Thursday, September 27, 2007

Welcome to Rounding Third.


If you are reading this blog and have kids that play baseball or girls fast-pitch softball....and...they are in high school...and you think they are pretty good... come-on...I bet you are wondering...Are they college material???

Your child could the one rounding third heading for the next level….College.

So...how do you get your son or daughter there? First things first. Don't get carried away...As much as you want them to play...as proud as you are of their abilities...as much as you think you know about the game... YOU can't get them to the next level…

BUT, you can help and provide them with the tools. Bottom line... it’s all in their hands. Rounding Third experts will help you with the tools part, but your sons and daughters have to want it on their own.

Over the course of the year, we will discuss the real time, step by step, age specific processes necessary to help get your son or daughter the exposure to college scouts and if they are good enough, pro scouts as well. While this blog is primarily targeted towards Sophomores and Juniors in high school, I must reiterate that players must be dedicated to sports at an early age. They must be pre-conditioned to be conditioned athletes.

Next level baseball and softball is often an eye opener for parents and is a great way to put your young players skills into perspective… So, if there are any parents of Junior High students reading this, read on. But, realize that sports has to be their dream, their passion, their dedication. Parents can guide, and even push a little, but don’t push too hard, or your child WILL pull away.

We will start off our blog with a question and answer format. Our first question is probably the most oft asked question that every parent of an underclassman has in any part of the country. So read, learn, respond and critique. Share your thoughts and experiences too.

September 28, 2007

Question:
My son is a sophomore in high school and to date has only played JV baseball as a freshman. His high school coach said he has a chance to play varsity this coming spring. Is it too early to market my son to colleges, even though he hasn’t played one inning of varsity yet? And how do we do it? We are also concerned that if the high school coach finds out, he may think of this as too presumptuous of us to target colleges before he plays varsity.

Rounding Thirds Answer:
First, I am going to answer the issue of the high school coach…You and your son need to respect wishes of the high school coach first…That said, the coach needs to understand today’s recruiting environment as well, because you also need to look after the best interests of your son. For instance, your son’s biology professor wouldn’t be mad if he landed a summer internship at a major bio-tech firm or took college level classes at the local JC to enhance his knowledge of the subject, prior to him graduating his class. Likewise, your son’s coach should be supporting his efforts to explore his chances to play in college prior to his promotion to the varsity. He should be ecstatic that one of his players has such lofty goals. If the coach inquires about your son’s extracurricular baseball activities, your son should sit down with the coach and explain his goals and the plan he has to get there. Many High School coaches just are not in tune with the college processes that have evolved over the past few years.

College baseball today is a growing revenue producer and sport manufactures like Easton, DiMarini, Rawlings, Adidas and Nike are pouring millions into the sport. ESPN, ESPNU and Fox are televising the large and mid major conference match-ups with increasing regularity. Recently, Nike announced it is funding the University of Oregon’s entry into the PAC 10 and was partially responsible for the hiring of and the $400,000 salary of new head coach George Horton, former head coach of Cal State Fullerton. Nearly $100,000 will be set aside for his new assistant. Until recently, many head coaches didn’t make $100,000, let alone their assistants. As a result, colleges are under increased pressure to make sure they get the top recruits and this has pushed the recruiting timetable up quite considerably.

Many of the top rated players are sent letters during and towards the end of their sophomore year and verbally commit by the end of their junior year. In California, Texas and Florida, the top three baseball hot spots, there are many nationally ranked players committing as early as their sophomore year. Your coach should be on top of this process.

But first, make sure your son has a lofty work ethic as well. That’s the first thing a college coach will look for when scouting a potential player. Physical tools are a head start, but hustle and enthusiasm for the game will make them really notice. Now as far as marketing your son, there are several steps you need to take in order for colleges to recognize that they have a potential recruit. I always started the marketing process via mailers and e-mails. These mailers usually went to the head coach first and is a great way put your son on college recruiters databases.

But, the best way to get seen is to be seen. There are several underclass showcases available in many parts of the country in the fall. Organizations such as Perfect Game, Team One and Baseball Factory offer the more traditional showcases that are attended by local and regional scouts. The fall of his or her sophomore year is also a good time to attend a local college skills camp, just to get the flavor of how a college coach runs his practices and team. A player can learn a lot from going to a weekend or Saturday camp. If a player performs well in the fall, he or she will usually get an invitation to attend their week long overnight camps the following summer. When picking college camps, start with your player’s least desirable college first, so that he/she can learn and feel comfortable with the routine. In fact, I suggest that a player attend a smaller college camp prior to attending a showcase for the same reason. Both are run in a similar fashion, except there will be more scouts at a showcase so, depending on the self esteem and maturity of your young player, it may be better to start off at a smaller camp to work the bugs (and nervousness) out first.

Starting this process in the fall of their sophomore year will also give you an idea of where your kid stacks up against the other players. Let’s face it, we are all somewhat biased when it comes to our kids sports ability…and there’s nothing wrong with being proud of them…but we also must be realistic and that’s how all parents should position showcases and camps. But, don’t be disappointed. If your kid had a bad day or was outwardly deficient in some of the skill drills, use it as a benchmark on what to improve on. I’ve seen some baseball players at some of our early showcases run 7.8 second 60’s one showcase and the next showcase they were running a 6.9. That player worked on his weaknesses and turned it into a strength in just a matter of a few months. Now, not everyone can turn it around that quickly, but it can be done if the player has the desire. Also, don’t take any criticism personally. The scouts and evaluators of the reputable showcases are going to be brutally honest in many cases. A parent may think his kid is a great hitter, but a scout may think he needs to stay inside the ball more. Listen, learn and make the adjustment. Your kid may be able to hit a JV fastball, but his swing may not project well at the collegiate level.

That’s all for this post. I have probably covered too much for the first entry…but believe me, there so much more to discuss…Till next time…

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