You did what this summer?!?!

I was out walking the neighborhood with my daughter recently and ran into one of my high school pitchers, a rising junior, who proceeded to tell me about his summer. He indicated that he just got back from a showcase tournament in New York, and prior to that he was pitching in a tournament in New Mexico. In the world of travel athletics, such statements are so common that most of us fail to evaluate and synthesize the information given to us. 

That said, allow me to repeat this story in my own words: A 16 year old student-athlete, who is a marginal Division III prospect, traveled around the country this summer to play baseball.  

And…..how is this logical? With the exception of the tournament organizers and the airline and hotel industries, who else truly benefited from this experience?  You decide.

College Athletic Recruiting Misconceptions: College Camps, Showcases, and Recruiting Services

As we stated in our last college athletics recruiting post, there are many misconceptions when it comes to college recruiting.  Below are answers to additional recruiting questions. True or False: Showcases are the ONLY thing that student-athletes need to get noticed. False. The chances are slim for student athletes to be discovered at college showcase. College coaches use showcases as a means of evaluating players they already know. In other words, many college coaches attend showcases with a list of players they are interested in evaluating and who the coaches have had prior contact with. If you are not on a coach’s radar prior to the showcase, chances are slim that they will be watching you when it is your time to perform.

While showcases can indeed be an important step in the process, in all reality it is just the tip of the iceberg. Identifying specific schools and being proactive is really essential. Realistically targeting schools that are a good fit, contacting those coaches, making a concise highlight tape, and educating yourselves about the college athletics recruiting process are the most critical steps.

Are college camps worth attending? Similar to showcases, college coaches use their camps to evaluate players they already know. The chances for student athletes to be discovered at a college camp are slim. If the college coach does not know who you are prior to the camp, chances are slim that they will not be seriously evaluating you for their program during the duration of the camp.

College camps can be a valuable recruiting tool for student athletes if they have had prior contact with the college coach.  Attending college camps gives student athletes a great opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a college coaching staff.

If a highly personalized letter accompanies your camp brochure, or you receive a phone call from a particular coach inviting you to their camp, then attending the camp is certainly worth considering. If you are interested in a particular school, and you believe that the coach is indeed actively recruiting you, it is in your best interest to find out if they are either hosting a camp of their own or if they will be in attendance at another college camp.

What if my student-athlete only wants to play DI ball? Division I baseball is extremely competitive.  If the desire to play collegiate baseball is sincere, then the level of competition should not matter. Being realistic is critical to finding the right fit and achieving a better overall athletic experience at the next level. Unfortunately, there are many great high school baseball players who sit the bench at D1 programs when they could have had an opportunity to compete and strengthen their skills at a smaller school. The first step in this process is finding out if your student-athlete wants to play college ball, and if so, determining a realistic level of competition.

Are recruiting services worth the money? Recruiting Services will never hurt you in the process – in fact, it can only help. The essential question about recruiting services is evaluating whether or not the benefits of these services justify the cost. Many of these recruiting services cost thousands of dollars for the creation of a profile and/or video, which they then email to hundreds of coaches nationwide. The overwhelming majority of the schools these services send your information to are probably schools you would never consider attending anyways.

Because there are numerous recruiting services doing the same thing on a daily basis, college coaches are inundated with similar emails from recruiting services who are recommending prospects that the services themselves barely know. In short, many of these emails are considered nothing more than junk mail, and are consequently never opened.

Secondly, any college coach will tell you that they want to hear directly from the student athlete, not mom or dad, and not from an outside source that is being paid to recommend and represent you. Contacting college coaches on your own is a proactive approach to the recruiting process that shows maturity, poise, and responsibility—aspects that college coaches are looking for in all of their potential players.

If you decide to go with a recruiting service, understand that it is still really critical that you do some work on your own as well. At the end of the day, you need to be your own advocate. In addition, be sure that you consistently communicate and follow up with your recruiting service, and hold them accountable for everything they say they will do for you.

College Athletic Recruiting Misconceptions: The Clearinghouse and Scholarships

Many misconceptions about college sports recruiting, scholarships, and the Clearinghouse exist. We want to put these to rest. What is the NCAA Clearinghouse? In order for your student-athlete to play Division I and Division II college athletics, each student-athlete needs to be certified through the NCAA Eligibility Clearinghouse. Division III athletes are not asked to submit their information to the Clearinghouse.

What are Division I, II, III subgroups for college athletics? Each Division is based on respective school size, legitimacy of the athletic teams, and scholarships available. Division I institutions are the biggest schools; they have the most amount of athletic scholarship money. Their athletic programs are the best. Division II are smaller schools but they still offer athletic scholarships. Division II athletic programs are usually a step below Division I. Division III schools are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships, but can give student-athletes academic scholarship money. These are the biggest three subgroups in NCAA athletics.

