By Baseball Recruiting Coach, Andy Drake
Throughout the recruiting process, potential recruits will have many opportunities to communicate with college coaches. Whether it is through email, phone calls, text messages, or face-to-face meetings, each time you communicate with a coach, you positively or negatively influence that coach’s perception of your character and level of interest in their program. Believe it or not, coaches are looking for more than just talented baseball players. They are looking for players who will buy in to the program, and the words you use carry just as much weight as your talent on the field. I have put together some tips to help with those communications below:
Avoid: Overselling your abilities
There is never a reason for you to oversell your abilities. Don’t talk about things you can’t prove. An example would be: even though you only throw 75 MPH, you get ground balls and have better numbers than the kids throwing 85 in your league. Even if there is some truth to that college coaches know what they are looking for. They know how to evaluate players and don’t need you to tell them things that either they already know or that might be counter to what they actually think about you.
Instead: Keep coaches updated on your achievements during the spring and summer. Show them things you can measure like velocity and Sixty times. Let the coach know which tournaments, camps, and showcases you will be attending so they can evaluate you.
Avoid: Bad-mouthing your high school coaches
When I had kids on a visit, I would ask them about their high school coach. It wasn’t because I wanted to know about their coach as much as I wanted to hear how the student-athlete and his parents talked about the coach. If they were overly negative, I began to wonder if they would throw me under the bus if they played in my program. The last thing I want is a player who questions every decision I make and doesn’t look in the mirror when things are not going his way. Don’t give the coach the impression that you are an excuse-maker.
Instead: Trust that college coaches know most high school coaches don’t have a lot of experience and are not always knowledgeable about the game. There is always some level of politics involved in high school athletics. As a former college coach, the more I would hear about these things from a parent or a recruit, the more I would think less about how the kid was not getting a fair shot and more about how they were making excuses.
Avoid: Comparing yourself to others
College coaches are confident in their ability to evaluate players and recruits. You don’t want the college coach to have the impression that you think you are a better evaluator of talent than he is. To give you a real-life example, I once recruited two players from the same high school team. The catcher was someone we really liked, earned great grades, and committed early to our school. The starting shortstop on the team was also interested. We even had him on a visit, but he was not our top shortstop recruit. One day, we received an email from him telling us that the starting catcher was only batting .300 and batting eighth while he was the lead-off hitter on the team and leading the team in hitting categories. He left the impression that we were making a mistake offering the catcher a spot and not him. While he thought he was selling himself, throwing a teammate under the bus to make him look better was not a good thing. We stopped recruiting the shortstop immediately.
Instead: Coaches want confident players but also humble players. They recruit student-athletes and offer scholarships to kids because of where they fit into their program. Let your abilities speak for themselves.
Avoid: Talking about how coachable you are
Finally, do not spend time telling a coach that you are coachable. This is something that words can’t express. Believe me, I will call your coaches and references, I will watch you play and watch you practice, I will listen to how you talk to me about your coaches, I will observe your body language, and I will get a good idea about how coachable you are long before you show up. If you tell me you are coachable, and all of your references tell me something different, that will tell me that either you aren’t very self-aware or you are telling me that you are better than you really are.
Instead: Let your actions speak for you. Being coachable is something that you are and that you do.
When communicating with college coaches we talk a lot about what to say and what to ask, but we don’t always focus on what not to say. Hopefully you’ve avoided giving these sorts of impressions in your communication with college coaches.
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