Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Freshman Recruiting/Training Timeline...Time To Get Ready!

Do college scouts and recruiting organizations really look at freshman? Well, have you ever gone in a department store and have a salesperson ask you. "May I help you?", and your reply is , "No thanks, I'm just looking." These early looks at 9th and in some cases 8th graders are similar to this analogy. The recruiting timeline is getting earlier and earlier. Depending on your son's projectable talent and abilities, getting them in a recruiting database early on may help your son get on the lists of the invitation only showcases. This is also a time to get used to the camps. Find out what weaknesses your son needs to work on and what strengths he needs to hone. Bottom line, he still needs to play and play well to be on the radar of most high profile organizations like PG and Team One, so be realistic...talent and attitude is still the gauge used.

The following timeline details how and when to prepare your son for the baseball recruiting opportunities that he has in front of him. Parents…learn from our mistakes. This outline is the result of hundreds of interviews and correspondence from parents, recruiters and scouts.

First, we must reiterate that as much as we love baseball, your player is going nowhere if he doesn't have the grades. Forget any and all perceptions that "if your son is good, it won’t matter what their grades are"That’s totally false!!! For instance, in California, most Pac 10, Big West and WCC schools want a 3.2 GPA or better and a 1400 SAT score. The new APR standards that the NCAA have imposed has changed a lot…for the better in our opinion. Let’s face it…They are STUDENT Athletes! Start them off on the right frame of mind as freshman. The habits they learn early, they will carry with them the rest of their lives.

9Th Grade

September-October· You (the student) are in a new environment and your first few months are for adjusting to your new school and new friends.
· If baseball is your passion, then freshman year is the ideal time to start getting serious.
· Take advantage of the daily access to school facilities and long toss with friends after school, hit in the cage, or field ground balls.
· Utilize the track facilities, football bleachers etc, and get into leg shape and build endurance
· Play on a travel fall ball team. If you are a pitcher, limit your innings to 3 per week.

November· Depending on where you live, you may have to find a new venue to throw, field and hit. Southern states, continue your fall Sept-Oct. program. Northern states, move your program indoors or locate a batting cage that will allow you to work out in the tunnels for a discount.
· Most batting facilities have hitting and pitching instructors. This is a good time to hone your skills with a professional.
· Seek out a winter college camp or underclass showcase. For many of you, this will be your first camp or showcase, so I hope the resources we have on Rounding Third, will help steer you in the right direction. There are many freshman outdoor showcases and camps in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. However, there are also many indoor college camps at many schools in the larger conferences, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, etc. Go on the web site of that particular school close to you and click camps on their athletic web site. See the link to the right on Division 1, 2 and 3 college web sites.

December· Step your program up the first two weeks of the month. Work harder than you ever have…Then rest the last two weeks. Have fun…It is Christmas by the way…
· How are your grades????

January· Step your training program back up at the level you were working on in the first two weeks of December and get ready for spring baseball try-outs. In the south, try-outs will start in mid to late January. In the Northern states, your coach will start working you out indoors. Get ready for a lot of running, weight training and stretching. Aren't you glad you were already in shape from a fall work-out program?

February- June
· This is the High School Season and you will thank us for the training program we outlined for you in September-January. Daily practice, fielding drills, outfield drills, scrimmages etc., can be hard on your arm. The long toss work-outs you did in fall (you did do them right?), pay big dividends in spring.
· Work hard and smart in try-outs. Coaches like hustle, and players that finish first in drills. If you stuck with the program we have outlined, this will not be a problem for you.

May - July/August· Take a week or two off after your high school season ends and your summer season begins. Rest your arm , but run and stay in shape.
· After the rest, find a travel team try-out in your area and pick the most competitive team with an aggressive tournament or league schedule. Playing with the best and against the best will make you better. Start researching summer camps and showcases via college web sites (At right under Useful Sites), and programs like Perfect Game. (also at right)

June - August
· Sign up and go to those camps and showcases I mentioned. Read my previous posts. If you want to get seen, you must be present at these camps and various high profile tournaments. Recruiters will not come to you. You must go to them.
· If you want my opinion on what college camps and what showcases are worth going to, comment on this post and I will reply.

More posts on Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Am Getting Letters From College Baseball Coaches....Now What?

