5 Tips to Help You on Your Recruiting Journey
5 Tips to Help You on Your Recruiting Journey
Okay, so you’re a serious ball player and have sights on playing at the next level but are unsure of where to start. Guess what – that is totally OKAY! I’ll start this off by telling you something that college coaches, showcase companies, your teammates, and other recruiting advisors aren’t telling you: Everyone’s recruiting process is completely different. That’s what makes this so unique.
I remember when I started going through the recruiting process, my parents had no idea what to do – I was the first born, so I was the guinea pig. My brother had a much easier idea of what to do because my parents had already gone through the process with me – but even then, it was completely different for him than it was for me. So, as I go back and look at what I did during that time, here are 5 pointers I learned along the way that you can implement into your strategy to help you continue your career in baseball!
Tip #1: Comparison is the Thief of Joy
I remember when I was going into my junior year of high school, I started seeing a lot of my peers and even some of my teammates start committing to schools and I’ll be honest – it made me feel super behind, and at times, feeling like maybe I wasn’t good enough since I hadn’t committed anywhere yet. I’m sure some of you are in this boat, but please, do not feel this way!
The truth is that everyone is going through a different path – one player might have gone to a showcase and got matched with the perfect school right off the bat. It’s rare, but hey, it happens. Some guys may have connections at other schools through outside coaches, private instructors, etc. Again, it’s rare, but it happens. I’ve seen this time and time again, and although it may make you feel like you’re behind or that you’re running out of time, trust me - you aren’t. Keep working, keep playing, keep training. The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities you are giving yourself. Never compare your journey to someone else’s. I did that for a little bit and then felt silly when my offers came. Stay patient.
Tips #2: Self-Awareness is KEY
I’m going to be blunt here – not everyone is a division 1 prospect and not everyone is going to play professional baseball. If you didn’t know that by now, I’ll give you a moment of silence to let it sink in. Okay, your moment is over – let’s get back to my point!
When you are making your decisions on what schools to contact or where you ultimately would love to play, you must know your skill level. Here’s an example: If you’re 5’8” and you throw mid-high 80’s from the bump, maybe contacting coaches at Vandy or Texas may not be the right move for you. Does that mean you won’t ever play at that level? No – at least not yet. I’ll get to this in my next tip.
Maybe you have an absolute dream school in mind, but when you talk to the coaches, they have a sophomore STUD at your same position, and they are going to stick with him through thick and thin. Yeah, you could change positions to play there or maybe even try and beat that player out. Will that create a much harder barrier of entry to get on the field? 100%. Impossible? No.
The point I’m, trying to make is to go where you’re needed and wanted. Find somewhere that matches your education needs and your baseball needs. It’s always better to say you played college baseball, not that you rode the bench for 4 years and got some spot starts. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Tip #3: Never Count Out Junior College
For some reason, people always look down on junior college but there are a whole lot of benefits. Speaking from experience, I played at the Division I, Division II, and NJCAA Division I levels and without question, I saw some of the BEST baseball at the junior college level. And to be more specific, I played with and against at least 10+ guys who are either currently in the big leagues, played in the big leagues, or are still working through minor league systems.
From a financial and educational perspective, considering how much cheaper junior college is vs. a 4-year university, you see A LOT more full rides – and who wouldn’t like a FREE education? I took advantage of that but did fall victim to the ideology that I didn’t want to attend junior college right out of high school. But here is where junior college can REALLY benefit you.
Earlier when I brought up the Vandy comment, here is where it comes in to play. Let’s say you aren’t fully ready to play at the Division I level – and to be honest, unless you’re an absolute stud, most high school seniors are not fully ready to play against grown men. BUT, if you play at a junior college for 2 years, you get 2 full years of reps against some great athletes. That game experience will translate, and you have a much better chance of transferring to a big university once your time is done. Most coaches are always looking for junior college transfers for that reason. Trust me. Never count out Junior College.
Tip #4: Be a Professional
These days, everyone is on social media – and to be honest, there are a whole lot of benefits to having these. Sometimes I wish Instagram and Twitter were as developed as they are now when I was playing. There are all kinds of prospect pages to help uncommitted players find homes. But on the flip side, social media can not only harm your reputation, but it could also kill your chances of playing at all.
I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of this. Odds are you have heard this story repeatedly from your parents, teachers, coaches, etc. To keep it short and sweet, always be mindful of how you conduct yourself and what you post online. That’s the thing about social media and the internet. – it’s not written in pencil; it’s written in ink.
Tip #5: Be Ready to Work
No matter what sport you play, being a student athlete is a grind. Let me give you a quick insight: Wake up at 5:30am, get to your workout, workout, hurry back to change and get to class, go to class all day and find some time to eat, then get to practice, get out around 6-6:30, then find time to eat dinner and do homework, then go to sleep and do it all again.
It’s a grind and some guys get all caught up in the beauty of it all beforehand, then get absolutely blindsided when they arrive on campus and things speed up.
I’m not trying to scare you or make you feel like you can’t do this. You CAN, but you must have a winning mentality as well as great time management. Believe me, I have met some of my best friends through this game we all love and though at times I was running E, I don’t regret any of it. My days of playing are long gone, but I can tell you with outright confidence that those 5 years of college baseball were some of the best of my life. You just have to be willing to put in the work!