Is it imperative to register your prospective student-athlete to the NCAA Clearinghouse upon becoming a high school junior? It isn’t necessary for your student-athlete to sign up for the Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse has a fee of $65 dollars for each application given to the NCAA Eligibility Center. The only student-athletes who need to register are the athletes that are looking to play Division I and II athletics. Division III athletes do not need to submit their information to the Clearinghouse. In submitting their information as juniors, student-athletes become eligible to play Division I and II athletics and eligible to earn an athletic scholarship.

Do you have to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse at all? As previously stated Division I and II athletes need to submit their information to the eligibility center. Division III and NAIA student-athletes do not have to submit their information. If a Division I or II student-athlete does not submit their information before stepping on the field their freshman year, they will become ineligible until the Clearinghouse certifies that that student-athlete is eligible.

What are NAIA schools? The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is home to nearly 300 institutions in the U.S. and Canada. The NAIA is a separate governing body than the NCAA. The NAIA has its own policies and rules (pdf).

Do coaches gain more exposure to my student-athlete once he/she is eligible on the Clearinghouse? Registering with the Clearinghouse will not gain a student athlete any more exposure. The Clearinghouse only ensures that the student-athlete is eligible to play at the college level. College coaches have nothing to do with the Clearinghouse.

I got a letter from a Division I college. This means they want me, correct? Just because you received a letter from a Division I coach does not mean that they necessarily want you. Of course receiving mail feels great, but a lot of the time, they send mail to promote a camp, showcase, or the institution. A college letter is just the beginning, you need to follow that letter up by proactively promoting yourself so the coach and the program will want you. If the letter seems like a mass e-mail, or mass mailing, it probably is. Don’t get your hopes down, you made it on a list with many other prospective student-athletes looking at the school. Your goal is to stay on that list, and even work your way up that list. The way you do that is by being proactive, doing what you need to do in the classroom, and also on the field.

Can Division II schools give me athletic scholarship money? Yes, Division II schools are able to give student-athletes athletic scholarships. However, these schools might not have as much scholarship money as Division I institutions. Division III schools are not allowed to give athletic money to their student-athletes.

What is a core course? Core courses are math, science, english, and history courses. Gym, health, music, and many other electives are not considered core courses. Core courses are essential for eligibility to play at Division I and Division II schools. For Division I students-athletes, 16 core courses are needed in high school. For Division II student-athletes, that number is 14 core courses. Beginning August 1, 2013, students planning to attend an NCAA Division II institution will be required to complete 16 core courses.

Can my student-athlete get into college specifically on their ACT/SAT scores? ACT and SAT scores are usually looked at in what in the college admittance world is a sliding scale. If your student-athlete does well in the classroom but isn't a good test-taker, colleges will be more lenient due to his or her hard work in the classroom. If your student-athlete hasn’t done well on his or her GPA, but does better on the ACT or SAT, college coaches are more likely to let the GPA slide.

Are You a Division I Prospect?

So many athletes think that playing Division I is the end all and the be all. Remember that the majority of college baseball and softball opportunities exist outside of Division I. Look for schools that are a good athletic fit instead of a school that you are already familiar with because they are D-I.

Many D-I caliber baseball or softball players may be better suited for D-II or a top level D-III/NAIA School instead. In addition, many Division I coaches are looking more and more towards Junior Colleges for their potential recruits.

If you are dead set on playing Division I, you must be open to playing at the Junior College level first. D-I coaches want players who have the ability to contribute right away. As a result, many Division I coaches prefer Junior College players as opposed to high school seniors. In addition, Junior College gives eighteen year old prospects two years to train, develop, and prepare for D-I competition.

You can consider yourself a serious Division I baseball or softball prospect if you:

  • have received a trail of consistent, personal letters from D-I coaches beginning September 1st of your Junior year
  • have received phone calls from D-I schools beginning July 1st after your junior year
  • have been contacted by any local D-I program
  • are considered an All-State or All-Area prospect

Softball Athletic Skill Measurable

Student athletes need to meet particular skill levels to qualify to play. Our list of softball athletic skill measurables provides a baseline of the measurables D-I, D-II, D-III and NAIA coaches look for.

Division I Softball:

Similar to baseball, the typical DI softball players are ‘polished’ and possess the necessary tools to be successful as freshman.  Most DI players come from large high schools or play on elite club teams.  Many of these high school and club programs are considered the best in their area or in the state.  In addition, most DI players have been awarded accolades such as All Area, All County, or All State.

