March Checklist: High-Academic Softball Recruiting Tips
March 7, 2019
As student-athletes around the country begin their spring seasons, we highlight the steps that you can take this month to help position yourself for success in the recruiting process this summer:
Click below to skip ahead to your class-specific checklist:
Class of 2020
- Maximize your playing opportunities and on-field development this spring
- Compare your summer schedule with your school list to efficiently plan visits and showcases
- Prioritize your standardized test scores and preparation
Class of 2021
- Put together a highlight video to include in your outreach to schools
- Start to categorize your school list
- Continue to develop your on-field game and your student-athlete identity
Class of 2022
- Evaluate the schools on your target list by their individual qualities and characteristics
- Develop, develop, develop!
- Lean on your coaches, parents and teammates for advice
CLASS OF 2020:
- Maximize your playing opportunities and on-field development this spring – Most of you should be underway with your high school season, so you’ll have plenty of chances to hit the field over the coming weeks. It’s important to take advantage of every chance you get – both during games and practices. Use this time to develop your tools and refine your skills heading into this crucial summer in your recruiting process. For position players, ask for a few more swings in the cage or another chance to turn that double play in the field. For pitchers, set a goal to improve on one aspect of your repertoire each bullpen session. Putting in a little extra work now will pay big dividends when you hit the field in front of college coaches this summer.
Now is also a time to build on your “tools” as a player. Put in the work in the weight room and on the track – in addition to the reps – to get your 20 time and batted ball velocity to the best they can be in advance of summer.
- Compare your summer schedule with your school list to efficiently plan visits and showcases – We recommended last month that you start to research the schools on your list so that you’re prepared to schedule visits when you receive your summer schedule. As you begin to have a clearer idea of this schedule, see which schools on your list can be visited during a travel ball tournament and which ones will require a dedicated trip. You should also see when you can schedule showcases to increase your exposure to the right, targeted groups of college coaches. If your summer schedule conflicts with these events, consider where you will have a better chance of being seen by your target schools, and how to balance your commitment to your travel team while also receiving the individualized and guaranteed exposure that can help move your recruiting forward. This is your last summer before admissions deadlines in the fall, so it’s important that you maximize your opportunities in front of a critical mass of the right group of college coaches.
Because you’re pursuing high-academic recruiting, your recruiting process and school list is going to look very different from the majority of your teammates. Your commitments to your team, teammates and coaches are hugely important – but so is your autonomy and ability to personalize your recruiting process to fit your unique exposure needs and challenges.
- Prioritize your standardized test scores and preparation – Some of you have already taken the SAT and ACT – if you hit your goal on your first attempt, then congrats! For those of you looking to improve your scores or who haven’t taken it yet, signing up in the spring gives you the opportunity to head into the summer with a stronger and more complete academic resume. Both the SAT and ACT have multiple test dates between now and your admissions deadlines, but consider when you will have the most time to prepare for these tests. If you are maximizing your summer schedule by attending showcases and visiting campuses, then you may have more time to study now before hitting the road June-August.
Because it provides a standard metric for college coaches, standardized test scores provide a quick summary about your standing and fit for their program – investing your time and energy in a prep course between now and the summer can pay huge dividends in your recruiting.
CLASS OF 2021:
- Put together a highlight video to include in your outreach to schools – Coaches understand that you’ll continue to develop throughout high school, but including video allows them to put a name to a face and assess where you currently stand. Also, coaches will be able to use this as a benchmark when they watch you play during the summer or receive an updated highlight video. Demonstrating growth between your initial video and the next time they see you play will show that you’re coachable and willing to put in the work to improve.
One of the key parts of a college coach’s job is assessing the “projectability” and potential of student-athletes interested in their program. By giving them a video, you’re able to give them insight into who you are as a player, and into the path for your future development and growth.
- Start to categorize your list into schools you think are “fit schools” and ones that you view as “reach schools” – Once you have a baseline for your standardized test scores and your objective measurements, you can begin to gain a better understanding of which schools match your current performance and which ones require more development on the field or higher academic scores. It’s important to be proactive as a rising junior and get ahead in the recruiting process this summer, but also remember that there is time to improve your resume to stand out to those reach schools on your list. It’s too early to eliminate any schools on your list, but use this time to progress towards those goals before it’s too late in the process.
One key resource in setting these sights for yourself will be direct and candid feedback from your coaches, and also from college coaches through direct engagement at camps like Headfirst. By soliciting this feedback, you can get a good sense of where you may fall with your on-field skills and recruiting.
- Continue to develop your on-field game and your student-athlete identity – Whether you’re playing on JV or Varsity, use your playing time this spring to become more comfortable with your play and learn about your strengths and weaknesses on the field. Identifying the strong parts of your game – and improving on the areas that need a little more attention – will help you figure out what will stand out to college coaches when you showcase in front of them. If you worked on speed training this offseason and had success on the base paths early this spring, include a video of your 20-yard dash in your highlight reel. If you’re a pitcher that increased velocity since last year, include some metrics and radar gun readings along with video of your bullpen session. Coaches are looking for well-rounded student-athletes, but playing to your strengths and being aware of the type of player you are can help you get on their radar.
CLASS OF 2022:
- Evaluate the schools on your target list by their individual qualities and characteristics – We know how easy it can be to get caught up in the name recognition of a well-known school, or to place emphasis on the Division I label. Once you have a list of qualities that you’re looking for in a college program, see how your current list of schools compares to these criteria – and then use this list of qualities combined with an open mind to think critically about expanding your list. You might be surprised about what you learn in this process. If you engage with your list critically, you might find that you’ve been more interested in the name and reputation of certain schools than what it actually has to offer, or the fit it could provide for your college experience.
If you discover this about certain schools on your list, you do not need to eliminate them entirely. There is still a lot of time left in your high school career, and your priorities and interests will continue to evolve between now and your senior year. Use this process to educate yourself about the schools on your list and as a tool to rank them. The key outcome of this process will be to consider what these qualities are that make up the best fit for your college experience, and then to combine these qualities with an open mind to find even more schools – those that you’ve heard of and those you haven’t – that fit these qualities.
- Develop, develop, develop! – For many of you this spring will be your first season of high school ball, and there is so much to learn about how to practice and prepare for games. Take advantage of every chance you get to physically develop – both on the field and in the weight room. The results are important, but this is the time for you to establish the foundation of your game and to lay the groundwork for future development. Focus on the little things – your footwork in the field, your mechanics on the mound or at the plate and the right form with weight training. By improving your fundamentals at a young age, you’ll make it easier to improve moving forward and keep yourself healthy throughout your career.
- Lean on your coaches, parents and teammates for advice – It’s likely that your coaches have helped players through this process in the past, and some of your older teammates might be nearing the end of their recruiting process. Your coaches and teammates can be tremendous resources as you gain a better understanding of your goals and aspirations in this journey. While every recruiting process is unique, learning about your coaches’ and teammates’ perspectives can help you shape your own path. Take advantage of your time with them this spring to learn as much as possible as you begin to gain exposure to college coaches this summer.
When considering this feedback and guidance, it’s important to recognize the unique nature of your own recruiting process. You’ve chosen to combine the challenges of both softball recruiting and top academics – and with that, your recruiting process is going to look different from your teammates. As you solicit the advice and feedback from coaches and teammates, it’s important to keep that in mind and to stay true to your own personal goals in your college and recruiting process.