The college baseball recruiting process can be equally exciting, stressful, and confusing for high school players and their families. For some players, playing in college is a lifelong dream and it can be hard to control emotions when the opportunity finally seems within reach.
When conversations with college coaches and scouts begin, the impression a player makes can be just as important as their abilities on the field. Communicating effectively and maintaining professionalism during this time can be the difference between a player achieving their dreams or being left disappointed.
High school baseball players with college baseball aspirations will typically begin the process during their junior year. It seems every player has a slightly different path to finding their school, whether it’s getting noticed at a showcase, prospect camp, online video, or summer ball game, no one ever knows what will kick off the process. When a player does finally get noticed, and a college coach reaches out, it can be tough waters to navigate. In this article, we will cover the do’s and don’ts when communicating with college coaches that will give players the best chance to make a good impression.
1. DO: Be Confident
If a player believes they have the ability to compete and succeed at the college level, they should portray this. Now there is a big difference between confidence and cockiness, and that is an important distinction to make. Demonstrating confidence without being arrogant will show a college coach that the player is ready for the next challenge and isn’t scared of better competition. Baseball is a mental game, and being confident is half the battle.
2. DO: Promote Yourself
This can be a very hard part of the recruiting process as it can go against the nature of many players. In every post-game interview ever, professional athletes are always quick to deflect praise and give credit to their teammates. While humility is a great quality to have, players need to be able to market themselves. Sharing a prospect video or results from a showcase with a scout can be a great way to ensure they have every opportunity possible to consider your talents for their team.
3. DO: Be Honest
When sharing stats, showcase times, throwing velocity, etc. players should always be truthful. If a player says they throw 93 mph, a college coach obviously isn’t going to take their word for it. Coaches will eventually vet all the players they are considering, and if a player embellished themselves, a coach will quickly write that player off as it reflects poorly on their character.
4. DO: Respond Timely
It is good practice to respond to any communication from coaches as soon as possible. It shows that the player is committed to the process and also respects the coach’s time. College coaches are busy, so if they have to make multiple attempts to contact a player and have a hard time communicating with them, they will just move on.
5. DO: Be Professional
Always communicate professionally and respectfully when talking to coaches. Address them as coach followed by their last name, unless they say differently. Remember that players need to market themselves not only as baseball players but also as individuals. College baseball teams spend a lot of time together, and coaches look to create teams that have a good culture around them. Additionally, players should have a professional email address that includes their name. Coaches should be able to tell right away who an email is from.
6. DO: Stay Focused On The Sport
This one isn’t directly related to communicating with coaches, but it’s just as important as the rest. The college recruiting process can be exciting and overwhelming. It is easy for players and parents to get wrapped up in it and let that become a distraction from the actual game. Ultimately, a player’s performance on the field is what is going to create the most opportunities, so it’s important that the hard work and focus don’t take a back seat.
1. DON’T: Burn Any Bridges
If a player doesn’t have interest in a school that has reached out, they should always remain respectful. On the other hand, if a player reaches out to a school and doesn’t receive reciprocated interest, the same principle applies. College coaches change jobs all the time and move across different levels. It’s not uncommon for a D3 coach to get a new job at a D1 school, and begin to recruit some of the same players they were interested in while at the D3 school. College baseball is a small world, so be kind and respectful to everyone.
2. DON’T: Let Parents Do The Work
High school players should definitely communicate with their parents and seek their guidance and advice, but when it comes to talking with college coaches, the player should do that themselves. Coaches want to get to know the player, how they carry themselves, and how they communicate. Players need to take ownership over themselves and their careers, as that is what college baseball is all about.
3. DON’T: Make It All About You
College coaches coach for their careers. It is how they put food on the table for their family. They take pride in their programs and want to recruit players that will share that pride. Recruiting is a two-way street, and players should have the mindset of how they can help the program and not the other way around. When having conversations with college coaches, be sure to ask how their season is going and make an effort to learn more about them.
4. DON’T: Text (Unless They Text First)
It is always best to respond to any form of communication from a coach in the same form it was received. For example, if a coach calls a player and leaves a message, the player should call them back as opposed to texting or emailing. Phone calls and emails are the most professional forms of communication, but if a coach mentions they are okay with text, or they text first themselves, then it’s okay.
5. DON’T: Send Too Many Messages
Earlier we talked about promoting yourself, and while this is important, going overboard with it can have a negative effect. Regular updates to coaches that have expressed serious interest are perfectly fine, but updates after every game or without anything of substance should be avoided. It is better to err on the side of being brief with updates, as coaches will ask for more if they are interested.
6. DON’T: Send Generic Emails
When sending emails to college programs that a player may be interested in, they shouldn’t copy and paste the same email so they can send it out to the masses. When contacting a school, especially for the first time, it’s important to express genuine interest. Make sure it is addressed to a specific coach, and mention something about their program. College coaches get hundreds if not thousands of emails from high school players, and a generic form email will get lost in the shuffle.