I’ve already listed four of the nine things that you can do that will improve your chances of playing baseball at the college level in a previous post. These tips aren’t going to make a D2 player into a D1 player. They will give the D2 player a better chance at actually playing college baseball on a D2 team. These are the things you can do off the field that will set you apart from other players. It isn’t just about having the best skills; it’s about making it as easy as possible for coaches to know that you have the skills and choose you over another player.
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FIVE: Visit College Recruiting Forums
Visit websites that will help you with the recruiting process such as hsbaseballweb.org and the athletes forum on College Confidential. I find the HS Baseball Web site geared more towards high level recruits, D1, and people actually making it into the draft. College Confidential covers more than just baseball but also seems to include more information for players looking to play at the lower levels. Both provide excellent insight into the college recruiting process and there is no excuse not to visit the sites regularly.
SIX: Learn What You Need to Know
Read books on college recruiting. There are plenty of books about college athletic recruiting and virtually all will provide you with the basic background on the process and what to expect. Some are better than others but just reading one will be a significant advantage. I recommend Put Me In, Coach: A Parent’s Guide to Winning the Game of College Recruiting by Laurie A. Richter.
Too many families rely only on advice from baseball “professionals.” There is the high school baseball coach whose primary job is to get his team to win games. He may or may not have time to help players through the recruiting process. If you have a coach who is knowledgeable and willing to help, great. But you shouldn’t count on it.
Nor should you count on other professionals such as coaches of select teams or ex-pros who give lessons. These people generally have very good and legitimate contacts but their experience often limits their perspective. Someone with lots of D1 contacts may not see a lot of value in a player who could do very well in a D3 program at an academically competitive school. Of course, there are individuals who can provide advice to players considering any level, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.
The point is not to dismiss the value of professional contacts. But if you know that other opportunities exist and have a realistic understanding of your abilities, you will not be limited to the contacts of the professionals you happen to know. There are over 1500 colleges that offer baseball programs. Ultimately, if you’re serious about playing college baseball, it’s up to you to find the coaches that will be interested in recruiting you.
SEVEN: Start Running
Run. One of the biggest adjustments players make going from high school to college level is the intensity of training. Running is one way to prepare for it. Even if you don’t play baseball, it has obvious health benefits. And of course, it gets back to the dedication and discipline thing.
EIGHT: Get Good Video
Buy a video camera and stand and use them. I’m always amazed at how much families will spend on a baseball bat but won’t buy a video camera. With probably the exception of some of the prospect camps, the first time a coach is going to see you play is on video. If you don’t want to spend money on a video camera, you can use your smart phone although the zoom functions will be much more limited. In any case, why aren’t you recording already?
And if you do video, which you should, take a little time to do it right. Use a stand! This isn’t just about having a steady picture. With a stand, you can set up the camera to record the batter’s box all game, or the pitcher’s mound, or any infield position. If you’re focusing on the outfield, it would need to be a pretty good camera but it’s possible. This way you’ll have game video edited to show coaches.
Did you catch the part of edited? The coach doesn’t need or want to see every pitch at every at bat especially since only one swing really counts in each instance. You should edit the video so that only the contact swings are shown. Microsoft actually has a free video editing program you can download. If you edit every at bat, you should be able to get an entire season of swings into less than four minutes.
If you don’t generate enough fielding action in a game, you can always just record a fielding practice session or batting practice. Again, just edit out the dead airtime.
NINE: Learn How to Keep the Scorebook
Learn to keep a scorebook. For some reason very few players know how to keep a scorebook. Maybe they think that if they know how to keep a book, coaches will use it as an excuse to keep a player on the bench. I really don’t understand it. This is about being able to keep the book for a few hitters while the coach focuses on something else. It’s about understanding the basis of the statistics that define the sport of baseball. Not knowing how to keep a book is a sign of laziness, either intellectual or in terms of being able to contribute to the team. It’s just not that hard.
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