College Recruiting Secrets

A college coach watched one of my students pitch to one batter and immediately said, “I like her and want to see more of her.” Was it her speed, moving pitches, or her size? None of the above.

The kid came into a game in muddy conditions with a little rain falling. The ball was slippery, but she did not complain. Her focus was intense. You could see that it was just her and the batter, and she was determined to win. The umpire’s zone was tight, but she simply adjusted. She wanted the ball and she owned the mound.

The number of D1 pitchers we are developing is pretty exciting, but plenty more are being recruited to smaller college programs, so we have a lot of knowledge about what it takes. However, a couple of those recruits surprised me. They were not that big or fast, but they were competitors on the mound and the college coaches picked up on that immediately.
Coaches notice the small things. We listen to coaches very carefully in order to learn what they are thinking. One of our kids had a bad inning. Between innings she grabbed a catcher, went to the bullpen, fixed her problem, and came back into the game with her stuff working beautifully. The college coach later told her that was a defining moment in their offering her a scholarship.

College coaches know they won’t always see your best performance. They are looking at other factors. How do you handle a tough inning? Are you a team player, do you stay strong when facing adversity, how do you relate to coaches, and how does pressure affect you? Do you blame the umpire for your failure or get upset when an infielder makes a silly error? Are you yelling at mommy, demanding another sport drink? How do your parents act at games? Yes, that can be a huge factor. Are you pouting in the dugout, communicating with the team, aware of every situation, focused on every pitch or every play? What does your travel ball coach say about you? They may judge your warmups as much as the game performance to get a feel for your work ethic and preparation.

These are only the beginning. How are your grades? Colleges have precious few scholarships and are not going to waste them on someone who may become academically ineligible.

Finally, character is huge. Where do coaches go to learn about that? Social media. You are recording your thoughts, your issues, and your behavior for everyone to see. They are going to have to live with you for thousands of hours over the next four years so they need to know any baggage you are bringing to team. Nothing has a more detrimental effect.

Once you have passed these tests, a college may develop serious interest in you. They must be comfortable with your attitude, background, behavior, and ability to adjust to their systems first, and only then will they seriously look at your ability to perform.