My Experience With the Recruiting Process- By: Gunnar Thompson, NASM-CPT, PES, CPPS
I wanted to start a series of articles that depict my experience with the recruiting process (primarily the collegiate recruiting process). I have talked with many parents and young athletes who are unfamiliar with how the system works. I sure did not know how the process worked until after the fact. Therefore, I want to use my experience and my take-away that I hope will help others through this difficult but necessary process. This post will be focused on how to get recruiters’ attention.
The first and most important thing is to know your numbers, attributes, and differentiators. If you are a pitcher, it is absolutely critical to know your velocity, percentage of strikes, percentage of strikes with the off-speed, and what is your best pitch. As a hitter, this may mean what type of hitter you are (such as power vs average), what type of pitches you hit best, and whether defense and speed are part of your game. The key is that when someone comes up to you and asks what makes you different than the thousands of other athletes you need to be able to give them an attribute that makes them remember you. I strongly believe in what coach Ron Wolforth preaches about showcases. He states that showcases might be great if you are ahead of your peer group or if you would like see how you can handle the pressure-filled atmosphere. But without knowing your numbers, how are you going to know if you are ahead of your peer group? You have to be your own analyst. It is not being arrogant, it is being prepared.
The second thing I would like to talk about is “Travel Ball”. The trend today is to play Select or Travel ball in the summer and fall in an attempt to get recognized by scouts. But there are plenty of doctors and coaches criticizing this approach as increasing the chance of injury. So what should you believe? Here is my experience. I played for a 1A high school in Texas home to roughly 200 people in the whole school. Many people think that with a school that small there won’t be any athletes that are all that good, but I don’t look at that way. In my perspective though, it is just less likely that there will be a whole team of elite players. At least this was my experience. Each team in my district had one or two players that were really good. The rest of the team was either average or below average. This meant I was not facing the best competition, so I joined a select team called the “Texas Prospects”. I will tell you that this was the best decision my parents and I ever made. I fully believe that without playing for this team, I would have never received a full scholarship to play collegiate ball. Does this mean you should join a select team? Maybe not. If you need to work on developing certain aspects of your game then you should probably look at training more than playing. But if you are not facing the highest competition in the regular season, and your “stuff” is ahead of your peers, then you should look for a solid travel team to play with (but not one that is just a “pay to play”). The “Texas Prospects” gave me an opportunity to play against the best competition, and they were not quick to pull me when I faced adversity or didn’t have my best stuff. I gave up more hits, homeruns, and runs in one season with the Texas Prospects than my whole high school career combined, but I learned so much from the experience. You must determine your “NEEDS” before deciding whether or not to join a select team.
Last, you need a coach that will do everything in his power to get you noticed. Every coach knows someone at the next level, but the question is whether he is willing to reach out to those contacts on your behalf? I know that without Coach Ron Wolforth and Coach Jeff Casey, I would not have gotten the chance to play college ball. There is something to be said for someone willing to put their reputation on the line for a 17-18 year old athlete. I strongly believe you must have that high school coach, select team coach, or pitching instructor that is willing to do this on your behalf. They can open so many doors and provide guidance that you cannot obtain anywhere else. I encourage you to talk to your high school coach about your desire to play at the next level. More than likely he will be willing to do anything he can to help. If not, seek the coach that is.
So, my advice to all of you who want to be recruited to the next level is to know exactly what you bring to the table and think strategically about where you are showcasing your attributes and against what competition. And finally, you need to identify who your “guy” will be that will promote you and fight for you to make it to the next level. Critically thinking about these factors will significantly increase your odds of making it to the next level.
In my next installment, I will discuss the things that I learned when visiting colleges I was considering, and the questions I wished I would have asked then to gain a better understanding of where my development would take me in the future if I chose to go there.
Be Unique and #BeELITE