What’s Right with Travel Ball

Recruiting, part 3. Showcases.

As a college coach one of the most challenging things is seeing all the players you need to see, when you need to see them. Back in the old days, before showcases were the norm, it was business as usual to recruit at a good old fashioned double elimination tournament. The college coaches knew when the first game a potential recruit might be playing in was and usually what would happen if they won or lost. But after that initial couple of games it was all bets off in planning when to see a player next. If that players team laid an egg and went home in two then it might mean that the college coaches didn’t get to see the players they needed to see.

The answer was an easy one but one that took some time to gain momentum. When showcases first appeared there was a lot of handwringing over what it meant for competitiveness in players but the one thing that was really clear to everyone was a solution to the old, “I thought you would still be playing” explanation about why the college coach didn’t see you play.

The idea that every team would have a set schedule before the showcase even started was a godsend to college coaches. Some of whom have a schedule that looks like a New York subway schedule trying to map out how they will get to see all the players they are interested in seeing in some of the bigger events but at least they can plan accordingly.

Players could now tell the college coaches they were marketing themselves to exactly when and where they were playing. There were no more heartbreaking situations where a player got eliminated early and the college coach they really wanted to impress didn’t get to see her play. Now, of course, some of the larger showcases still create some issues for college coaches when the parks are far away from each other or players schedules overlap but at least now the college coach can have a plan in place to see as many kids as possible.

The old coach in me misses the days of double elimination tournaments from a purvey competitive standpoint but the showcases did allow me to see an awful lot more players. And just like everything we discuss there are always trade offs in any discussion. There will be a long list of things that I wish were different about showcases coming up in a later blog but there is no doubt that showcases are a much for recruiting. Without them, many players might never get seen.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?