If you attended the recent WWBA tourney in East Cobb or another Perfect Game Showcase, then you may have already received that letter that reads...

"We saw you play at a recent showcase and have recognized you as one of the top players in your area"

Yes, this is sort of a standard letter that is sent out to just about every participant at a showcase. Part of the agreement of these showcases is the release of the database of the teams, players and coaches e-mails and home addresses. However, that doesn't mean that you ignore it. All of these coaches and organizers know that not every one is a talented prospect. However, not even every talented prospect can be a prospect if he doesn't respond to the questionnaires and letters that he receives from the college coach that sent the letter.

Bottom line, respond to every letter...Fill out every questionnaire...Get on their database...Because it will show that you are an interested athlete.

Why? thing your son has that most baseball players that don't go to showcases and camps have is the desire to put their talent on display in front of the scouts. That says volumes about your sons character and desire for the game. That will make him a player to watch in future events. Now, it doesn't mean that they will recruit him. It just means that they will further evaluate him and see if the talent matches up to the desire and attitude. But, it's a start and a good position to be in.

Before we went to our first major camp (read my first post...we did some minor camps to get the kinks out first), my son and I sent out letters and e-mails to all of the colleges he thought he may want to go to school and play for and told them that he was attending the showcase. The letter and profile that we sent was very detailed. Below is a sample of the type of information you must put in a profile sheet. Include a good, "facing the camera" shot of your son...preferably torso up, so they can see his body type and frame.
<Travel Team Name
Positions: OF
Uniform#: #23
Coach: All Coaches Named Here

Personal Information
Phone: 888-888-8888
Address: 888 Baseball Rd, Baseball City CA 88888
Date of Birth: 01/01/1991 Age: 16
Height: 6'4" Weight: 190
High School: My High School Class of 2012
League: AAAA
Phone / Web 888-999-0000
HS Coach: Mr Coach (888) 777-8888
Positions: OF
Bats: R Throws:R
GPA: 3.8

Athletic Awards: Started Varsity as Freshman, All League 2nd team, County Times 2nd Team

Academic Awards: Frosh Deans List Honors Algebra Academic Award

Clubs/Activities: Freshman Class Treasurer

Hitting Coach: Coach Smith

Travel Baseball Background: 10U 7th Place USSSA Nationals, 11U 5th Place USSSA Nationals, 12U 2nd Place Cooperstown TOC, 13U USSSA 3rd Place Nationals, 14U National Champions USSSA, 15U National Champions Elite 16

Top Colleges Interested In: State U, State Tech, State A&M


As you can see from the profile info above, we included the following:

TRAVEL TEAM...This is important because the scouts and recruiters want to know how serious the players are about baseball and the way they challenge themselves against better competition. include your uniform number so they can spot you right away...this will vary...some showcases have pre-determined numbers that are given out...others will have the team just wear their travel ball uniforms. Also include your coaches phone number and e-mail so they can contact them with a profile of your abilities.

HIGH SCHOOL...High schools teams get the press, so if your player is on a high school team that gets a lot of local press, the scouts will know to look for you there. Also include the name, phone number and e-mail address of your high school coach. Depending on the league or the coaches reputation, they will contact that coach as well for an evaluation.

ACADEMICS...College baseball has always put more of an emphasis on grades than other sports...If a players grade point is above a 3.2, he will be recruited heavier than a student with a 2.8 or below...all things equal.

TRAVEL TEAM SUCCESS...While it doesn't matter what kind of success you had as a 10 year old, the fact that a player has had the discipline and desire to play those 100+ games and travel around the country for years, will help the coaches understand that you can handle the rigors of collegiate ball better than most.

LIST ALL COLLEGES YOU ARE INTERESTED IN...Don't be shy here..You will not make the coaches mad if their school is one of 10 listed. In fact, it shows that you have confidence in your ability to play there.

When we went through this process, we bought big 3" binders with the names of every college we sent letters and e-mails to and received letters from and organized the names on tabbed separators. We also wrote down notes of each and every showcase he attended and we did our own analysis of his performance....i.e. hits, plays made...60 yard time...SPARQ score etc.

