Another Showcase Tournament, Really???

Do you really need another college showcase tournament? Teams are running all over the country trying to get their kids recruited. Besides being terribly expensive, there are a number of reasons that too many showcases are bad for the game. Don’t get me wrong. A certain number of these are necessary, but balance is important.

One of the main problems with many showcase tournaments is the lack of serious competition. Most of these tournaments have no playoff, so the kids just play for fun. Everyone gets to play because some college coach may be watching. Winning or losing does not matter. The problem is that many colleges would like to see kids in games where winning does matter. You can’t determine how a kid handles pressure when there is none. You can’t determine her ability to handle the best pitching when she is facing the second and third best pitcher on a team. Every pitcher looks relaxed and confident when she doesn’t have to win or go home. Kids who play too many showcases will step into a college lineup and are shocked at how serious the game becomes. Teams will scratch and claw to beat you, bending the rules to the max, play mind games with you, and you are just not prepared for this because you did not spend enough time playing competitive softball.

Showcases encourage individualism. Your main purpose in being there is so a college coach will be impressed with you. It is all about you. It is hard to build teamwork when every player is in it for herself and the score doesn’t matter.

What about the kids who have already accepted a scholarship? Why are they there? These kids sometimes feel like misfits. Scholarship players sometimes skip showcases. If they come to the tournament, the right thing to do is to take a seat and let the kids who need to get recruited do most of the playing. If you remove the scholarship kids from the field the level of play just went down.

What are players learning about game plans and strategies? If the game does not count nobody gets serious. When I was coaching, if we were involved in a qualifier, one of us scouted every possible opponent and formulated a strategy. You had to do it. It was “win or go home”. People scouted us and we scouted them, looking for any possible advantage. Players were then issued a game plan that everyone had to execute for the good of the group. Nobody does this in a showcase, so an important learning opportunity is lost.

The final problem is that kids are so busy “showcasing” that they do not have time to prepare their skills to be “showcased”. It does not matter how many colleges see a kid if she does not get their attention.

Why do we play? It should be for the love of the game. Focusing too much on recruiting makes it tough to keep perspective. It can take away the reasons we play in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong. If a kid has college dreams, the first thing we tell them is that they do need to be on a team that gets exposure. But there needs to be limits. The quality of the tournaments is important. Do the right colleges come to these tournaments? Do your coaches do a good job of marketing players? More showcase tournaments is not the answer. Getting the most out of them is the goal.
Make sure you have time to play competitive tournaments, make sure you have some weekends free to work on your skills, and make sure the showcase tournaments your team plays attracts the schools in which you have interest. There is no good reason to go across the country if the college you want is not going to be there.

***Note: Check our website for information on Certified Instructors near you. These people bring a wealth of experience in recruiting, injury prevention and recovery, and ways to raise your game to the next level.

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