What to know before you take a swing at playing college ball

As a baseball recruit or parent of a baseball recruit, it’s easy to live in a bubble made up of teammates, opponents, coaches, friends, and family. However, outside of that bubble, the baseball recruiting process can be difficult and confusing. And part of that difficulty and confusion often stems from the fact that, instead of competing on the diamond within that bubble, you or your son are now competing against every other high school baseball player on the recruiting trail. And the only opinions that matter in that world are college coaches’. So to help better understand how coaches approach the recruiting process, take a few minutes to consider it from their perspective.

Not Every Player Gets A Full Scholarship

While most people are familiar with the recruiting process for college football and basketball, the biggest misconception baseball coaches deal with is the belief that he has full scholarships for every player. In reality, NCAA college baseball is an equivalency sport, and coaches only have an equivalent number of scholarships they can award. In Division I, coaches can award the equivalent of 11.7 scholarships while in Division II, coaches are limited to the equivalent of nine scholarships. And that means coaches are far more likely to offer partial scholarships as an incentive to attract more players. That’s not to say full-ride baseball scholarships don’t happen, but for most baseball players and baseball parents, expecting a full-ride scholarship is asking to be disappointed.

It’s Business, Not Personal

As a player, you’ve spent a good part of your life trying to be a better ballplayer. As a parent, you’ve likely made a big investment in time, money, and emotion trying to help your player fulfill his dream. However, for a college baseball coach, all recruits are initially judged by one question: Can this player help my program win? That’s the first thing a coach will look at when considering a recruit’s stats or recruiting video. If that criteria sounds nebulous or subjective, it is. And that’s because…

Every Coach has Different Standards

While every college baseball coach has specific qualities they look for in a recruit, those standards can vary widely based on the coach and the player. That means it’s not unusual to see one player garner interest from college A, while a player with comparable size, skill, and stats gets no interest from College B. Don’t take it personally. Just remember that, if you want to play college baseball, every coach has different holes to fill and every coach fills those holes using different pieces. Ultimately, it’s simply a matter of finding where you can find the best fit.

There’s No Room for Nuance

As noted above, whether it’s a particular body type or physical dimensions, a live arm, a quick bat, or a pure swing, college coaches have certain standards they look for. And, given that baseball coaches have a lifetime of baseball experience, most of them will know what they’re looking for when they see it. Now, consider the sheer number of highlight videos they receive from recruits and it should be no surprise that most college coaches can, and do, quickly ascertain if a player has “it.”

If they do see it, they’ll likely want to see you in person. If they don’t, you might receive a “We’re not interested” letter. That’s not a be-all, end-all judgment. That’s just one coach’s assessment. And if one recruiting door closes, remember you can still grow, improve your skills, and find plenty of other open doors, and college baseball opportunities, at other schools or in other divisions.

The point of all of the above is that not every player is the right fit for every baseball program. It’s not personal. In fact, given the subjective nature of baseball recruiting, it’s actually more like a puzzle. If you’re not the right piece for a particular program’s recruiting puzzle, don’t get discouraged. Instead, move your recruiting efforts toward a school and baseball program that fits you, and where you can fit in.

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