Families: Do You Have a Baseball Budget?
I want to address something that I think gets routinely ignored in this process of advancing the young player to the next level. Developing and maintaining some sort of budget as it relates to the player development, summer/fall travel teams, and recruiting guidance pieces are something all families should do, but that very few act upon.
Let’s make no mistake about it. If you are a serious player who truly wants to play baseball after high school, it is going to be necessary to spend some cash. While it seems like the demands upon mom and dad’s bank account get stronger every year due to the multitude of newcomers on the scene, it really shouldn’t be necessary to break the bank to achieve your end goal.
Let’s look at each piece of this puzzle individually:
I wish I could tell families that it isn’t totally necessary to pay the money to play on a summer and/or fall team, but in today’s baseball world that’s not the reality.
However, before you make the decision about a team, do your due diligence. Find out how strong this program really is. The majority of our local teams play in many of the same events, there’s no reason to pay a premium. Still, for many teams you are looking at $1000-$2000 for the summer depending on the number of events.
In addition, don’t forget to factor in travel costs, and at the same time think logically as to whether this out of state tournament makes sense for your player. Let’s face it, for all of you spending the money traveling back east to tournaments, where are the AZ players who are being recruited and are signing with eastern schools? I don’t see many.
When it comes to college camps, they can be a very valuable tool in this process. However, when you factor in travel costs they are often very expensive.
While there is always potential player development taking place, I think most people view college camps as some sort of an exposure opportunity, and If you are the right player that can certainly be the case.
Unfortunately, I see most players spending money and time to attend camps at programs that they simply do not profile to. Most of you would love the opportunity to be recruited by the U of A, Grand Canyon or ASU, but very few of you profile to these D1 programs.
When I recommend a camp to a client player, it is because I think the player profiles to that college, and the player has an interest in that school. I’ll also typically contact the coaching staff ahead of time to let them know the player is coming and that he is someone that I think can contribute to their program.
There are typically 3 different types of showcases.
- The showcase that is attended by a healthy number of colleges.
- The showcase that pays college coaches to attend the event.
- The showcase that evaluates players and gives them a ranking or a numerical grade.
Showcase #1 would obviously be something to consider, but as with college camps, the schools attending need to be appropriate for the player’s ability and academic standing. I addition, it is important for the player to have been in communication with these programs ahead of time so that he shows up with a “target on his back”.
Showcase #2 came into vogue over the last decade when the D1 recruiting calendar began to feature the Quiet Period from November to March. Simply stated, coaches are not permitted off campus to conduct recruiting activities or to attend games, tournaments etc. The caveat to the rule is that coaches can be off campus if they are on the payroll of a camp.
These types of events should be heavily scrutinized. To begin with, coaches are attending to get a payday, not necessarily to recruit players. Because these events are open to anyone who wants to attend, the talent pool is usually pretty poor. Moreover, these types of showcases are normally very expensive.
I have never been a big fan of the Showcase #3 variety. Unless you are a top prospect (who doesn’t need to be there in the first place) you will probably receive a grade placing you in the middle of the pack (where most players fall of course), or get ranked as the 90th best player in your class, neither of which is going to do you any good.
As most of you know, for the better part of 20 years I have been providing guidance to families in the recruiting process. I started out being affiliated with a national recruiting service, but soon realized that the cost to families was higher than I liked, and a more personal hands on approach proved to be more effective.
When I began working with families under the AZDR/ Benham Sports Services name, I made a conscious effort to hold costs down. I realized early on that in the player development /advancement area, it often truly takes a village to get where you want to go. What I mean by that is that the Recruiting Guidance piece needed to fit in with the travel team, physical training, skill instruction, camps, showcases etc. I’ve always tried to keep my fees under $1200 over the course of an athlete’s high school career, although my initial cost to begin the process is far less than that.
I know many people are spending 2-3 times this amount on recruiting services, because many of these people contact me when things don’t go as expected. When families are making this type of financial commitment, they need to ask themselves what they expect to receive.
Here’s what I think my primary roles are for a player and his family:
- Provide an accurate assessment of a player’s ability, and what level he fits into in college. In my opinion this is the single most valuable thing I can do, as I think most families do not have an accurate feel for this issue. As a result, families spend too much time and money attending camps, showcases etc that are not appropriate for the player.
- Recommend schools and develop a strategy for contacting coaches. This is a totally unique situation for each player. Beware of companies who tout their “system” ….this is not a cookie cutter one size fits all blueprint.
- Evaluate strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations as to how to improve. This means recommending quality trainers, hitting/pitching instructors etc.
- Film and edit a quality recruiting video. I’ve always insisted on doing my own video work. I know what coaches want to see. I also get a really good look at the player for evaluating purposes.
- Insure that the player takes ownership of his situation. This means having accountability academically and athletically. I coach players to contact schools on their own. Remember, coaches want to hear from quality players who fit their program.
- Recommend players to college programs. While I like to see the player fully engaged in the process, it’s usually necessary to help “grease the skids” a bit to get a player a legitimate look.
- I tell my families that there is no such thing as a stupid question during this process. Most of you have no idea as to the validity of a camp or showcase. I welcome parents to send me the info, and I will investigate and give a thumbs up or thumbs down.
- Make recommendations as SAT/ACT prep, timing of taking the tests etc.
I’ve always limited the number of players I choose to work with and I always insist on a personal face to face meeting before agreeing to take on a client.
If you are considering the investment of recruiting assistance, do yourself a favor and give me a call before you make a decision. Invest a couple of hours of time to meet with me and I can offer you significant savings and 20 years of experience.
It’s a good idea for families to sit down and construct some type of a budget for baseball purposes. Planning ahead of time and being selective about what events to attend and what training can best benefit the athlete is responsible and could save you from spending needless money that could go to future tuition payments.