I have seen it all when it comes to scouting and recruiting. I coached college softball for over two decades in both NCAA D1 and NAIA levels, so I have a pretty good understanding of the recruiting process. As a former Power 5 head softball coach and now working as the Executive Director of Scouting for National Scouting Report the last few months, I often get asked by athletes, parents and high school coaches about college recruiting. The recruiting process can be intimidating and confusing, at times. However, that process could be over before it begins if you allow these 8 habits to be a part of who you are as a college softball prospect.
The tremendous growth of travel softball events has made identifying prospects much easier for college coaches. Prospects put on their skill set display for 6-8 weekends in the fall and an entire summer. You can see college coaches roaming from tournaments to showcases to combines. But there is a catch. Hear me softball prospects… Coaches go to events to scout athletes they already know about, not to find new ones!
At National Scouting Report our softball scouts are all over the country tuned into what coaches are doing and how they are doing it because we go where they go and we scout the same prospects they are looking at… all prospects at every level.
Competition among college softball coaches has always been very competitive. But the current recruiting environment allows college programs, when they see their chances improving of landing one recruit over another, to turn their heads away from other athletes who are equally qualified. It is the new nature of recruiting. That puts prospects at a distinct disadvantage. Yes, there are more coaches out there recruiting. However, one small slip in skill, attitude or other key trait can slow down or stop a prospect’s opportunities to be followed, recruited and offered.
While working on this blog, I reached out to collegiate softball coaches from across the country. At every level, from Division 1 to Junior College, here is what they had to say.
1. POOR BODY LANGUAGE
The inability to show good body language on the diamond when things are not going well is the best way to catch the eye of a college softball coach – for the WRONG reasons. One coach said she doesn’t like “front runners” or players that are only good when things are going their way. Another college coach, whose teams have been in the NCAA softball tournament, said “Nonverbal communication speaks about character, ”Poor body language is a red flag for me and most coaches.”
2. DISRESPECTFUL ATTITUDES
Disrespect can show up in a few ways…
Players that never say thank you
Players that are never happy for their teammates’ and their individual successes
Players who are disrespectful to parents
Players that look in another direction while getting instructions from their coach
Players that argue with an umpire
Regardless of how manifested, when a young athlete shows even the slightest degree of disrespect, they are a “red flag” with coaches. “Red lined”, “finished” and “take a hike” are just a few comments from coaches regarding these types of athletes. Pick one or any number of other rude and disrespectful acts and you can certainly bet you are history with those coaches.
Toss a bat, throw a glove, argue with a teammate, ignore a coach’s instructions or yell at an umpire, and you will be crossed off the list. Coaches see bad tempers as long-term fixes, and they do not have the time to be psychologists for the uncontrollable head case.
4. POOR BEHAVIOR ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media has really changed the landscape in college recruiting, especially in the last five years. An athlete’s ability to make the right decisions on their personal social media platforms is key if their desire is to play in college. One college coach said they communicate to their kids how important their social media feeds are by saying, “Don’t put anything on social media that you would not want your grandma to see.” This has really helped filter out high character players and helped coaches learn where a player’s priorities lie. Excessive retweets and posts all about themselves are a turn off to most coaches, as well as “Likes” and “Favorites” regarding inappropriate pictures and comments.
5. INABILITY TO HAVE A CONVERSATION
College Coaches want to be able to hold a conversation with you both by text and over the telephone. Unresponsive texts and phone calls leaves a college coach very concerned and left to wonder how important their institution and they are too you. One-word answers leave an impression that you don’t care or may struggle to effectively communicate to teammates, coaches and professors in college.
6. THE “ME” GIRLS
These are players that put themselves over the team. College coaches said they receive texts that say things like , “My team lost today but I went 3-4 today” or “We made three errors that cost us the game, but I made all my plays.” This simple and harmless looking text will not give a good impression to a potential college coach. Softball is a team sport and it takes everyone to “buy into” the system. Being disengaged on the bench, inattentive in team huddles or comments after a game that put blame on others are signs the player does not truly care for the team. College coaches desire players that can get along with others and make the most of the situation.
The so-called “game” or “light switch” players are of NO use to college coaches. There are way too many other issues college coaches already have to deal with than to add a lazy player to their list. If you plan to be a college softball player, you have to prove it every time you step onto the diamond. There are too many hard-working softball prospects that are available for coaches. The last thing a college coach wants is to spend a minute considering is if the lazy player is worth the time or effort.
Success in college has everything to do with teamwork. A selfish athlete will stand out very differently than the rest of their teammates. Coaches will want nothing to do with those type of athletes. Be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
ARE YOU A VICTIM OF THESE HABITS?
Have a conversation with your high school or travel ball coach and ask them how they would describe you to college coach… how’s your “attitude” and what type of “effort” do you give. If you don’t agree with those comments, remember there is always some truth in every criticism. There is still time for you to change your habits, attitude and effort.
The time is NOW to focus on becoming the best teammate you can be. Be “teammate” focused rather than “me” focused. College coaches will demand that you be a great teammate first, before anything else. You cannot be a “problem” in the locker-room because it will eventually carry over to the diamond.
Drop the old and bad habits. Time for you to develop and build new ones that will allow you to stick out in a good and positive way to your teammates, coaches and the college coaches. Remember, you are contagious… The energy you put into yourself, your team and the culture determine the quality of it. Your behavior drives your habits and your habits create your future.
You control You. You can inspire others each and every day with your habits, attitude and effort. When you do this, you will not only make yourself better, but you will also make everyone around you better – That’s the individual that every college coach wants to have in their program. Those are the type of players that contribute greatly to the success of any softball program.