Getting Recruited When You Aren’t a Top Prospect

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A used yellow softball resting on the knob end of an aluminum ba

If your daughter plays tournament softball and she’s at least competitive, there’s a pretty good chance there’s a college team out there that would love to have her come play for them. It may not be one of the division I schools that are at the top of most girl’s list of dream colleges to play for, but there’s still a lot of opportunity to pick up a spot on the roster (and possibly a scholarship) at a school that isn’t considered a perennial softball powerhouse.

People tend to make the assumption that only elite players make it onto a college roster, and that simply isn’t the case. In fact, there are a number of colleges out there who are looking to fill their rosters with talented players, and they’d love to hear from a girl who’s interested in playing for them.

Make Your Voice Heard Early and Often

Unless your daughter is an elite player who’s playing on a top level team and is tearing through the competition, there’s a pretty good chance she could go unnoticed and unrecruited even though there are teams out there who would love to have her play for them. While every school out there is drooling over the top players, there are a number of girls who aren’t quite as talented (or who are every bit as talented, but aren’t playing for the top teams) who don’t make it onto a college coach’s radar and end up not playing college ball even though they’re capable.

How to Get Noticed

In order to get noticed, your daughter is going to have to be willing to repeatedly put herself on a number of recruitment radars. She can do this in a handful of ways, including doing the following things:

E-mail. Look up the e-mail addresses for the coaches and/or recruiters for the teams she’s interested in playing for and contacting the coaches via e-mail.
Phone calls. Call the coaches and/or recruiters and leave a voice message letting them know she’s interested in playing for their team.
School visits. Set up visits to college campuses where she can meet coaches and recruiters. Let the school know you’re coming in advance, as there are some rules regarding visits and when coaches can talk to kids.
Tournaments. Research which coaches are going to be at tournaments she’s attending and contacting them and asking them to come take a look at her.
Contact nearby schools. Research which colleges are close to where her tournaments are and contact the coaches to let them know she’d like them to come watch her play.
Skills video. Create a skills video she can e-mail to prospective coaches that shows her batting and playing her skills positions in the field.

Look at it this way. There are roughly 350,000+ high school softball players and even more tournament ball players who step on a field every year. When you consider there are only around 1,600 college programs (including NCAA Div. I, Div. II and Div. III, NAIA and junior college programs), you begin to see why it’s all-too-easy for coaches to overlook great talent. They tend to send their recruiters to the biggest and best tournaments, and girls playing elsewhere might not ever make it on their radar.

While your daughter might end up not hearing back from the majority of the coaches, there’s a pretty good chance some of them have taken note of her name. Instead of giving up on the teams she doesn’t hear back from, have her continue to periodically reach out to them. They might not show interest the first time she reaches out, but if they keep seeing her name, they might decide she’s worth another look.

Don’t Get Your Heart Set on One Team

While playing for a dream college would be, well, a dream come true, the reality is there are only a handful of spots on that roster. It’s a bad idea to count on making it onto any one team, no matter how talented you think your daughter is.

There are a number of things that could happen, many of which are completely out of your control. The team might not need a player at the position your daughter plays at the time she’s going to graduate, there might be other players the coach feels are a better match for the team, or the coach might see something he or she doesn’t like about the way your daughter carries herself on and/or off the field.

If this happens and your daughter has only reached out to one school, there’s a pretty good chance she won’t be playing college ball.

Instead of putting all of her eggs in one basket, it’s up to your daughter to make sure she gets on college coaches radars, and she needs to get on as many radars as possible. The more teams she contacts, the better positioned she’ll be to secure a spot on a roster somewhere.

When it comes to getting recruited to play college ball, your daughter can either rely on blind luck, hoping she gets seen somewhere, or she can rely on her tenacity, knowing she’s reached out to a number of coaches and has placed herself firmly on at least a few of their radars.

7 Responses

  1. Christina says:

    At what age or grade level to you recommend to start contacting the coaches/recruiters?

    • Jenny says:

      It really depends on what level she’s looking to play at. I’ve heard of girls in middle school sending emails out to coaches, but it isn’t all that common. I would definitely recommend starting during your daughter’s freshman year. She might not hear back from any coaches for a couple years, but at least she’s putting her name in front of them.

  2. Jennifer McDowell says:

    What age should girls start sending the emails and videos? My daughter is a catcher and will be a freshman in high school in the fall.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi…I would recommend starting right away. Division I colleges have recently started looking at girls that are in 7th and 8th grade. It won’t hurt for her to start putting her name out there and let the coaches she’s interested in playing for know she wants to play for them once she graduates.

  3. Hailey says:

    Hi; I’m a 16-year-old outfielder who would love to play softball at a smaller school one day. I’m in my last season of rec ball here in North GA (once you’re 16 you can no longer play in my county). My parents would prefer that I not play travel just because of the time and financial commitment. My mom has the impression that travel teams have a tourney every weekend, but all of them don’t, do they? Anyway, I’m hoping to do a recruiting video this summer. I’ve emailed half a dozen college coaches, but none have responded; do you have any other advice for me? I’m kind of despairing that we’ll be able to find me a new team quickly.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi,

      Keep doing what you’re doing. Closed mouths don’t get fed. If you can’t play travel ball, I’d recommend making your skills video and sending it out to local coaches. You could also get ahold of the coaches who you’re interested in playing for and ask if you can visit their campus. It’s going to be tougher to get recruited if you don’t play college ball, but it isn’t impossible, especially if you’re willing to play for a smaller Div 3 school or community college.

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