This is just scratching the surface. There will be more on this subject later.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How To Use The 1% Factor To Achieve Greatness

RT Staff Note: We have been laboring on about the labor it takes to succeed at the next level all last week. Guys, it's very, very hard and time consuming. But, of course it is...It's a valuable life lesson to learn. If it was that easy, then everyone would be an elite athlete. In our 30 second sound bite world of instant this and instant that, the results will never, ever, happen overnight. Overnight success leads to instant failure. Our bodies just can't handle a crash course of instant muscle. Just like our minds can't handle a crash course in information. That's why we go to school for 16 or more years. Think about that for a second...16 or more years to have the priveledge of working in the real world for another 40 years or more. Our physical bodies need that same slow and dedicated routine if we want to play without injury and succeed with confidence. So, how appropriate then to fall back on the word of wisdom from Jon Doyle of Baseball Training Secrets who states that how over time amazing things can happen. Please go to his web site for more great information about training, nutrition, hitting and more.

By Jon Doyle.

In any endeavor, athletic or not, winning is there for the taking by improving your performance by a few percentages points, if that. A fraction of a second is the difference in winning Gold or going home empty handed. In team sports those split second improvements put you in an entirely different category than everyone else. While a huge leap in improvement can seen like a daunting task at first glance, by simply doing a little bit more today than you did yesterday will lead to greatness.

So you always wanted to write a book, but never had the time? What if I told you that if you wrote just two paragraphs each day you would have a book that was just about 200 pages in one years time. Don’t even try to tell me you don’t have the time to write two paragraphs each day.

The same principle applies to baseball strength and conditioning. Adding work and improving your efforts and baseball drills over time will give you the ability to perform feats you never thought possible. This advice is very simple and elementary, yet overlooked by the majority of people in all walks of life.

You must ask yourself what it exactly that you want is. When you have a vivid picture of that, embrace it and make it come to life. And then it is time to go out and take the necessary steps that are needed to reach that goal. It comes down to the question, "How bad to you really want it?"

I ask myself that question every time a negative thought comes in my mind. Sometimes the answer is "Not very much." That just tells me that goal is not that important after all. But when I want something so bad that I can literally taste it, I know it is a true passion and I cannot
be stopped.

These small victories will lead to your large goal, whatever that may be. Start your small improvements today and they will lead to many major improvements, often sooner than anticipated.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Timing Is Now!!!

We had a friend travel with his son (a Senior at the time....since graduated) to see a few schools this past spring and they happened to visit a very small D-1 school that told him that one of their position player recruits had to have major shoulder surgery and in all likelihood, would not be able to play next year. Because this visiting player had a near perfect GPA and SAT score, and also played for a top rated travel program, the coach at this university told him timing was everything and made him an offer. He had almost given up hope that he could play college baseball. That brings up a good subject for today's post. This player took a different approach and visited colleges he wanted to attend. And, if you have the time, this is a great way to get to know a school that you may be unsure of. Just because you haven't heard of a school or aren't that familiar with a school, doesn't mean it's not a good school. This player was surprised by the beauty of the schools he visited. Interestingly, many small D-II, D-III and NAIA colleges look very picturesque...more so than their big D-I counterparts. And believe it or not, school aesthetics are a big part of many decisions to go to a school.

However, most players don't have that luxury or time, but there is a lot you can still do from your home to help you get noticed by colleges that still have needs.

Timing is only everything if a players name is top of mind with that coach at the time of the need. In other words, if a player is a unsigned senior, one letter to your target colleges won't do. You need to step up your creative and supply them with a bit more than what you previously have given them.

For instance, companies advertise to attract consumers to their stores and buy their products. You must do the same. Do you have a video of your skill? If you are a position player, provide an edited video of you fielding your position from various angles. Video yourself at the plate...preferably at a 90 degree angle (facing the batter), then from behind the plate. Time and film your throws to first if you are an infielder and to third from right field if you are an outfielder. Pitchers parents have tons of game videos usually, so edit the best performances. Do a brief intro of your name, grade, height, weight, side you throw and bat, high school, travel team and send it off to one of your target colleges with your complete profile.

But be smart who you send it to. As a senior, letters to Top 50 D-I programs are probably not realistic. Our friend's scenario at the top of this post is the exception. Barring injuries, most top D-I's have completed their recruiting and as we stated yesterday, the colleges with needs are the smaller D-I's, most D-II's, D-III's, NAIA and JUCO's. That should be your target.

