For most high school players, learning to properly contact schools, self-promote, and communicate effectively is crucial for landing a spot on a college roster.
A single mistake can, unfortunately, derail a player’s chances with a specific school. In this article, we’ll cover the 7 most common mistakes that players make during the recruiting process and how to avoid them.
1. Starting Too Late
It’s understandable that players don’t always determine if they want to play college baseball early in their high school career. They also might not know if this is a realistic goal. However, the earlier players can start the process, the better.
When players don’t commit to the recruiting process until late in their junior year or their senior year, the potential opportunities they have may be limited. Starting during their freshman or sophomore year will allow them to build a plan and make the most out of their latter years.
If players wait until the end of their high school career, the process can be limited due to a few factors. First off, many colleges will have already filled their recruiting needs, and are no longer looking for players from the next graduating class. Another reason is college coaches might not have time to come watch a senior during their season. College coaches often use the summer and fall to do most of their scouting, and by this time, high school seniors are already graduated.
2. Expecting Schools to Come to Them
The second mistake many players are guilty of is waiting for colleges to come to them. This is usually due to the fact that players don’t fully understand the recruiting process and don’t know where to start. Other than top tier recruits, most players will need to do some form of outreach and self-promotion in order to land a spot at a school they are interested.
After identifying schools of interest, players should start the outreach process to get on the radar of those schools. This can be done through emails, social media DMs, and even phone calls, but regardless of the method, it is important to make college coaches aware of your interest.
College coaches want players that are passionate about the school and their baseball program. By expressing their interest, players can give themselves an edge at the next prospect camp or showcase they are at with that school in attendance.
3. Poor Communication
College coaches are looking for players with good values, morals, and professionalism. These qualities can be exhibited through how a player communicates. If players are unprofessional in their communication or their online presence, it can reflect poorly on their character.
Examples of poor communication can be simple, such as not responding timely to a message from a coach, or posting something inappropriate on social media. Remember that college coaches’ jobs are to win games and develop a reputable program. If they don’t believe a player will be a positive representation of their program, they may be quick to write them off.
No matter who a player is communicating with, even if it is a coach from a school they are not interested in, they should remain respectful and professional. A player’s reputation and image can carry a lot of weight during the recruiting process… either in a positive or negative way.
4. Not Considering All Levels
Almost every player starts off their college baseball dream with the idea of “D1 or bust”. The reality is that most high school players that go on to play in college will be playing at a level other than D1, and many will be playing for NAIA or JUCO schools.
There are non-NCAA D1 college programs with state of art facilities that produce MLB draft picks almost every year. The University of Tampa, an NCAA D2 school, averages around 5 MLB draft picks per year, which is more than many D1 programs.
Great competition and opportunities are found across all levels, and we would discourage players to focus only on the school’s division when considering their options. The school itself, facilities, faculty, academics, size, and so on should all be factors that are weighed when choosing a school. A school’s division in sports is a small contributing factor to a player’s potential overall experience at that school.
5. Giving Up Too Early
If players want to continue their playing careers and are good high school baseball players, there is almost certainly an opportunity for them to play in college. Many players are quick to give up when they don’t receive interest from big or well-known schools. These are usually the NCAA D1 schools they are most familiar with. Those same players often don’t know of the opportunities at the NAIA or JUCO level.
One of the most common reasons behind players giving up is that they would prefer a degree from a big 4-year university, and that is why they are not considering a smaller school or JUCO. However, spending 2 years at JUCO and then transferring to play at a big 4-year school is a route that players can take, and will ultimately end up with the same degree while also now having the opportunity to play.
6. Losing Focus on Training and Performance
We stress the importance of preparing for the recruiting process and taking it seriously. However, this should never take away from a player’s focus on the actual game of baseball. The recruiting process can be stressful and demanding, but if workouts, training sessions, and in-game focus are taking a back seat, then it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate.
The final step for most coaches during the recruiting of players is to evaluate in-game performance. A player may do everything right leading up to that point, such as proper communication and good showcase results, but if they are not able to impress on the field when it counts, a college coach will likely lose interest.
7. Not Utilizing All the Tools Available
With social media, recruiting profiles, and multiple forms of communication, it is easy for players to pool these resources together to build an online resume to catches the eyes of college coaches. It is understandable the players may not have an interest in having a social media account, but many college coaches are utilizing social media, specifically Twitter, to communicate and follow players.
If players are truly serious about the college recruiting process, they should be leveraging all the tools at their disposal to provide them with the best chance to find somewhere to play.