Here are nine things that you can do that will improve your chances of playing college baseball. These aren’t about improving specific baseball skills, although that may happen. It’s about giving you the edge over another player who has the exact same stats and ability ratings as you do. In other words, these suggestions aren’t going to make a D2 player into a D1 player. It is about making it as easy as possible for a college coach to recruit you from the hundreds of other players that he has to choose from.
Basically, these are things that other players aren’t willing to do or wait too long to do. They will help you understand and navigate the college recruiting process. They give you something to talk to coaches about that show your individual initiative and discipline when it comes to baseball. Check around with other players and see how many are actually doing any of the following.
ONE: Learn the Rules
Download and read the NCAA student guide to athletic recruiting NOW if you haven’t already. Understanding the recruiting rules will help keep you from getting frustrated when you don’t hear back from a coach because you know it isn’t allowed by the rules. It will also protect you from jeopardizing your eligibility from coaches that are willing to bend the rules. “I didn’t know” isn’t an acceptable excuse.
- NCAA Eligibility Center
- NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete (PDF)
- NAIA Eligibility Center
- NAIA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete (PDF)
TWO: Take the Tests Sooner
Take the SAT or ACT by the fall of your junior year. Your eligibility for NCAA D1 and D2 programs is based on a combination of your GPA and college test scores. Coaches will not be serious about recruiting you until they are sure you are recruitable. How does this help improve your chances of playing college baseball? The sooner you can show them that you have to scores and grades to be eligible and get into their institution, the sooner you can move to their priority list.
You need to take the test no later than the fall of your junior year so that it won’t interfere with your baseball season. The last test date for the academic year will be the beginning of June. If you don’t do well on the test, you will have to wait until September to retake the exam. This is not a good situation to be in for a team that actually gives out athletic scholarships.
This is also important for academically competitive colleges that don’t give out athletic scholarships such as the Ivy League and D3 schools. Many of these coaches want their priority recruits to do the early decision (ED) admission process which means having your application done in November. Again, the coach will want to know that you have the test scores to make ED possible. (Once you know your test scores, you can target possible schools with the DIY College Rankings Baseball Spreadsheet.)
Prepare for the Tests for Free
THREE: Understand College Finances
Calculate your EFC. This means that you will have to know what EFC is-Expected Family Contribution. Use the College Board’s EFC calculator since it will also include the institutional methodology. The EFC is the basis of your financial aid and determines how much you will actually have to pay for college. And remember, most baseball players are not playing on an athletic scholarship. Knowing your EFC will improve your chances of playing college baseball because you can target colleges that you know you can afford. All colleges will have a net price calculator available on their website. Find them and use them for any colleges you are interested in.
FOUR: Develop Self Discipline
Hit off the tee every day. Baseball is about practice. It’s about repeating something 100 times so that every time you do it on the field, you will do it correctly. There are certainly other position specific drills that you could do every day to improve your abilities. However, there is a lot of truth in the saying, “if you can hit, you can play.”
What do you get out of it besides the potential improvement in hitting? First, you will have to understand your swing and what it takes to do it right and how to know if you are doing it wrong. Hitting off the tee every day the wrong way won’t help anything.
It also shows dedication and discipline. A coach wants to know that a player will follow the off-season workout schedules without someone checking up on him.
And no, I’m providing any web links for batting tee drills. There are so many out there and everyone has their own opinion of what’s best that it makes more sense for you to find the drills that work for you.
5-9 in Part 2, next week