If you can't visit these colleges, many have virtual tours on their web sites. Some are quite good and provide 360 degree views of the campus and it's main attractions. Look and see if the targeted school has the educational curriculum that interests you... Go to their baseball site and look at who they play, their record, who they graduated and who they have signed thus far. If everything looks good, send them the packet. It's tedious and time consuming, but so is college life, so this is a great exercise to tackle.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Incoming College Freshman...You'd Better Be in Great Shape!!!

If you are a graduated senior that is headed to play D-I ball, do you engage in the same everyday reps that you had in high school knowing that the next three or four years of your life (school year AND summer) will be dedicated to school and baseball?

Very good question. Here's our answer. Many of you received your letters or e-mails in early June detailing the running, strength and conditioning programs your coaches wanted you to work on. That should have been your first priority.

Have you followed that plan? We know, we know, it's your last summer with the guys and girlfriends before heading off to college. We get that...Mom and Dad get that...but Mr. College Coach doesn't care much. He is giving you a deep discount on a college education and would like for you to come to school in serious shape.

Getting in shape and being in top condition is extremely important. Many of you will look malnourished compared to your future collegiate team mates and the strength and conditioning coaches will be putting you on a fast track to get you to at least 80% of their strength and body mass in a hurry.

If you aren't in great shape by the time school starts, you will be susceptible to injury. The first week of school consists of physicals, paperwork and classes that introduce you into the world of NCAA sports. After that, your college life will be very planned out for you. The second week of school starts with a 6:30AM strength and conditioning wake-up call and 90+ minutes of some of the hardest conditioning you have ever experienced in your lives. That is followed by school and then a 1:30-4:30 practice. After practice you will break for dinner and then, will report to 2-3 hours of mandatory study hall. That gives you about an hour to yourselves before you have to start the whole routine all over again the next day.

So, back to our question. Should you take daily batting practice to keep your swing intact? We understand that you have nothing to prove and have already committed to a college, but for pride and to get used to the insane routine you will have in less than a month in college...get back in the cage and start hitting NOW! Show those underclassmen on your summer team that you deserved that scholarship. Set an example and show them what it takes to succeed. Be a leader and teach them that you have to be a self starter in the summer and that there is no substitute for hard work. So, if your stats are way down from your high school season, there's a reason for that...YOU ARE NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH!!!

Get in shape, get it together and get yourself ready for the months ahead. Don't worry, you won't miss out on anything the rest of August. There's 24 hours in a just need to organize them accordingly.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Hardest Part Of Next Level Baseball

RT Staff Note: We first ran this article three years ago when our son was entering his freshman year. He is now a senior and the journey is almost over. Many families will be experiencing this same set of emotions that we had 3 years ago. ...Enjoy!
RT Staff

What is the hardest thing you have ever personally experienced? Run a marathon? Facilitate a high profile multi-million dollar business acquisition? Prepare your own taxes? Give birth? For some of us, it's the simple things, for others it's world changing events. For my wife and me, it was walking away from our son, getting into our car and going back home while he started his new life as a student athlete on a baseball scholarship.

As part of an innovative program his D-I school offers, he is attending a freshman summer school program designed for freshman recruits for all sports and hundreds of other over achieving braniacs to get a head start on college. For the athletes, it's meant to even out their yearly unit requirements. In this program, there are women's and men's baseball/softball, soccer, tennis, basketball, swimming, water polo track and field, volleyball, and golf freshman athletes.

During the respective athletes season, which in many cases spans over two quarters, (many California schools are on the Quarter system) they can only take 12 credit hours due to the rigorous game preparation demands and the travel that accompanies it. The 7-9 credits that they signed up for this summer is meant to keep them on track for an on-time graduation schedule, provided that they don't get drafted or go pro in their respective sports.

It also acclimates them to the real life rigors of college in a less stressful environment. Only a thousand or so attend this program. The theory is that they will be a bit more prepared, a lot less intimidated and in great shape…(yes, there are strength and conditioning work-outs to attend EVERY DAY) when the onslaught of 23,000+ converge on the campus this fall. As a major research university, I believe the theory has been proven many times over. They are in their tenth year of this program.

