Monday, June 20, 2011

What are College Coaches Looking For?

This time of the year, many rising high-school seniors and juniors will try to be noticed by college coaches throughout the country during tournament and showcases, through recruiting DVDs and services, by self-promotion or recommendations. But what are these college coaches looking for in a player?
I can’t speak for every coach out there because each has a unique set of guidelines they take into consideration. But I would guess that most coaches have similar criteria in evaluating young players.
I’ll also mention that I coach at a small, NCAA Division III school. We are not allowed to give athletic money, which means several levels of talent are just unattainable to us. Even if there are certain kids that are “too good,” I am competing against other Division III school for players and still want to get the best talent I can.

Talent
Can you play baseball at a high level? We don’t typically recruit reserves – though that is where some end up. Many players try to walk on to our team in the fall, thinking, “It’s just Division III baseball.” But it is still college baseball.

For a program to keep making strides, coaches need to recruit players better than they already have. It’s alright for me to bring in a few “project” kids every year – players that could contribute a few years down the road. But the majority of kids I bring in should be able to compete for a starting job. 
Desire

Kids that come to our school (and most D-III schools in the north, for that matter) are more than likely not going to move on past collegiate baseball. So their academics have to come first. But the kids that I want have baseball as their second priority.
I also want freshman that won’t back down from a competition. I hope all of our incoming players work hard enough and expect to take the job of a returning player. I don’t want guys that are content to sit for a year or two to get their opportunity. Some players will overtake upperclassman and others won’t, but it’s the desire to play that will make those players unsuccessful practice harder and become better players.

Coachability
Are you a coachable kid? If I try and make corrections or improvements to your mechanics, are you going to listen and trust me? Or are you going to let my teaching go in one ear and out the other because of how your high school or AAU coach or dad taught you? Maybe a change works. Maybe it doesn’t. But my job as a coach is to try to develop you and make you the best player I can.

Character
Coaches have enough to worry about our teams on the field and in the classroom. The last things I want is to worry about are behavioral and social problems.

Winners
Like the scene from “The Natural,” losing can become a habit and players can become accustomed to it. Some players seem to accept losing, rather than have it burn a desire in them to work harder.

Part of my job as a coach is to create a positive atmosphere. But it is easier to do with players that come from successful high school and summer programs.
What Should a Player Look For?

Academic Programs
Players need to worry about their academics. To me, it is unrealistic that most 18-year olds know exactly what they want to do for the rest of their life. But you know what your interests are and probably have several potential majors in mind. Pick a school that offers the majors you may declare.

The School
The coaches are a good reason to pick a school. But the reality is that the coach you play for as a freshman may not be the same one you leave with as a senior. Make sure the school itself is where you want to spend the next four years.

I recommend that all of our recruits visit the campus and try to make an overnight visit to truly see what our university is like beyond the snapshot often seen during Admission tours and practices. 
Chance of Playing

Let’s face it; players wanting to play college baseball want to do just that – play. Do you feel in talking with the coach that you will have a good chance to play? I don’t know of any coach that will guarantee you playing time – most guarantee that you will have the opportunity to compete for a starting job.
But you can do your own research. Look at the teams stats from the previous year. If you’re a catcher and the school has an all-conference catcher that is going to be a junior and hit over .400, what are your chances to unseat him?

If you are looking at a scholarship school, how much money is being offered? There aren’t many baseball scholarships and the majority get split up (Division I has 11.7 and Division II has 9 full scholarships). Coaches are going to give scholarship money to players they feel can be impact players.
In the end, you have to make the decision that is best for and your family. With the high cost of higher education, most decisions are financially-based. Pick a school you feel comfortable with and somewhere you can see spending the next four years of your life.

We have a full article on what to expect while preparing for college baseball, visit our College Advice page at  www.ToTheTopPerformance.com/College_Advice.html.


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Monday, June 13, 2011

Good article from ESPN's Tim Kurkjian about Dodgers' pitcher Clayton Kershaw. The three best lines for young players "He doesn't want to be good. He wants to be the best," "He competes like crazy," and "He is able to be coached, retain information and put it to use."

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=kurkjian_tim&id=6640274


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