It’s true that the internet has given coaches the ability to see and evaluate (to a certain extent) players near, far and everywhere in between, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to sit back and wait for schools to come knocking. Here are some tips to help you seek out the right school for you:
1. Make good grades. You will be recruited first because of your ability and awareness. Obviously, grades are certainly a very important aspect of this: high academic marks result in additional scholarship money, which can be a great aid to players, parents, and coaches alike.
2. Don’t send a bunch of e-mails, send a bunch of quality e-mails. Considering the immense amount of emails that coaches get on a daily basis, anything stating something like, “Coach, I love your school and really want to play for your program” is probably going to get deleted. So for example, after you find out that Coach John Doe at State University College has just lost all three of his left handed pitchers to graduation, drop him a line explaining that you’re a left-handed pitcher with some good breaking stuff and remember to add a link to your YouTube channel.
3. Use your references. Find a coach (or a couple of them) that will reach out to college coaches on your behalf, if they’re not already. Make sure you let them know where you would like to go and get their opinions on how they see you fitting into those particular programs, if they’re familiar with them. If your coach doesn’t seem willing to reach out to certain higher-echelon, Division I programs, then take a hint and aim a little lower. Or if you’re convinced that you’re flying that low under the radar, you can always just quit seeking your coaches’ help. Chances are, however, they are looking out for your best interests as a student-athlete and their best interests as an “advance scout” for college programs – remember you’re probably not the first player in your high school program that will go on to play college ball. Also remember that there are a lot of high school coaches with very good reputations as liaisons to colleges, and that’s because they’re honest. Conversely, there are many poor reports that are heard often about “five-tool players” and “diamonds in the rough” that fall of deaf and tired ears.
4. Gather information. Understand the personnel needs of the school(s) that you hope to attend. For example, if you’re a first baseman and there’s a school on your radar that’s already got a bunch of them, it’s not likely that they’ve earmarked scholarship money (or a spot on the roster at all) for another.
5. Make a list, and check it twice. Have you only ever had one good, recurring dream that occurs over and over when you sleep? No, probably not. Then why would you limit yourself to just one “dream school?” It’s fine to have a “favorite,” but it’s just unrealistic to LIMIT yourself to just one school, and it is likely to set you up for failure and disappointment.
6. Find a school that fits. Once you’ve made a list, start visiting campuses! Take a tour and do some research on who offers what in terms of majors before you look into the baseball program. Find a place where you can see yourself as a student before you start thinking about being an athlete. After all that, go to a couple baseball camps and for goodness sakes, go check out a game! How can you have legitimate interest in playing for a team that you’ve never seen in person?
7. Go somewhere you can play. There are around 500,000 high school baseball players across the country. In 2013, there were 298 NCAA Division I baseball teams, each with 35-man rosters. That’s a roundabout way of saying that only 2% of high school baseball players end up playing Division I baseball. Some of the best players in the country are currently with Division II, III, NAIA and junior college programs because they went somewhere where they could play right away.