NCSA

Why your softball recruiting efforts shouldn’t take a vacation

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School may be out for summer, but while student-athletes enjoy a break from the stress of the classroom, they shouldn’t take the same approach in their recruiting process. Taking advantage of the newfound free time, prospective recruits’ summers should be planned around activities that push the process forward.

It may not sound like as much fun while their friends are off at the beach and floating down a lazy river, but spending the summer expanding their list of colleges, improving their craft on the diamond and making connections with coaches will set them apart from the rest of the field. So, when the time rolls around, they will be fielding offers while the kids at the beach will be wondering why they aren’t hearing back from any coaches.

With no assignments or tests to worry about, the summer break should be devoted to the recruiting process. The Women’s College World Series has come to a close and softball coaches devote their summer to get caught up on student-athletes emails, delve into recruiting videos, evaluate key measures, traveling to camps and tournaments to evaluate talent and actively communicate with prospective recruits that they are allowed to.

So, what can you do to maximize your recruiting process over summer break? Take a look at four tips to a successful summer!

Hone your craft

You won’t generate interest from a coach if you don’t have the skills to stand out from everyone else on the field. While it can be a frustrating process, dedicating the time to work on the specifics will pay off in the long term.

In preparing for combines, you should focus on training for those specific tests. Improving quickness and agility through drill work and practicing the 20-yard dash on a daily basis will prepare you to set numbers that will stand out to college coaches.

Summer is the club team season and your schedule will be busy with tournaments, camps and other team activities. Though the in-game experiences will benefit you and make you a better player, it will only get you so far. To take your skillset to the next level, you need to practice in a non-game environment where you can put your full attention and focus toward improving your form.

If you’re a pitcher, work on improving your command each day. At the plate, fight the urge to jump into live pitching and dedicate a chunk of every practice session to fundamental training off a tee. Coaches are looking for power hitters and student-athletes with superior levels of physical fitness. If you haven’t already, start incorporating cardiovascular and strength training into your workout. You’ll be getting a little better each day and by the end of the summer – when you get back to your high school team for the fall season – your teammates will find a whole new competitor on the diamond.

Do your homework/take field trips

No more pencils, no more books! Summertime means freedom from mentally draining schoolwork. Student-athletes shouldn’t slack off and stop working on their recruiting process in the free time.

You should take the free time and turn up the level of your college search. Make it enjoyable: take your laptop outside into the summer sun and spend the afternoon researching colleges, building a list of target schools and sending emails to coaches at schools that interest you.

Without the restriction of weekends only, the summer months should be used to take field trips and visit a number of college campuses on your list. While you may not be able to capture the full picture – with the college’s students away from campus enjoying their summer off – you get to walk around, get a feel for the atmosphere and, in many cases, witness the campus at its peak state of natural beauty. You can visit the softball field and practice facilities to get a taste of where you could be spending the next four years of your life.

You can turn a field trip to campus into an unofficial visit, but keep in mind the new softball recruiting rules change that restricts a coaches involvement in unofficial visits until after September 1 of their junior year.

Attend camps and tournaments

The key to recruiting is to get on a coach’s radar. More than half of softball coaches across all levels of competition (NCAA D1, D2, D3, NAIA and JUCO) find the majority of their recruits at tournaments and camps. They are the best way to get in front of coaches at your targeted schools and have them actively evaluate your skills.

Various camps will allow you to either travel to the college campus or interact with a coach participating at another school’s camp. Overnight camps will give you an opportunity to live the college experience: staying in the dorms, eating the food in the cafeteria and exploring the campus layout. Skill-specific camps can help work on valuable skills, such as hitting for power and can take your game (and scholarship value) to another level.

Tournaments and showcases give you the opportunity to be evaluated in live game situations. There will often be more than 10 coaches in attendance, so make sure that you identify which schools are on your list and contact those coaches. Send them your tournament schedule so they know where you are at all times, that way they don’t have to actively search to find you. Combines provide an opportunity to bolster your online profile and equip you with tangible data to send over to coaches.

Make sure to fill in your summer schedule with camps and tournaments, but most importantly, get in contact with coaches and strategically craft your summer schedule to place you in front of the coaches at schools you are interested in.

Make your game plan

Summer is a good time to evaluate your current skill set and look back at your previous season’s body of work. Determine your strengths and identify the weaknesses that you need to work on over the summer.

Schedule a time to talk with your current travel or club coach, or your high school coach. Ask them about where your role on the team in the upcoming season and their evaluation of areas that you need to improve. Your coaches can also help you set realistic college goals and point you in the right direction for targeting schools at a level of competition appropriate for you.

Then, hit the diamond (or the weight room) and start attacking your goals! Make sure to write down your goals and expectations and track them throughout the summer. Set benchmarks that you want to achieve in the upcoming season and keep progressing.

While you hit the pavement in maximizing your recruiting efforts, don’t forget to jump in the pool, go for a hike, or enjoy some of your free time to simply relax. Experience activities outside of softball. It’s a great way to avoid burning out and to refresh your drive and passion for the game.

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