For the brainy prodigies attending the program, most of the students we met during the orientation have already met their General Education requirements and were getting a head start on their core classes in their major. They will in all likelihood get their PHD's and will be on their way to becoming the next Bill Gates in the time it will take my son to graduate. He's making friends with them now, because he will probably be working for them in a few years if baseball doesn't pan out.

Now, back to the hard part. The orientation was meant to prepare all of the parents to learn to cope with separation, ease our fears of college life and give us a glimpse of what their schedules and days would look like. And, for the most part, it did help answer a lot of general questions we had. What they don't know however, is the closeness and intimate relationships that many student athletes and their parents have with each other.

I have mentioned this before in an article titled "Senior Tears", that the life of parents of elite athletes is spent on the road, traveling from tournament to tournament, showcase to showcase, combine to combine. Baseball is no different than any other sport I learned. I talked with a couple of a tennis player from Houston, the parents of a couple of highly touted girls basketball players from Sacramento, volleyball parents from Colorado and a two state ranked boys basketball parents from the San Francisco Bay Area. We all shared the same stories of elite camps, travel teams, AAU tourneys, showcases and more. And along the way, we have stayed in places from Motel 6's to luxury resorts. We were our own private little support group, trying to help each other out for that dreaded hour we would all have to say goodbye.

It worked the first two days. There were a lot of laughs, stories and experiences that kept us preoccupied. Up to that point, the hardest thing to cope with was our kid's task of trying to find out what courses to take in the upcoming fall quarter. The summer program doubled as an orientation for fall and in addition to reviewing their coursework and expectations for the summer program, they were there to enroll in fall classes too. All student athletes have to be done with their classes by 1:00 or 2:00, depending on the sport and finding the right match of classes and times that can co-exist with their sports schedules was not an easy task. Here's a typical day of a student athlete…no matter what the sport.

6:30-7:30 Strength and conditioning
7:30-8:00 Breakfast
8:00-1:00 Classes/lunch
1:30-5:30 Practice
6:00 Dinner
6:45-9:45 Study (Mandatory, depending on sport)
9:45-? Their time to make decisions on what is more important…partying or sleep. Our money is on relaxation and sleep with this schedule. There's always the weekend.

By Saturday afternoon, the scheduling was completed and the last orientation meeting had concluded. As we headed off to the dorms to meet up with our son and say goodbye, the sensation of the past 18 years flashed before the eyes of my wife and I almost simultaneously. From diapers to dances, tee ball to Junior Olympics, pre-school to the dorms we were walking to, it all started to feel like a heavy weight on our shoulders as we walked closer and closer to his new residence.

And as we approached the dorms, we passed other parents donning sunglasses, wiping tears and clinging to each other with expressions of sadness and separation anxiety. That didn't make it any easier for my wife and I. We were both about to succumb to an emotional episode ourselves when out of the corner of our eye, we spotted our boy ride around the corner in his used cruiser bike we purchased for him a few days earlier. He had a look of accomplishment on his face and happily exclaimed that he did indeed get the classes that he wanted… his first collegiate success.

As small as this "victory" was in the scheme of the things he will most likely face in his next four years at college, it WAS his first success and my wife and I were happy for him. Right then and there, we knew he would be alright…We strolled together up to his room, took some final pictures, my wife tidied up his bed, desk and dresser, we engaged in some small talk and finally said our goodbyes.

There are a lot of things I could have said at that moment, but the only words that came out were " I'm so proud of you". Maybe the ghosts of parents past were looking over me at that moment, because it was exactly the words he wanted to hear. He didn't say that of course, but after 18 years of long car trips, sharing free and very austere hotel continental breakfasts and the glances he made to me after a home run or spectacular play, my parental instincts knew, that he knew, that I really meant it and he really appreciated it.

The car we entered after our goodbyes was now empty…devoid not just of his school things, but of his funny personality, his sometimes annoying music, dusty cleats, crusty bat bag, smelly socks and body odor from a long tourney or double header. We never thought that we would ever miss stuff like that, but I in particular, miss that most of all. That's what raising a student athlete, a baseball player, who happens to also be a great, caring son is all about. That was the life that we had with our boy…And what a perfect life that was.

Good luck to all of you parents that will be going through the same experience in the weeks to come.

RT Staff