  • Pitchers: 60 – 63 + MPH; command of at least 3 pitches; sub 1.00 ERA
  • Catchers: 1.8 Pop Time or below, superior leadership ability
  • Middle Infielders: 3.0 or less Home to 1st
  • Corner Infielders: 3.0 or less Home to 1st, tremendous power potential
  • Centerfielders: 2.8 or less Home to 1st
  • Corner Outfielders: 2.9 or less Home to 1st, tremendous power potential

Division II Softball:

  • Pitchers: 58+ MPH; command of at least 3 pitches; sub 1.70 ERA
  • Catchers: 1.9 Pop Time or below, superior leadership ability
  • Middle Infielders: 3.0 or less Home to 1st
  • Corner Infielders: 3.0 or less Home to 1st, tremendous power potential
  • Centerfielders: 2.9 or less Home to 1st
  • Corner Outfielders: 3.0 or less Home to 1st, tremendous power potential

Division III and NAIA Softball:

Similar to baseball, the discrepancies in characteristics can be somewhat severe when it comes to schools competing at the DIII and NAIA level.  Be sure to fully research each individual program to get a better idea as to what type of player they are looking for. With that being said, pitchers, catchers, and position players interested in competing at the DIII and/or NAIA level should strive to meet the following measurables.

  • Pitchers: 55+ MPH
  • Catchers:  2.0 Pop Time or below
  • Position Players: 3.0 or less Home to 1st

College Recruiting for Baseball and Softball

At DNA Sports, we want to provide you the recruiting education and resources you need to successfully get recruited to play college baseball or softball.

Questions to Ask College Coaches

One of the key components to the recruiting process is asking questions. Our list of questions will help you obtain the essential knowledge you need before signing your athletic scholarship.

Recruiting Rules by Division

College baseball and softball recruiting rules vary depending on the level of play—D-I, -II, -III, or NAIA—and the student athlete's year in high school. Learn when and how you can begin communicating with college coaches.

College Recruiting by the Numbers

Learn the key statistics about college recruiting, including the average number of scholarships available at each college and where the highest percentage of collegiate opportunities exist.

Evaluating College Recruiting Resources

The amount of recruiting resources available to student athletes can be overwhelming. We separate the fact from fiction to provide you the information you need to guide your athlete to success.

Evaluating College Recruiting Resources

The amount of recruiting resources available to student-athletes can be overwhelming.  If you type college recruiting into any internet search engine, you will easily be bombarded with hundreds of different resources aimed at helping student athletes in the college recruiting process. These resources include elite showcases, college camps, summer exposure travel teams, and college recruiting services. 

However, does the existence of these resources make college recruiting easier to understand?  Do all of these services provide each student-athlete with a greater chance of achieving success in the recruiting process compared to past generations when few of these resources existed?  Does the cost of these recruiting resources justify their benefits?

While there are certainly a greater amount of recruiting resources available to today’s student athletes, DNA Sports believes that their existence has caused greater confusion about the process, in addition to thousands of dollars wasted. 

Many families are also unclear as to how to properly utilize these available resources, a fact that further hinders student athletes from being successful with this process.

Not only do prospective college recruits and their families need to be educated about the recruiting process in general, but they also need to understand the truth behind all of these recruiting resources and their limitations in order to avoid destructive traps that can take student-athletes off the correct path.

The Facts about College Recruiting Services

Many student athletes say: “I hired a recruiting service that sends my profile to hundreds of schools. This service has a success rate of 95%, and their student athletes receive on average $9,000 a year in scholarship dollars.”

FACT: The benefits of recruiting services rarely justify the cost.

A recruiting service will never hurt you in the process—in fact, it can only help. However, many of these recruiting services cost thousands of dollars for the creation of a profile and/or video, which they then email to hundreds of coaches nationwide.

The overwhelming majority of the schools these services send your information to are probably schools you would never consider attending. With that being said, it is clearly much cheaper to create your own list of schools, and send your own information out to them yourself.

FACT: Recruiting services send out multiple profiles and videos each day to the same college coaches who rarely evaluate them.

Because there are numerous recruiting services doing the same thing on a daily basis, college coaches are inundated with similar emails from recruiting services who are recommending prospects that the services themselves barely know.  In short, many of these emails are considered nothing more than junk mail, and are consequently never opened.

FACT: College coaches want prospect information from sources they trust.

If student athletes are paying a recruiting service to market them to college coaches, the recommendations and evaluations that these recruiting services provide will clearly be biased.

FACT: Any college coach will tell you that they want to hear directly from the student athlete, not mom or dad, and not from an outside source that is being paid to recommend and represent you.

Contacting college coaches on your own is a proactive approach to the recruiting process that shows maturity, poise, and responsibility, aspects that college coaches are looking for in all of their potential players.

FACT: Recruiting services are profit-driven organizations whose primary focus is to sell as many programs as possible.

In order to keep enrollment high, recruiting services often dishonestly evaluate potential prospects and make promises they cannot keep. While many recruiting services insist that their primary focus is on student athletes, in all reality this is secondary to meeting their enrollment numbers.  With such a large number of student athletes enrolled in a particular recruiting service, they cannot possibly provide everyone the individual attention that they need and deserve.

