The college baseball recruiting process has many twists and turns. Everyone’s recruitment is different, so you may often wonder if you are ‘doing the right thing’. KPB has an entire section of this website devoted to guiding you through each step of the recruiting process in chronological order, but there are also some ‘forever priorities’ that can always help steer you in the right direction. No matter where you are in the recruiting process, if you prioritize these six things, you will continue to improve as a person, player, and college prospect.
Academics are the cornerstone of college baseball. We have written extensively about how better grades (and test scores) mean better opportunities in college baseball. The simple truth is, without requisite grades and test scores, playing college baseball becomes much more difficult. Having good grades and test scores not only give you many more opportunities, they can also earn you academic scholarship money to make college more affordable. Lastly, your transcripts and academic record tell college coaches a lot more than you think. If you want to play college ball, it starts in the classroom!
- Health and Player Development
Without your health, it is incredibly difficult to develop and improve as a baseball player, so these two things go hand-in-hand. All too often, we see players sacrifice their health or development for exposure type opportunities. Some of the typical ways players hurt themselves or their development are:
- Attending too many showcase events
- Participating in showcase events at the wrong time (too young, wrong time of the year, not in mid-season baseball shape, etc.)
- Playing for one team over another, even though it means sacrificing playing time and development opportunities
- An unhealthy balance of games and practices (many games, too few practices)
- Not taking the appropriate amount of rest during the off-season or having a year-round game schedule
- Not putting enough focus on the weight room and nutrition (see below for more on this!)
These are just a few of many common ways that health and player development are sacrificed at the youth baseball level. As a player, you will be forced to make difficult and possibly even unpopular decisions that impact your health and development, but if you prioritize your health and development opportunities, the decisions will benefit you greatly in the long run.
- Strength and Conditioning
This goes hand-in-hand with development and health. If you want to play college baseball, you need a strength and conditioning program that is integrated into your schedule. There are many great, free resources out there to help you come up with a strength training plan that will maximize your potential. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, but you do need to find something that you can do consistently. We discuss the importance of strength and conditioning and link to some of the free resources and experts who can help you create a plan that’s right for you here. Of course, you should always talk your plan over with your coach or a professional.
- Being Present
We alluded to this above, but the best way to get where you want to go is by immersing yourself in the present moment. The truth is, nothing is guaranteed and you never truly know when you will play your last game. So why spend all your time worrying about the future? By doing as well as you possibly can right now, you will set yourself up best for the future. Prepare well, play hard, play to win, have fun, and the people that can help you get to the next level will take notice. Dominating the present is a recipe for success at any level.
No matter how good you are, your last game of baseball will eventually come. What you will be left with are a well-rounded set of life skills, memories and relationships. When we ask former players what they are most thankful for in their college baseball experience, relationships are the #1 response. Read some for yourself here.
- Having Fun
The umpires say ‘Play Ball!’ at the beginning of the game for a reason. This may seem obvious, but why play if you are not having fun? Players who show up at college programs to play ball ‘just because’ will not last long. The college baseball recruiting process can be stressful at times, but when you are at the field, you should be having fun. Get lost in the moment, have fun, and make memories. By focusing on the present and enjoying the process, you will give yourself the best chance at success both now and in the future. Years from now, you won’t remember details about how you were recruited. What you will remember most is all the fun you had on the diamond with your friends. Control what you can control and focus on having fun!
For simplicity sake, we have tried to boil down the ‘forever priorities’ to the essentials. Add to this list so that it suits you and your priorities best. If you ever feel lost or faced with a difficult decision, turn to your ‘forever priorities’ to keep you on the right track.