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The "Junior Day" Visit

by Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

We try to answer a few questions about high school player's visit during a college baseball program's "Junior Day"

What is a "Junior Day" visit, what should I expect, what does it mean with regards to a college baseball program's interest in a player?

First of all not all or even a majority of college baseball programs have a "Junior Day" visit program. Most schools hold their Junior Days in the fall or late fall, before the collegiate baseball seasons start. These are usually tied in with an on campus school sporting event. (football or basketball game) A few schools will hold their Junior Days in conjunction with a home baseball weekend. My son was even invited to a Junior Day that involved attending a s****r game!

Keep in mind that "Junior Day" visits are unofficial visits. The school can not pay, provide or compensate you for travel, lodging or meal expenses. There is no limit on unofficial visits allowed by the NCAA, for high school student-athletes.

Who is Invited To a Junior Day?
College team's will typically invite players on their prospect list that live within an easy day's drive of their campus. This can be players that they have already seen in person, players that have sent letters, expressing an interest in the program and players that scouts or other sources have recommended to the coaching staff.

In many cases it is an opportunity for the coaching staff to meet the player for the first time. Sometimes this is the first chance for a college coach to perform the "look test."

What Is The "Look Test?"
The "look test" is very simple .... With so many players and high school coaches exaggerating the physical stats about themselves it is an important phase of the recruiting process. A college coach needs to find out whether a player really is 6'-1" tall and 185 lbs., or if he is really 5'-10" tall and 165lbs. Is the player a soft or hard body .... does his frame look like it can carry more muscle. Is he shaving yet, will he grow more? How big are Mom and Dad?

Additionally each college baseball coach has a preferred body type for players, at certain positions. For example, I know one college coach that does not like "square shouldered" pitchers, another that does not like short legged middle infielders, etc.

The "Look Test" is just another step in the overall recruitment of a high school player.

What Should I Expect On A Junior Day Visit?

  • Players (and parents) will meet the coaching staff at a pre-determined place and time.
  • The number of invitees will vary from school to school. Some schools will have a very small "targeted" group -- others will use a "shotgun" approach and invite a large group. (50 or more sometimes)
  • The coaches will speak to the players and parents -- typically a tour of the baseball and athletic facilities will be first on the agenda.
  • Some schools will have student-athlete guides that will take the guests on a tour of the campus -- if the weather is pretty and the campus is not too large this may be a walking tour.
  • In some cases the players may be split off from the parents. Players and student-athlete chaperones will take the players on a tour and other college or student guides will go with the parents.
  • The usual tour stops will include the athletic facilities, including weight and training facilities, athletic medical / therapy facilities, the library, student center, the computer center, a new academic building on campus may be "highlighted". Sometimes a typical dorm room is visited. Many times the best "on campus" dining hall is on the tour list.
  • Players and their parents may be invited to a lunch function, or a pre-game tailgate event. Players and parents MUST pay for their meals at normal value. The school can not provide free meals to players (or their parents) on an unofficial visit. These are usually simple events and prices for meals are kept low ($5 or $6 dollars).
  • Players and their families may be given complimentary tickets to an on campus sporting event. Football, basketball or other event. These tickets must be regular admission tickets. Players and or their parents can not be hosted in a "skybox" or other such arrangement.

What Does a Junior Day Invitation Mean?
An invitation to one of these events means that the baseball program has some interest in the player. It is very preliminary and DOES NOT mean that a program is recruiting a player. Most players that attend a college Junior Day never receive a telephone call from that college.

If a player has a real interest in playing baseball and attending school at a college that invites him to a Junior Day it is very important that he make every effort to attend the event. In some cases players that do not attend a Junior Day, when invited, are removed from the program's prospect list. Of course this is not always true -- but it does happen, especially with marginal players. Prospects that a school covets greatly will continue to be aggressively recruited.

Under all circumstances if a player can not attend a junior day he should write the Head Coach a note thanking him for the invitation and asking that he continue to stay in touch. A brief explanation of why you can not attend will be a good idea. (before the date of the event) DO NOT tell a coach that you will not be attending his event because you are going to one at another school!! (this has happened)

Other Tips
Always always always write a letter thanking the Head Coach for the "great time" that you had, on your "Junior Day" visit, at his school. If it is not during the school's baseball season you may want to call the coach and thank him. If you have the coach's email address it is fine to send this type of thank you via email.

Student-athlete's attendance at Junior Day events should be "pressure free" and a good time. It gives the player and his family an opportunity to learn more about the school and the baseball coaching staff. Ideally you will get to meet and talk with current players, to ask them about their experiences at the school. Just be yourself.

Have Fun ... Invitation to a Junior Day is a nice honor and a positive step along the recruiting trail.

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