If you’re looking for a scholarship, you need a solid recruiting game plan.
College softball has exploded in popularity in the last 20 years. Concurrent with the growth at the collegiate level, participation in high school, club, and travel softball have exploded as well. And, while there are more opportunities available to earn a college softball scholarship than ever before, the competition for those scholarships is tougher than ever before too. So before you step up to the plate or into the circle in your recruiting process, follow these tips to ensure you have your pitch ready for college recruiters.
Know What Softball Coaches Are Looking For
While gaudy batting numbers or a smoking hot fastball will get you noticed by softball recruiters, most college coaches want more than that. You’ll also need a strong work ethic for regular training sessions, exceptional defensive skills, sharp focus, and lightning-quick reaction time.
On top of that, if you’re at the plate, coaches want to see a good eye for the strike zone, your ability to handle any pitch a pitcher throws, and the ability to hit in the clutch. For pitchers, coaches do want to see a high-velocity fastball but also look for an effective repertoire of complementary pitches, accuracy, stamina, and a high softball IQ.
Attend Camps And Clinics
If you think your game might be lacking in one area, attending a softball camp or clinic run by a college softball program can help. The college players and coaches who run the camps can help you improve in every area of your game and it also provides an opportunity for you to get on a coach’s recruiting radar. Plus, you can get a feel for the players, the facilities, and that school’s campus.
Know Where You’ll Fit Best
There are almost 1,700 softball programs across the NCAA, the NAIA, junior colleges, community colleges, and other schools, and each of those teams average about 20 players per team. But there are also almost 400,000 high school softball players in the U.S. Of those, only about the top 1.7% will compete at the NCAA DI level. If you’re not sure if you’re a DI-level player, don’t worry because you still have about 1,400 softball programs to consider.
So how do you narrow all those colleges and teams down to a manageable list? Start by asking your coaches where you might find the best fit to play in college. Then look at some rosters from teams at that level and see where you measure up statistically, physically, and positionally. Once you get a feel for where you might find a fit, make a target list of five to 10 target schools. Then…
Have A Sharp Recruiting Profile and Highlight Video
Given the vast number of softball players in the U.S., it’s highly unlikely that every coach can see every recruit play in person. That’s why it’s vital to have an online recruiting profile that gives an overview of you, your grades, your stats, your position, experience, and accomplishments. If possible, include references from coaches to provide college coaches a better perspective of your game. Of equal importance is having a highlight video that shows you’ve got those skills and abilities mentioned above that coaches are looking for. Once you have a profile and highlight video online, make sure to keep them both updated to reflect your continued development.
Start Reaching Out To College Coaches
Now that you have some target schools, an online profile, and a highlight video, start reaching out to college coaches. You can start with a simple email that expresses why you want to play for that team and attend that school, a quick overview of you and your skills, and links to your profile and highlight video. If you embed your highlight video in your online profile, that’s one less click a coach has to make and it increases the likelihood your video is seen. Remember to be aware of NCAA recruiting regulations and calendars which govern when and how often a college coach may contact a recruit. You can still reach out to a coach outside of these timelines but the coach may not be able to respond.
When you’re at the plate, coaches always remind you to be ready when you get your pitch to hit. And now that you know what’s needed to prepare your recruiting pitch, you’ll be ready to be a hit with college coaches.
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