Here are nine things that you can do that will improve your chances of playing college baseball. These aren’t about improving specific baseball skills, although that may happen. It’s about giving you the edge over another player who has the exact same stats and ability ratings as you do. In other words, these suggestions aren’t going to make a D2 player into a D1 player. It is about making it as easy as possible for a college coach to recruit you from the hundreds of other players that he has to choose from.
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Basically, these are things that other players aren’t willing to do or wait too long to do. They will help you understand and navigate the college recruiting process. They give you something to talk to coaches about that show your individual initiative and discipline when it comes to baseball. Check around with other players and see how many are actually doing any of the following.
1. Learn the Rules
Download and read the NCAA student guide to athletic recruiting NOW if you haven’t already. Knowing the rules can improve your chances of playing college baseball by making sure you aren’t disqualified before you even begin.
Understanding the recruiting rules will help keep you from getting frustrated when you don’t hear back from a coach because you know it isn’t allowed by the rules. It will also protect you from jeopardizing your eligibility from coaches that are willing to bend the rules. “I didn’t know” isn’t an acceptable excuse. Both the NCAA and NAIA make it easy to learn the rules.
- NCAA Eligibility Center
- NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete (PDF)
- NAIA Eligibility Center
- NAIA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete (PDF)
2. Take Care of Academics
If you want to improve your chances of playing college baseball, you really need to take care of academics. Let’s start with test requirements first. Soon, taking care of academics won’t involve preparing for the ACT or SAT for most D1 or D2 athletes. Any students enrolling full-time after August 1, 2023 will not be required to submit test scores as part of the eligibility requirements.
However, just because the NCAA has dropped the requirement, doesn’t mean all of the schools will. Individual colleges can and do require all students to take college entrance exams regardless of the NCAA rules. Eventually, all schools may drop admission testing, but until then, students need to check with each school for their specific requirements.
With the declining role of the ACT and SAT, GPA can’t help but become more important. Think about it. With required test scores, lower GPAs could be balanced by higher test scores. No one knows for sure how GPAs will be handled by the NCAA in the future but it’s certain that trade-off will no longer exist. Therefore, students will need to take care of business in the classroom as well as on the field.
They will also need to know that they are in the right classes while they’re doing it. The NCAA requires students to take a minimum number of core classes each year and these classes have to be approved by the NCAA. Ideally, your high school counselor will keep on top of which classes meet the NCAA requirements, but not all do. Keeping track of this information yourself is probably a good idea so they you don’t have any unwelcomed surprises closer to graduation. You can see what classes the NCAA approved for your high school here.
Taking care of academics isn’t just about meeting eligibility requirements, it’s a way to improve your chances of playing college baseball. The better your grades, the more options you have of where you can play. You are looking to play at a college and will be expected to maintain a minimum GPA to get onto the field. The higher your high school GPA, the easier you make it for a coach to recruit you. Not only will you meet the minimum requirements, you’re also demonstrating that he won’t have to worry about you maintaining your eligibility once you get on campus.
3. Understand College Finances
Calculate your EFC. This means that you will have to know what EFC is-Expected Family Contribution (soon to be called the Student Aid Index but will serve the same purpose). Use the College Board’s EFC calculator since it will also include the institutional methodology. The EFC is the basis of your financial aid and determines how much you will actually have to pay for college.
And remember, most baseball players are not playing on an athletic scholarship. Knowing your EFC will improve your chances of playing college baseball because you can target colleges that you know you can afford without a baseball scholarship. All colleges will have a net price calculator available on their website. Find them and use them for any colleges you are interested in.
4. Develop Self Discipline to Improve Your Chances of Playing College Baseball
Hit off the tee every day. Baseball is about practice. It’s about repeating something 100 times so that every time you do it on the field, you will do it correctly. There are certainly other position specific drills that you could do every day to improve your abilities. However, there is a lot of truth in the saying, “if you can hit, you can play.”
What do you get out of it besides the potential improvement in hitting? First, you will have to understand your swing and what it takes to do it right and how to know if you are doing it wrong. Hitting off the tee every day the wrong way won’t help anything.
It also shows dedication and discipline. A coach wants to know that a player will follow the off-season workout schedules without someone checking up on him.
And no, I’m not providing any web links for batting tee drills. There are so many out there and everyone has their own opinion of what’s best that it makes more sense for you to find the drills that work for you.
5-9 in Part 2 , next week
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