AZDR Recruiting Primer: The “Right Fit”
But while the term is thrown around like a frisbee, what exactly does it mean?
For starters, it’s important to understand that finding the college that is the right fit will be a unique experience to every player.
No 2 players are alike. They all have different athletic traits and different academic resumes.. not to mention their own definition of an ideal college.
I think it is vital for players and their families to sit down and discuss their criteria for a college decision.
Academics: Obviously if a student athlete knows what he is interested in studying in college, pursuing only those schools that offer a degree in that field would be a good idea.
In addition, it is necessary to take an inventory of where you are as a student. In other words, if your high school GPA is 3.0, reaching out to MIT would be a bit of a waste of time and effort.
Geography: I’ve assisted hundreds of players and their families in the recruiting process over the years, and I’ve always asked players where they would like to go to school.
I’ve found that the majority of high school players in Arizona would like to play in the western U.S., if not stay in Arizona.
In addition, many players have no desire to go to a cold weather state to play.
This is where reality often rears its head, and some tough decisions must be made.
You see, the cold hard truth is that the western U.S. is a relative wasteland compared to the east when it comes to the number of colleges. This really isn’t brain surgery, the population density out west is significantly lower.
I compiled these numbers several years ago, and while the percentages might have changed slightly, the message is the same.
Perhaps even more striking are the following numbers, when one moves the line to just west of Texas.
The reality is that if you are limiting your college search to the west coast, you are missing out on a boatload of possible options.
Size of School: I think college enrollment numbers are one of the most misunderstood things for families in the process of selecting a school.
I often hear players say that they don’t want a school that is smaller than their high school.
While many of you find the idea of attending a large college in a “power conference” with big time football to be desirable, the reality is that for the vast majority of you, it won’t happen if you would like to play college baseball.
Here are the numbers from The U.S. Department of Education:
Over 60% of colleges in this country have under 2500 students. Over 88% of colleges in this country have under 10,000 students.
Here’s the reality: If the “big school experience” is a necessity for you, it will probably come at a cost…..the end of your baseball playing days. It’s very important to understand that there are excellent colleges with outstanding baseball opportunities in smaller schools.
Level of Competition: I think it is extremely important for players and their families to take an accurate inventory of where the player falls on the competitive spectrum. Understanding what college coaches look for in a prospective recruit is vital, and this is an area that many families don’t understand well.
Remember this: playing on a team with a player who is receiving a great deal of recruiting attention has nothing to do with you or your future.
By the same token, competing against top prospects does not make you one.
This can be a very difficult thing for players to wrap their arms around. The process is confusing, and the misinformation is abundant.
It’s easy to think you are a prospect when your inbox is full of invitations from college camps. In reality, these invites mean little to nothing.
College coaches are looking for athletes. They need players with tools that will continue to develop. They covet speed and strength.
Seek out the opinion of people who understand player evaluation and who can give you a realistic opinion of where you stand.
This will allow you to focus your efforts to programs that make sense, rather than chasing those that don’t.
Strategy: So now that you have formulated a criterion for your college baseball fit, what next?
Now it’s time to do some homework.
The internet is a wonderful tool for researching colleges and college baseball programs.
Websites like www.collegexpress.com and www.collegedata.com allow you to search schools using a variety of criteria.
Develop a list of schools that you feel are a fit academically, geographically and athletically.
This doesn’t mean 5 schools, and it doesn’t mean 200. Somewhere in the middle is a manageable number.
Once you have developed a list of targets, it’s time to begin communicating with coaches.
This is a good time to point out that college coaches want to hear from players who have interest in their program.
They do not want to hear from recruiting services.
I had a D1 coaching friend of mine tell me a couple of weeks ago that he opens every email from players and deletes every email from a recruiting service.
Keep it simple. Tell them who you are and that you have interest in playing for his program.
Attach a link to your player profile that also should include video.
When I launched the AZDR Clubhouse recently, it wasn’t simply meant to be a database for coaches to search.
More importantly, the Clubhouse provides each player with a customizable player profile that can contain video. Sample Profile .
It also does this very cheaply….$12.99 per month.
Providing the link to your player profile gives the coach everything he needs to assess whether you are a prospect for his program.
If your recruiting strategy is simply to play in as many tournaments as possible in hopes of being discovered, there is a very high likelihood that your strategy will fail.
Be smart about this.
Unfortunately there is no roadmap or blueprint that will work for each and every player.
But understand this: If you are sitting around doing no communicating with college coaches, you will probably have little success in your college search.