Athletes and their parents are usually heading into the world of recruiting terribly uniformed and set up for failure. There are a lot of recruiting experts on the scene who offer a lot of great advice. There are also a lot of people who really think they know a lot about recruiting who don’t. This is a buyer-beware world and the more you know the better off you will be.
Here are some things that all players and parents need to understand about the recruiting process.
- College coaches have limited budgets and limited time. This is even more of an issue in the COVID-19 landscape we are navigating now. Budgets have been cut and coaches are trying to make ends meet in scholarship money and recruiting budgets. Don’t expect coaches to be able to offer a big scholarship or to be present at every game your kid plays. They just don’t have the resources.
- Get to know the NCAA rules. You can download a very valuable guide for prospective student athletes which hits the high points about dates and timelines. You will spend less time upset when you know that a coach wasn’t being rude when they didn’t come up to you at the tournament and give you a big hug but rather that their rules don’t allow it.
- Division of play shouldn’t be your guiding principal. Every division of college softball is good and being able to play in any of them is a great accomplishment. If you focus only on big-time programs you may end being very disappointed. Again with the COVID-19 fallout many of the biggest programs have the fewest opportunities for current recruits. Be open-minded.
- Social media matters. College coaches are constantly searching for information about a player and how she acts in the world away from the field. Posting something that a college coach doesn’t like is going to cost you an opportunity. There are as many red flags as there are college coaches and what one coach thinks is kind of cute another might be appalled by. Be very careful! Players and parents both!!
- Coaches want to communicate with the player. Each athlete needs to understand that college coaches want to know the person they are recruiting and your communication skills will go a long way in allowing them to get to know you. Players you need to be able to converse with the college coaches on the phone and in person. Some college coaches like to text or DM to set up a conversation or meeting but ultimately they are going to want to hear what you have to say.
- Eyes are always on you. College coaches are not just watching you in the games. They are watching you in warm ups. They are watching how you interact with your team and parents. They are watching you in the dugout. They are always watching. Be sure you are showing them what they want to see.
- Remember you are choosing the coach just as much as they are choosing you. Ask questions! Get to know the coach you are considering playing for. If you have doubts do more research. Do not assume anything. Be sure you invest your efforts into making the best choice possible and that might mean you drop a coach or program even though they might want you.
- Coaches change jobs. If you pick a school just because you love the coach you may be setting yourself up for heartache. Some coaches get offered better jobs. Some coaches retire. some coaches get fired. If the only reason you chose a school was the coach, well, you get the point.
- Set realistic goals. When I do our recruiting seminar I always ask the kids what schools they like. It’s always the biggest best school in their home state and the teams that were on ESPN playing for the College World Series. Now no offense to these kids and not to crush their dreams, but the number of kids those schools are recruiting is a tiny fraction of all the kids who play. For the kids who attend a random recruiting seminar to be in that top 1% would be a miracle. Look at schools that are realistic options for you and you will have a much better chance of finding a great fit.
There are countless other things for you to consider but this is a good jumping off point. Remember that getting recruited is a big undertaking and the players who end up happy are the ones who work the hardest at it. Get to work!