Easing the Tension of the Recruiting Process Copy

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“It seems that more and more players are caught up in the goal of being recruited instead of focusing on developing as a baseball player.” This was a line from Bates College Head Coach, Mike Leonard in the December Coach’s Corner. Granted, we all understand players attend showcases and camps to be recruited. However, Coach Leonard illustrates the discrepancy in priorities during the recruiting process between players and coaches. For players, the priority is being recruited. For coaches, it is finding players who fit their program and strive to get better.

The real priority for a player and his family should be commitment. Probably not the ‘commitment’ you are thinking. I’m not talking about the college commitment you are so excited to tweet out. Sometimes it seems like that “tweet” is all players really want. They lose sight of the commitment to the process. Commitment to the process means not only committing to improve your game, but committing to allow the recruiting process to work its course.

There is no exact science to the recruiting process, but there is one absolute; you will undoubtedly feel tension at times. If someone tells you the process was easy for them they are either not being honest or they will probably be on ESPN this summer in the AFLAC All American Game. Even for that elite level of player there is a discomfort and uneasiness about the process.

How do I ease the tension?

Control the Controllables

College coaches will preach to their teams about focusing on the process and not the outcome. You can’t control wins and losses. You can’t control your opponent. You CAN control how you prepare. The same applies to recruiting. You cannot control the other players out there. Too often guys get hung up on the ‘other’ commits. “I saw on Perfect Game they committed ‘insert name here’.” You cannot control what coaches think of the other guy, only what they think of you. Focus on YOUR game.

Be Relentless About Improving

The players who focus on improving are the players who perform better. Replace the need to be recruited with the desire to get better, and you will have a recipe for success. I can’t tell you how many times we have heard from a coach, “I’ve seen him a lot this summer, but he hasn’t made any adjustments.” After the game don’t ask, ‘who was in the stands’, ask, ‘what did I do better today than yesterday? What can I do better tomorrow?’

Allow the Process to Happen

Coaches can smell desperation on a recruit. It is a pungent odor. The timeline unfolds at a different rate for each player. Don’t worry about when Johnny commits. Worry about your own timeline. Nobody has the right to find a school in a certain time frame. Understand you will find the right place when the right place finds you.

Mom & Dad, Don’t Add Tension

We see this one all the time – player strikes out looking and immediately turns his head to see dad’s reaction in the stands. I’ll let you in on a secret…your son understands that taking strike 3 isn’t the goal of his at bat, he does not need you to let him know that. Mom & Dad, be his cheerleaders.

Find a Third Party Opinion

Getting an honest evaluation from someone outside of your inner circle is vital to the process. The key is finding a third party who is qualified to make an evaluation of a player regarding where he stands as a college recruit. Find someone who knows what college players look like at different levels.

Come Down to Earth

Top 25 programs recruit All Americans. If you were an All American you would know it. There would not be an email addressed, “Dear Recruit”, inviting you to an All American Team tryout. That third party opinion can help you and your family focus on the right level appropriate for you. Chasing a dream is a great thing. Don’t let anyone tell you that shooting high is poor judgement. The crux of shooting high is potentially missing opportunities because you are shooting too high for too long. Don’t let a good thing pass you by. The grass is not always greener.

Pressure is part of being an athlete. Tension is brought on by your own worries of factors you cannot control. The ability to not let pressure impact your performance is what separates the elite athletes from the also-rans. There will be pressure during your recruiting process. If there is not, you should rethink how much it means to you to be a college athlete. Use these tips to ease some of the tension. Begin to control your own process. The more prepared you are, the less stress, pressure, and tension you will feel and experience. If you take nothing else away, take away this; control what you can control, and be relentless about improving.


Coach’s Corner

Coach’s Corner provides tips on the recruiting process from the viewpoint of the nation’s finest college coaches.


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Coach’s Corner with:

Mike Deegan – Denison University Head Coach

Below are seven pieces of advice to help you with your college search.

1. Think about your growth as a person: I hope you make it to the Big Leagues but the odds are against you. When looking at schools consider which schools and baseball programs are going to help you grow as a person and assist in your development as a man.

2. Do not ask this question: If you are fortunate enough to play college baseball it is going to be competitive. Avoid asking coaches, “what’s the chance of me playing right away.” The majority of coaches I know are committed to playing their best players. All a coach can provide is an opportunity. Your job is to earn your role.

3. Help your team win: By nature, the recruiting process is selfish. It’s all about the individual. COLLEGE IS ALL ABOUT THE TEAM. Coaches, to some extent, are paid to win games. You want to get noticed, help your current team win.

4. Your passion and joy must be visible: In college, you must dedicate a lot of time and energy to your craft. In addition, as a coach, I spend more time with our players than I do with my own children. I want to surround myself with positive life forces. If you don’t LOVE the game it is going to be tough. When I recruit, I look for a high passion level.

5. How you present yourself matters: On visits, be respectful to your parents. If you are disrespectful to your parents, I’m judging you. Be yourself, be engaging and enjoy your visit but please know coaches are paying close attention to your interactions with others.

6. You have to prioritize: Academics #1, athletics #2 and everything else a DISTANT #3. Balancing academics and a competitive athletic program is very doable. When other things unseat academics and athletics is when trouble arises.

7. Avoid comparing your recruiting experience: The recruiting process is different for everyone. Some guys will commit during their freshmen year of high school; others won’t make a decision until May of their senior year. It is o.k. It is not a sprint; relax and enjoy the process.

I wish you the best of luck on your journey. Please let me know if I can ever help.

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