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Navigating New Recruiting Rules

Navigating New Recruiting Rules: A Recipe for Being Noticed.
All recruiting communications between Division I softball coaches and Prospective Student Athletes and their families are impermissible prior to September 1 of the Junior Year.
The rule passed last spring and continues to reverberate throughout the softball community. Spend a day at a ballfield and you’ll hear people falling on both sides of the argument with most failing to completely grasp the full implications of the ruling.
Most people agree that Early Softball Recruiting was starting to get out of hand. Many Prospective Student Athletes and their families felt the process was unfair for a variety of reasons:
  • Too much pressure at an early age.

  • A feeling of being overlooked.

  • Too many schools having recruiting needs filled for several recruiting cycles in advance.

  • An expectation to participate in national showcases every week of the summer.

In conversations with Division-I coaches, before and since the ruling, most were in favor of doing something to curtail the wild west of early recruiting, endless showcases, and an impossible recruiting calendar. Their complaints and concerns mirrored those of PSA’s and their families.
So, what does it mean for current Prospective Student Athletes?
What is the Recipe for Being Noticed in this new environment?
What should you be doing to make sure you don’t miss the boat?
#1 – This rule means that the power in recruiting has shifted back to College Coaches.
Just last week I was on the phone in conversation with a DI coach about an unrelated subject when he said, “I’m just glad I don’t have to play this game going to all these showcase tournaments.”
This particular coach was kind enough to share his process:
1. Collect Names from Observation of Athletes that fill Needs
2. Put them on a board to follow.
3. Have a longer evaluation period (Leading to a better fit for both parties).
4. Call them on September 1 of their Junior Year – DIRECTLY – No Go-Betweens.
5. Get them on campus and make offers.
He said, some people are going to keep selling showcases to kids, but camps are where they should be spending their time. It’s at camps (On-Camps and Off), where coaches can communicate with athletes. Under the new rules – camps are where it’s at.

Camps are the #1 way to Be Noticed – Start a Relationship with a Coach – LEARN about Coaches, Programs, Processes, and Skills. There is nothing as valuable if you want to be a better player, more-educated about the process, and have a desire to connect with college coaches.

*GET ON THEIR BOARDS*

His argument to me reinforced what I have known to be the truth for a long time. Showcases are not the best way to be noticed, grow your skills, or talk to coaches. That answer is clear and obvious. As an individual or as a team – go to camps to do what’s best for you and your group.
It’s IMPORTANT to know that Coaches are not starting their recruiting process (evaluating) on September 1, of a PSA’s Junior Year – That’s the date they start communicating.

Coaches are ALWAYS Recruiting.

Here’s a Basic Recipe:
1. Do Your Work in the Classroom
2. Grow Your Skills
3. Showcase Those Skills in Various Ways
4. Create Video – Send Video
5. Email Coaches – Communicate Your Interest (Even when it’s a One-Sided Conversation)
6. Cast a Wide Net – Look at numerous schools over various levels.
7. GO TO CAMPS – Especially reputable ones where ten or more programs are represented.
8. Narrow Interests – Get on Campus to a Camp
9. Send Schedules for where you’ll be playing.
10. Never Stop – Never Get Discouraged.
Timeline

12U – Grow Your Skills

· Pour Your Attention into being a good student.
· Stay focused on being a good player. Grow your skills through individual lessons, practices, and skill-building camps.
· Nobody should be thinking about college recruiting at this age. Nobody. If you’re hearing something different – start listening to someone who knows better.

14U – Develop Your Goals

· Pour Your Attention into being a good student.
· Continue to Grow Skills
· Have a Conversation – talk about life goals. What do you want to be in life? Can softball help achieve that? Do you want softball to help?
· Collect Information – learn about different schools, what they offer and start to initiate an idea as to how that might fit into your future. Again, how it “MIGHT FIT”.
· Got to more camps.
· Play on a competitive team.

16U Put Your Skills on Display

· Pour Your Attention into being a good student.
· Continue to Grow Skills
· Narrow Your Focus on Life Goals
· Find College Matches
· Pursue Those Matches
· Attend College Prospect Camps (On and Off Campus)
· Play on a Competitive Team
· Get in front of College Coaches
· Send Updated Video
· Send Emails
· Be 100% Active in Putting the Best Version of Yourself Forward

18U You Aren’t Too Late

· Pour Your Attention into being a good student.
· Continue to Grow Skills
· Find Programs that still have Needs
· Expand Your Options
· If you have no leads – work with Proxies to help connect you.
· Be willing to attend camps (on and off-campus)
· Continue to play with a Competitive Team
· Send Updated Videos
· Send Emails
· Be 100% Active in Pursuing Coaches
Camps are the #1 way for PSA’s to achieve goals – whether that’s to be a better player or to use them as an avenue to connect with college coaches. I would encourage you to spend less money and less time chasing unicorns and make better decisions about your softball future!
To be clear, I am not saying that you should never play in a showcase. There are certainly some out there that have earned the reputation of being valuable and a necessary part of the process. However, it would be unwise trying to attend all of the showcases that have popped up in the past few years who promise coaches – they never deliver – and make false statements about the need to attend. There’s a place for showcases – but they aren’t THE PLACE where most PSA’s and teams will achieve their goals. A showcase cannot do for you what a quality on or off-campus camp can and will do for you.

The new rules have shifted the environment and given power in recruiting back to college coaches and added value to camps. PSA’s and their families are best served by recognizing this and formulate their plans accordingly.

Best of luck in all your pursuits and please let me know if I can be of any assistance!
All the best, Jerrad
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