What’s Right with Travel Ball?

Recruiting, Part 4: Connecting with College Coaches

In part 3 of the series, we talked about showcases and why they are so important in the recruiting process. The ease of getting players on the field, in front of college coaches, where the sole purpose is showing that college coach what you can do, is the lifeblood of the process. But, while very important, there are a lot of other ways that travel teams get their players connected to the college coaches that they are interested in being recruited by.

When a travel team has good relationships with college coaches, many doors are opened. One of the most important opportunity is camps on the college campuses. Now, I know some of those events appear to be more of a fundraiser rather than a recruiting opportunity, but that is where the travel ball coach should be playing their important role. Travel coaches are in a position to ask the tough questions that should then inform their players interested in attending that camp.

My experience is that college coaches are going to be honest about their interest level in a player when they are approached by that player’s coaches. The interest level from the college coach will run the gamut from, dying to offer her a scholarship right now, to we are interested but need to see more, and even, the seems like a good kid but not the type of athlete we are looking for. And it’s a lot easier for the college coach to have that conversation with the travel coach rather than the player or her family. Thus, that conversation with the travel coach is a crucial gear in the recruiting process because the information gets delivered without too many broken hearts.

Another way to connect is the team camp at a college campus. In this setting, an entire travel team will attend a camp together. When a whole team attends a camp, not all the players will be interested in that school, but the team camp is still very valuable. The camp offers all the players a chance to work with a college coach, see a college campus, usually meet some college players, and gain a lot of valuable insight about what a college program is all about. And for the players who are interested in that school, you have a jackpot. They get an opportunity to make a very strong impression on that college coach and quite often, build a very strong relationship that might be the deciding factor in whether that is the school that the player chooses.

Visits are also an important part of the equation. The savvy travel ball coach will work to get their players, especially those interested in a specific school, on the radar of the college coach. The travel coach is, again, in the best position to ask if a college coach wants to bring a player in for a visit. The travel coach helps to coordinate it, and they sometimes schedule a tournament or camp to ensure that their players can get on that college campus for a visit. And again, the travel coach can also be told the bad news about a college not wanting to bring a player in for a visit with a little insulation from the player and, hopefully, less hurt feelings.

Finally, keeping the lines of communication flowing between the player and the college coach is another way that a strong travel coach works for their players. A travel coach can help with reminders about communicating and being sure schedules are sent, following up with a player and her parents about vital academic information being sent, and checking on where a player fits on the wishlist of potential recruits.

We’ve mentioned several times that ultimately, the player should be doing an awful lot of the work to get herself recruited. We assume that if a player really wants to play, they should take a very active role in the process. But we also know that kids are kids, and it’s a really good thing for them to have someone to look out for them in the recruiting process. Now, many parents will be involved, and sometimes way too involved, but the travel coach is a vital person in to make sure that their players and the college coaches they are interested in are making the connections they need to make!

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?