As a sports parent and coach I understand the vital importance of an athlete maximizing her opportunities during a showcase, camp or tournament in an effort to get recruited. Below are 7 surefire tips for how your athlete can stand out from the crowd to improve her chances to get recruited:
1. As a parent or coach do your best to SUPPORT her all week. She may feel intense pressure to perform, particularly if certain college coaches she has invited to watch her actually show up! Help her to keep it all in perspective and refrain from getting down on her or ADDING to her pressurized world.
2. I saw a sign tonight in one of the men's College World Series dugouts that read "Will Over Skill." Remind her that her effort will be as or more important than her talent this week. Lots of kids have talent, but acts of effort and willpower absolutely leave a lasting impression on college coaches.
3. Energy is key to college coaches. Being loud, running on and off the field (yes, even after an out as a hitter), picking up a teammate's bat, can really get the attention of any college coach. High energy on the field and in the dugout shows a love for the game. Coaches will gladly take 20 of those kids!
4. Body language is critical! College coaches played the game (softball or baseball), and they know no one is perfect. Believe it or not these coaches are more interested in seeing how an athlete responds after failure or game adversity, and slumping shoulders, or visible anger or frustration are quick ways to get crossed off the recruiting list.
5. Because everyone makes mistakes your athlete MUST have a SHORT MEMORY. A mistake in the field, poor at bat or rough inning in the circle will only define her performance if she lets it. Live for the opportunity of the next pitch, at bat or game!
6. Versatility. Most college coaches like versatility in an athlete. If your athlete plays two positions be sure her profile page, skills video and game participation shows it. As an example a catcher that also can play the outfield, or a pitcher that can play the outfield/infield and HIT are extremely valuable commodities. A slapper that can slap, bunt, power slap and hit away is EXTRA valuable. If she's got it, show it!
7. Show off your strengths...like CRAZY! I always remind my catchers to show off their arm at showcases...all the time. No one cares (or should care) who wins showcase games, so whatever her strengths are show them off on defense, hitting, pitching and base running. Pitchers throw inside and show all your pitches. As a hitter stretch that single into a double. Who cares if you got thrown out. The college coaches watching only see her speed and hustle!I hope you and your athlete will take these valuable tips to heart and I wish you the best in the recruiting process! And remember, despite the "investment" you are making in hotels, gas, air and food, it's still just a game...enjoy the experiences because one day she won't be playing any longer. What in the heck will you do with your weekends then?
Thanks for reading! --John Kelly