FACT: It is unclear as to the role the recruiting service actually plays in the recruitment process.

Similar to showcases, many recruiting services publicize the names of their student athletes and the scholarship offers they receive. In all reality, the role the recruiting service played in the process cannot truly be determined.

FACT: Many recruiting services provide inaccurate success rates and inflated scholarship dollars awarded.

Recruiting services get their success rates from graduating seniors who CHOOSE to fill out a survey indicating their overall satisfaction with the recruiting service during the process. Thus, the satisfaction rate can represent a VERY small portion of a service’s entire client base.

The same can be said for average scholarship dollars awarded. These numbers are also accumulated by those graduating seniors who CHOOSE to fill out the survey and disclose this information.

In addition, some recruiting services may include academic scholarships and financial aid into this average scholarship number. Clearly, student athletes do not need the help of a recruiting service to earn an academic scholarship or to be awarded financial aid dollars.  Secondly, there is a clear difference between academic scholarships, financial aid, and athletic scholarships.

FACT: A recruiting service is a tool that has its limitations.

If you decide to go with a recruiting service, understand that it is still really critical that you do some work on your own as well. At the end of the day, you need to be your own advocate.

In addition, be sure that you consistently communicate and follow up with your recruiting service, and hold them accountable for everything they say they will do for you.

The Facts about Summer and Fall All-Star Travel Teams

Many student athletes say: “My All Star Travel Team is going to be playing in the Holiday Wood Bat Classic in Peoria during the 4th of July Weekend.  This is a great opportunity for exposure.”

FACT:  There are only a select few tournaments for both baseball and softball where a vast number of college coaches will be in attendance.

In terms of the example above, you can be sure that college coaches will not be spending their 4th of July weekend away from their families on the recruiting trail.

FACT:  Getting exposure through tournament play is only possible if college coaches know who you are prior to attending a particular tournament.

Just like showcases, most college coaches come to tournaments to evaluate players they already know. Thus, the chances of being discovered at an exposure tournament are slim, unless you play for a well known elite program, in which case many college coaches are already familiar with the caliber of players that compete for your particular team.

FACT:  Travel baseball and softball is extremely watered down.

Playing for a Travel All Star Team does not necessarily mean that you are on a truly elite team, despite what the coaches of these programs may say.

FACT:  The connection between travel baseball and the recruiting process is unclear.

Travel baseball was at one time only about player development. Then it later evolved into a contest between coaches to see who could win the most games and tournaments. More recently, several coaches and organizations realized that money could be made if they somehow tied college recruiting to travel baseball and softball, or at least made it appear that a connection between the two existed.

When choosing a travel team, find a coach and program that puts the needs of student athletes first.

Travel baseball and softball is first and foremost about development, not about winning tournaments or getting exposure.  If you choose a program that is sincerely about athletic development, then the recruiting aspects will take care of themselves.

The Facts about College Camps

Many student athletes say: “I am going to the U. of Illinois Camp and then the U. of Iowa Camp.  I received brochures from both coaches in the mail, and this will give me the opportunity to showcase my talents for them.”

FACT: College camps are revenue generators for the coach and program that sponsor them.

As a result, college coaches want to fill their camps with as many student athletes as possible. The greater number of student athletes in attendance, the higher the profits.

FACT:  If you are not personally invited by a college coach to attend their camp, chances are your invitation was sent out simply to increase the attendance numbers of the camp.

In other words, just because you received a camp brochure in the mail does not mean that they are sincerely interested in you. In fact, chances are the coach sent you this camp invitation without even knowing who you are at all.  In many cases, college coaches got your name and contact information from a list of players who attended past showcases, camps, or exposure tournaments.

FACT: Receiving camp information from Division I or Division II schools does not mean you are a serious prospect.

Division I and Division II schools make up the majority of schools who offer college camps. Their goal is to invite as many athletes as possible in order to keep their attendance numbers high.

FACT:  Similar to showcases, college coaches use their camps to evaluate players they already know.

The chances for student athletes to be discovered at a college camp are slim. If the college coach does not know who you are prior to the camp, chances are slim that they will not be seriously evaluating you for their program during the duration of the camp.

FACT:  College camps can be a valuable recruiting tool for student athletes if they have had prior contact with the college coach.

Attending college camps gives student athletes a great opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a college coaching staff.

If a highly personalized letter accompanies your camp brochure, or you receive a phone call from a particular coach inviting you to their camp, then attending the camp is certainly worth considering.

If you are interested in a particular school, and you believe that the coach is indeed actively recruiting you, it is in your best interest to find out if they are either hosting a camp of their own or if they will be in attendance at another college camp.