Softball Recruiting. The word in and of itself is one that seems to be presenting itself earlier and earlier in the fastpitch circuit. When you hear about 8th graders verballing to D1 schools, it causes a sense of urgency among parents that start feeling like if they do not do something RIGHT NOW, they will somehow get behind the 8 ball and miss out on opportunities for their daughter. The problem is if “right now” is 10 or 12U you could end up wasting a lot of dollars.
And recruiting for any sport is a business! In other words, there are people and companies and agencies in place to do one thing and that is MAKE MONEY! And make money they do! Organizational ball, showcase events, college camps and clinics, and big recruiting companies are making a TON of money off of the dreams of young girls, just like yours. Are you just padding the profit, or is it making a real difference?
Unfortunately, there are also a lot of folks who just don’t have the money to pay for all these recruiting services and the travel that goes with them. Many of us cannot afford to play A-Ball etams. And in a world of “who you know’ and politics this can feel threatening to any parent. It is important to remember that your 14 year old may be a very different person by the time she graduates high school. Stay focused on keeping the sport FUN!
It is also important to take a look at the charts below so that you can remain realistic.
And if you are like the vast majority of folks who don’t have the money to pay into big time recruiting, here are some general recruiting tips for you. Chances are if your daughter wants to play in college – she can and WILL! And you can do it without breaking the bank, or putting so much pressure on your kid too young, that by the time she graduates highschool she wants to quit softball.
1. Make a list of colleges your DD is interested in! Think colleges first! We have to STOP getting this backwards. A good deal or offer is not a good deal or offer if its not what is in your daughters best interest educationally.
Look, its a fact that often, recruiting is about just getting the child an offer. It doesn’t matter where or how or when, they just need to be able to get you an offer. What if you don’t want to go to an all girls school in North Carolina? What if you want to stay in-state? Start selecting the colleges you WANT TO ATTEND FIRST and focus on those programs. Remember education is the most important aspect of recruiting and college. Too many people are just so excited about “the offer” that they tend to forget that the college experience is about much more than softball.
2. Attend prospect camps and clinics at the colleges you are actually interested in. This way your daughter gets to meet the coaching staff face to face and they get to evaluate her skills and talents. And, the coaches can actually TALK TO HER about the program and the programs needs and future potential. This is the #1 way to get a coaches attention. It’s much easier to put your effort into 3-4 colleges that are tailored to your daughterseducational interests and your families financial capabilities than to spread yourself too thin. Remember – VERY FEW college SCHOLARSHIPS are full rides…. Refer to charts above! If a college has 12 scholarships to give, they are spreading the amount of available dollars around to up to 22 players. These offers HAVE to make financial sense.
3. Make sure your daughter has her own EMAIL ADDRESS, and sends the coaches emails on a regular basis. Not annoying, spam filled stuff. Be personal. Let them get to know your daughter. Be creative. The kids need to handle this themselves! Make sure they send follow-up emails after they attend camps or clinics and keep them abreast of any tournaments or showcases they may be playing in. BE PERSONABLE! Avoid telling coaches what they want to hear. Cookie cutter emails are not going to help. Send Christmas cards, or congratulatory emails if the team does something spectacular. Attend games. Nd of course of course send images and links to your videos. (Which leads us to number 4)
Consider this question in your correspondence? How are you going to make it through the thousands of emails from random players all over the country to spark a coaches interest.
4. If you are serious about recruiting make sure you have a video made of your daughter playing. There are quite a few companies that will do this for you for hundreds or even thousands of dollars , but you can also do it yourself. This link can help you understand what to do when making your own video. https://www.gobigrecruiting.com/recruiting101/softball/video_guidelines/introduction Set up a YOU-TUBE channel for your daughter, and upload videos of at bats, or plays that you can link coaches to.
5. KEEP GRADES UP! At the end of the day, colleges are looking for STUDENTS first. If the GPA and test scores aren’t up to par, then you can pretty much forget playing ball.
6. Don’t rule out two year or JUCO and NAIA and two year programs, who in actuality have A LOT more money to hand out to players. Plus, if you can get your daughter on board, they will get exposure as college athletes during games and tournaments and the recruiting process becomes much easier because thy become part of the loop. If she can prove herself as a student athlete in a two year JUCO or NAIA college, and get to actually play against D1 or D2 schools – these colleges will be more likely to bring her aboard as a junior. REMEMBER NATIONAL LETTER OF INTENTS ARE JUST ONE YEAR CONTRACTS, which means colleges are always looking to add to and improve their rosters.
7. By all means, please CLEAN UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA! NOW! Did you know that nearly all colleges actually have PAID people on staff that do nothing all day but troll the social media campaigns of prospective recruits. Snapchat, Kik, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and all other social media can MAKE or BREAK your collegiate potential.
8. Remember that college coaches don’t really care what a parent has to say about their own child. None of us see our kids for what they truly are. Letters of references and referrals look much better coming from a teacher, coach, or school ball coach etc. They really are not interested in listening to parents brag about their children. (Which we all do, but it won’t make a great impression)
9. YOUR BEHAVIOR COUNTS. It should go without saying that if your daughter is at a showcase or camp with college coaches around, you need to 1) leave them alone and 2) act sane on the sidelines. You are a reflection of your daughter.
10. Stop STRESSING! Let your daughter play ball and have fun! When the time is right, opportunities WILL present themselves. Forcing things along and making 10U or 12U or even 14U softball into a JOB, burns out the kid. We promise you from experience, that you will be very surprised when your kid hits 18U and go through high school just how many girls playing today are still playing!