How To Target Market Your Son
To A College Baseball Program
Baseball Parent Magazine
by Wayne Mazzoni
Recruiting is really a job search. If your son were looking for a job, would he wait for companies to come knocking on his door? Of course not. Your son must recruit the coaches at the schools he wants to attend. Since he is probably one of thousands of good high school players in the U.S., he needs to make himself known. Many colleges he could play for are too far away or too strapped for money to come and see him play. And other schools won't know about his desire to play college baseball until he tells them.
The key to the recruiting process in baseball is to target the appropriate colleges that are an academic and an athletic match for your son. I think that targeting schools should be based on several criteria, none of which has anything to do with baseball. Should your son not make the team, get injured, or decide later on not to play during his college career for some reason, it is important that he be enrolled in a school that meets his non-baseball needs.
The criteria for selecting a school should be based on your son's make up. Factors such as location, cost, setting, number of students, academic reputation, areas of study, faculty, computer systems available to students, social life, and the quality of the physical plant should help you narrow down the choices from the more than 1,400 possible colleges in the nation with a baseball program.
For example, if he doesn't want to be more than three hours away from home, you have narrowed down your search considerably. If he is determined to play in Florida, again you have more narrowly targeted your search. Your goal should be to reduce the number of schools your son is interested in to a more manageable number of 50 or so.
One of the best ways to get information on school's is to use reference books. Peterson's Four Year College Guide and The Sport Source Official Baseball Guide are excellent. Also use the internet. Most schools have an internet site that provides detailed information about the university, its baseball team, coaches, schedule, and camps.
Another source is your high school guidance counselor. And hiring an educational counselor is also smart, if you can afford it. They are often former guidance counselors or college admissions counselors and give you personalized help during the selection, admissions and financial aid processes. Also keep in mind that such counselors may have a limited baseball knowledge and background.
Then determine which of the 50 schools you've targeted is a match for your son's baseball talent. As a former Division I college baseball coach, I have often seen players walk on at Div. 1 schools and get cut in one day, when they could have played at a Div II or III school. On the other hand, I have seen many players in Div. III who were Division I quality.
As a parent you will be biased in your assessment of his skills. You need help to determine the answer to the important question: "What level is my son good enough to play at?"
Ask high school, summer, or opposing coaches. They'll give you a fair evaluation of your son's talent. Keep in mind that some high school coaches have a solid understanding of college baseball, while others do not, so don't base your decision on his opinion alone.
However, it is of utmost importance that you and your son have a good relationship with his high school coach. While not all college coaches will make decisions on a high school coach's evaluation of baseball ability, most will judge aspects of a player's character by what the high school coach says about him. Your son may have problems with his coach. But high school coaches are teaching and coaching because they want to help kids. And if your son doesn't get along with his coach, he at least has the opportunity to learn one of life's great lessons .... how to make the best of a bad situation.
Enroll in showcases and summer select camps and regular camps. They will give college coaches the opportunity to evaluate your son's skills against those of other players interested in playing college baseball. Further, coaches will have an opportunity to get to know your son, his work ethic, his ambitions, and his competitiveness, which is vitally important to them. Camps held at colleges are great opportunity for your son to spend time on a college campus and discover what he likes or dislikes about it.
Ask college coaches who have seen him play. Whether they are interested in him for their own program or not, most will give a fair evaluation of your son's baseball skills. Again, don't base any decisions on one such coach, but each obviously knows what level of talent is in his own program.
Ask former players. Players who have graduated before your son and have gone on to compete in college could have a good understanding of his talent compared to that of other players on their particular team. And if your son has played against a college player, he may know as well as anyone what your son is capable of.
Determine how he ranks on his team and against others in your area. Some teams and conferences are not as strong as others. Simply being the best player on a team or league may not qualify your son to compete at the highest level in college. On the other hand, if your son has played sparingly in high school, this doesn't mean he can't compete in college and get a scholarship. What if a good high school catcher doesn't play because the starting catcher on his team is the best in the state?
By taking these steps you should be able to narrow down your son's list from 50 to perhaps 15 schools, which will make the task of targeting the coaches and admissions directors at this number of schools manageable.
Now maximize his exposure. Write letters of introduction that are personally addressed to a head coach or recruiting coach, citing his conference, his record, and team nickname, plus other information indicating to him that your letter isn't a form letter. State why he is interested in that school and athletic program, which will set him apart from 90 percent of the other players wanting to play in college.
Include a resume with academic and athletic information and references, such as coaches, scouts, alumni from that university who can attest to his athletic ability and character. Send a game schedule for his summer team. Include an up to date photo which helps the coach evaluate his physical appearance and if and when they come to see him they already know what he looks like.
Also include a list of camps and showcases he'll be attending. Then send updates about how he performed at weekend tournaments and showcases, to keep his name fresh in the coach's mind, to show his persistence, and to follow his progress over the summer as a player. And don't hesitate to have him make telephone calls to select coaches.
Create a videotape of his skills. Shoot it from several different angles. Coaches also like to hear him speak, which tells them if he is confident, well spoken, and serious. Keep it under 10 minutes. Only put his baseball information on the tape. Edit everything else off. Make several copies, since they may not be returned.
There is far more to the process, such as eligibility requirements, recruiting rules, and financial aid to mention a few. But if you follow these steps, your son will find himself choosing from among the schools that are best for him.
Reprinted from: Baseball Parent Magazine