To finish our series outlining our fall program, I’d like to briefly discuss how we approach the task of getting our players to paly at the collegiate level. To begin, I think it is appropriate to emphasize that one of our main objectives is to attract players that have the desire to play at the next level and are willing to put in the time and energy to strive towards that goal. The ways that we help players to do that from the physical side are outlined in the previous posts, but it is important to note that the time and energy are not just spent on the field or in the gym, but in the attacking of the recruiting process. Another important thing to note is that every single player is going to be different. An understanding that there is no blanket way to get kids to the next level, and that their paths are going to vary is important for us as coaches to remember, and players and parents to grasp. With that said, this post will be split into two simple parts, the responsibility of us as coaches and the responsibility of the players and parents.
Our Responsibility as Coaches
From a coaching standpoint, we undoubtedly have an important role in helping our guys get to the next level. This starts with the task of developing their skills to a level that can play at the next level. This to us in the most important and obvious piece of the puzzle. Simply put, if you can’t physically play at the next level, you aren’t going to play at the next level. We emphasize this to our guys all the time and make sure that they understand that exposure doesn’t do you any good if there is nothing to expose!
The next thing we do at the beginning of each season is provide our guys with a valuable resource from College Baseball Advisors. This group out of Arizona has put together comprehensive material helping guide players through the recruiting process, and Don Mitchell has seen baseball from every level. This provides families with a guide that they can refer to whenever they need!
From there, we make a concerted effort to help our guys make a quality skills video that they can have as a tool to send to coaches. In the Internet age we live in, a skills video is extremely valuable for college coaches, as it allows them to get a good look at a player without having to travel across the country. We spend a practice day at the end of the fall getting footage of our guys hitting, taking groundballs and fly balls, throwing and pitching and compile the clips. The video is put up on our YouTube page so that our guys have easy access to the link and can use it as they see fit.
Another big responsibility for us as coaches is to make sure we are aware of opportunities for our guys, and creating a schedule that will get them as many potential looks as possible. We were fortunate enough to play at UNC, Metro State and University of New Mexico’s ballparks this fall where there were coaches from those schools as well as others present. This is the best thing we can do as a team to get our guys looks from those schools and others in the vicinity. In addition to what we do as a team, having a knowledge of players aspirations and aware of potential opportunities for them is important as well. If we can help advise them in camps and showcases that would suit their athletic and academic levels, we are doing our job. As mentioned earlier, each player is different, so not every player is going to be well suited for every opportunity. This fall, our players have an opportunity to attend the Arizona Fall Classics, which provide a good opportunity for all of those guys given the large number of schools at various levels that attend.
Finally, it our responsibility to connect with college coaches and prove ourselves to be a reputable source for those guys. Using previously established relationships, and working to connect to new coaches as much as we can is important not only for our current players, but for our future guys as well. In addition, we feel that the quality of our program and the reputation we are building in the baseball community is going to not only attract the right kinds of players, but also attract interest from college coaches who know that our guys are being developed to play at their level. This is a major goal of ours. Another tool we utilize is the Field Level website, which allows us to connect with coaches, and promote our guys who may fit that school and that level. We also work to reach out to coaches at schools that interest our players in other ways, such as an email or a phone call. When it boils down to it, our main responsibility is to work with and for each of our players individually to help them find the best opportunity at the next level.
Responsibilities of the Players
As much as we as coaches can help, we are firm believers that it is ultimately our players’ job to find a way to play at the college level. This may sound harsh, but having a plan and strategy from a player and family standpoint is the starting point, and we can help guide that process as coaches. I’ll jump right in and say that it is our players’ number one job work hard enough to be good enough to play at the college level, and that is stressed to our guys often! Exposure works both ways, and if you are exposing how “not good” you are, it won’t get you anywhere. Read more on that subject HERE. Having the tools, actions and game-ability to play at the next level is what coaches are looking for! While the saying “if youre good enough they’ll find you” rings true to us, players must take ownership of the recruiting process in order for that to happen
That being said, it is important that players make a list of schools that they are interested in attending at a realistic level. This takes some extra time and effort from our guys, but ultimately will be a guide for them as they look to play at the college level. It is important to remember that the academics are key, and that after a coach sees that he likes a players skills he immediately looks at grades. If schools can provide players with academic money, that’s less of a commitment that the baseball program has to make, which is a huge deal with a max scholarship amount of 11.7 in NCAA.
Our 2018 class this fall is very strong academically, so many of our guys have high academic Division 2 and Division 3 schools on their lists. We have a couple of junior college type players and students as well, so they are targeting that level. They have done a great job of researching these institutions, reaching out to coaches on their own with video, attending camps and taking visits. All of these pieces are what we encourage, and the guys that take ownership of this process are the ones that find a place to play. We encourage our guys to use the Target Schools feature on the Field Level website to make their list of schools. This allows us to see the updated list, connect with those coaches and promote our guys if they fit that school. We won’t promote that player if we don’t think he can play at that level, and we’ll work through those lists with our guys.
As stated earlier, the recruiting process is different for every single player, and it is our main objective within our fall program to work the process with each guy. We hold end of fall meetings with each player, and in addition to talking about their performance and skills from the fall and next steps in training, we also go over the recruiting process and next steps there. We by no means have this thing figured out, and we will continue to take what we learn from each player’s processes and help it with our players in the future!