Summer’s been the busiest time for softball tournaments and showcases across the country.
As the tournament and showcase season continues on, head recruiting coach Joyce Wellhoefer and other NCSA Athletic Recruiting experts field many questions regarding softball do’s and don’ts while student-athletes are out at events. But the number one question softball families ask Joyce year-round is: “Can I talk to college coaches at softball tournaments and showcases?”
Before Joyce gets more specific with the NCAA, NAIA and junior college guidelines for talking to coaches at softball tournaments, here are a couple of rules about the process overall, along with advice when it comes to speaking with a coach at a camp. Make sure you and your family are aware of these rules and regulations prior to heading to a tournament.
When NCAA coaches can contact softball recruits
- A college coach cannot call a prospect, or return a call, until July 1 after the athlete’s Junior Year in high school. Starting July 1, coaches can call once a week.
- In terms of a face-to-face meeting, a college coach can contact an athlete or her parent’s off-campus (meaning off the college coaches campus) no more than 3 times after July 1. College coaches cannot talk to a player until they are released by their coach from the tournament.
What this means: You can call a DI coach any time but they cannot call you until July 1 between your junior and senior year. In addition, a coach is not being rude when they do not speak with you. There are NCAA rules governing how often they can do it, and they have to be strategic. Do not feel offended or get anxious if they do not speak with you. (And they aren’t even allowed to speak with you during the tournament, anyway!)
- Similar rules to DI, but can start contacting recruits on June 15 after their Junior Year (instead of July 1).
- Other than that, the rules are basically the same as DI.
- There is no limit to the number of calls or when they can be made.
- The issue is most DIII schools have high admission requirements, so most DIII coaches wait until after junior year grades come out to talk to prospects so they can see if they have the grades to make it at their college.
- In terms of the in person, off campus contacts – a DIII coach can have contact with a prospect at any time after their junior year.
NAIA and JC:
- Can contact a prospect as often as they wish with no time restrictions.
Coach Joyce’s advice for parents regarding coaches at softball tournaments
Events like the Colorado Sparkler are big weeks. Coaches from DI schools will wait around for a prospect to get knocked out of a tournament and either talk to them after that game, or schedule to meet with them at their hotel. Remember, they must wait until your daughter’s club coach releases her after the final game (meaning finishes speaking with her team after their last game).
I’m not exaggerating that the question I hear most often is, “Should I go up to coaches at softball tournaments?”
Keep in mind, as outlined above, at the DI and DII level there are restrictions to the number of face-to-face meetings coaches can have off their campus with a prospect and their parents. So the answer is no, you should not go up to a DI or DII coach during a tournament. If the coach has interest in your daughter, then they will come to you.
What can you do then? Call coaches and email them to gauge their interest. The later you are in the recruiting process, (meaning the closer to the player’s senior year), then the more aggressive you should be. There is nothing wrong with a parent calling a coach who has shown interest in a player and asking the coach where they stand. In my opinion, it is hard for the player to do this – they are intimidated and do not have the savvy to really understand if the coach has interest or is just being nice to them.
If your daughter is interested in attending an NAIA or junior college school, then by all means, talk to the coach. Similarly, if they have interest in a DIII program and they have the grades – talk to the coach. These coaches will appreciate knowing that the player has interest in attending their institution.
Remember, Division I coaches often have a long list of players on July 1 after the junior year and start whittling that list down. They may get a commitment from a player or just go in another direction. If you stop hearing from a coach, there is a pretty good chance they have moved on in one way or another, but if you have any doubts – call the coach and ask. It is better to know than to always wonder.
Softball scouts and recruiting coaches like Joyce are here to help you navigate the college recruiting process. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.