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For sophomores, after a full year of high school baseball, many make the decision they want to play college baseball. Making this decision early in high school is great, and with the necessary focus and work-ethic, this dream is very attainable.
Grades and training should still be the priority for sophomores but it is also time to ramp up the research and consider attending a prospect camp or showcase. It is the time to start building a relationship with college coaches through targeted outreach, and further prepare for their junior year when colleges are allowed to contact players.
Sophomore year can be used to set up a really strong recruiting game plan players can take into the next summer and into their junior year. We will break down these steps into academics, athletics, and research & recruiting.
1. Choose The Right Classes
Students should continue to check in with their guidance counselor to endure that they are on track to meet the NCAA Eligibility Center requirements. Guidance counselors can help evaluate a student’s GPA, and course load, and create a plan for future semesters in order to meet requirements.
2. Continue to Get Good Grades
A high GPA is going to provide student-athletes with the most opportunities to play college baseball. Many college baseball programs have requirements of their own aside from the standard college admissions requirements.
College coaches want players that are able to handle the classroom work in college. Poor grades in college can lead to ineligibility which will ultimately hurt the team. A good GPA that is far above any minimum requirements shows coaches that a player is a hard worker in the classroom and can handle balancing sports and school.
3. Balance Sports & School
Students should fine-tune their routines during their sophomore year. Learning how to balance sports and school is challenging, but with a year of high school under their belts, they should solidify a routine that works for them.
This means finding ways to perform well in the classroom while also dedicating enough focus and time to develop athletic skills to compete at the next level. A solid routine can help maximize the time of a student’s day and allow them to dedicate time to every aspect of being a student-athlete. This can be an area where players begin to separate themselves as college-level prospects. After a long evening of studying, it can be hard to find the energy for a workout or extra swings, but this is the level of dedication required if players want to compete in college.
1. Fall Ball & Summer Ball
Leading up to a player’s sophomore year, it isn’t all that important to be on a high-level showcase-focused summer or fall team, but beginning this year, players should seek to find a program where this is a priority.
Certain fall and summer travel teams will have an emphasis on attending tournaments with college exposure. These tournaments are often made up of teams focused on this, which allows college coaches to come to one location to see a lot of quality high school players compete against one another.
The fall is usually the tryout season, so preparing in the summer and identifying programs to try out for is a good idea. These can usually be found with online searches, word of mouth, and recommendations from a player’s high school coach.
2. Off-Season Training
By a player’s sophomore year, they should begin to identify the strengths and weaknesses in their game. Use the offseason to address any weaknesses and anything that requires a major mechanical adjustment.
It takes thousands of reps to create new habits, so putting in the work before the high school season is necessary in order to be ready to go. Players should continue to be a student of the game, and also their own game. Learning their swing or throwing mechanics, studying film, and learning how to make changes will serve them well for the rest of their careers.
3. Focus on Strength & Speed
The recruiting process relies heavily on measurable tests, such as the 60-yard dash and exit velocity. These are just one factor that college coaches consider when evaluating a player, but it is often how players initially stand out and catch the attention of a college coach.
Knowing that college coaches are looking for players that are talented on the field but also are athletic, strong, and projectable, players should do everything they can to become better all-around athletes. While some of this is uncontrollable, such as a player’s height, it doesn’t mean putting in the work to develop as a faster and strong athlete won’t have any benefits.
4. High School Season
The main focus during the high school season should be performing well on the field, being a good teammate, and continuing to improve. The high school season is a time for all of the hard work in the off-season to come to fruition, and players should focus their attention on their high school team and season.
It’s okay to keep college baseball in the back of the mind, but don’t let it become a distraction from being a good teammate and contributor to the high school team.
Throughout the high school season and leading into the summer season, players should frequently take a step back and evaluate their game and how they compare to other players with the same goal. This will not only help determine how to become a better overall player, but it can also help guide the direction they should take in the college recruiting process.
If a player is consistently underperforming in comparison to other players they are competing against, it may indicate they need to focus heavily on developing as a player before focusing more attention on the recruiting process. Vice versa, if a player is quickly becoming a standout player, it may be a good idea to start attending prospect camps and showcases, and begin some self-marketing to college coaches.
Research & Recruiting
1. Identify a List of Potential Schools
Players should begin to identify a list of schools that they have an interest in. This can be a very broad list at this stage and might be based on location, goals, or division. The idea is just to have a starting point that players can begin to narrow down over the next year or two.
2. Update Prospect Video
If players have a prospect video from their freshman year, it is most likely outdated as their size, strength, and abilities have changed. Film an up-to-date video that can be shared with college coaches (tip: college coaches don’t care about production value, music, graphics, etc. and there is no need to spend a lot of money to have a video done professionally).
3. Begin Outreach to College Coaches
With the initial list of potential schools, players can begin to reach out to college coaches to introduce themselves and provide some information such as a prospect video and schedule. Remember the do’s and don’ts of contacting college coaches.
To learn even more about this process, check out our College Program Spotlight section. In these spotlights, college coaches offer advice and insight into their recruiting process and share the best methods for contacting them, including what they are most interested in from players.
4. Consider Attending Camps and Showcases
Players should consider starting to attend showcases or prospect camps during their sophomore year. This is typically recommended as the next step to do after players begin reaching out to college coaches. If college coaches are interested in a player after seeing their prospect video, they will usually want to see the player in person. Showcases and prospect camps are also a great way for players to get in front of coaches even if they have not had any contact with them yet.
Most players will end up attending several showcases and prospect camps throughout the recruiting process. They can be nerve-racking, but the more players understand the process and what to expect, the more comfortable they get. With that said, if it’s financially feasible, it can be a good idea for a player to attend a camp or showcase their sophomore year for the experience alone.
Deciding how many or few camps and showcases to attend during a player’s sophomore year should go back to the idea of self-evaluation. If a player is not quite ready to impress at one of these events, it doesn’t make much sense to attend a lot of them, and rather one or two for the experience may be more appropriate. However, if a player is already proving to be a serious college prospect, it can be worth the financial commitment to attend more of the events earlier in their high school career.
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