Quality program research is a key element of recruiting success. The more you research and investigate programs of interest, the better informed your decision-making will be throughout the recruiting process, and the more likely the experience you expect to have at a particular school will match your actual lived experience once there.
In simple terms, the more effort you put into researching schools of interest, the better. Luckily, the digital age has blessed recruits with the ability to find out almost everything about a program online, without spending a dime. While roster research can be done by searching through team sites, there are services that specialize in presenting the information that is most helpful, saving you valuable time and going more in-depth than you’ll be able to do on your own. For those who can afford the small fee, a subscription to College Baseball Insights can take your research to the next level, providing organized roster, coaching, and school insights for every program out there at the click of a button.
In the remainder of this article, we’ll discuss why investigating programs is so important, how to conduct your own research, and what, specifically, you should be researching.
Why is Program Research so Important?
The recruiting process offers you a biased perspective. College coaches are really good at telling you all the great things about their program. Any recruiter worth his salt will also be able to put a positive spin on a potential red flag or redirect a question that will cast his program in a negative light. It’s their job to convince you that their school is the place you need to be. It’s your job to make sure that the narrative you are being told matches the facts, and most of the time that is easy to find out with a little effort.
Research also allows for you to look at the facts objectively outside of the heightened emotional state of a campus visit, offer, or exciting conversation. When you are on a visit or receiving interest, it’s also easy to let your emotions interfere with your better judgment. Doing research to confirm what you are being told allows for a cooling off period from the emotional highs and lows that categorize the recruiting process.
Bottom line, doing online research on a baseball program is free and is guaranteed to save you a lot of trouble down the road. Not sure when or where to start your research? Keep reading! Below, we detail how you can do an in-depth investigation of a program without ever leaving the computer and even provide you with this checklist to keep you organized.
When to Research?
The recruiting process for most college-bound players is nothing like it’s portrayed in ads and rumors. Unless you are a superstar player, you will spend most of high school working to develop the skills that college coaches covet and recruit. You will also likely have to actively recruit yourself, rather than have coaches flock to you with offers. The truth is, most recruits spend the vast majority of high school in the researching phase of recruitment. This means they should be spending time learning about college baseball, the recruiting process, developing a personal plan, and doing lots of research on programs that may be a fit. There is never a bad time for you to find out more about a potential school. In fact, quality research into where players on a roster come, what positions will have vacancies in your grad class, and more can help you pursue programs that are more likely to recruit you! (More on this later!)
We suggest doing online roster research when you are developing a list of potential schools, when you are contacted by a school you don’t know much about, and after you have spoken with a coach or visited a school. Online research can help you determine if a school fits your needs, and fact check what you’ve already been told about a program.
How to Research?
There are many sources of valuable information about a program its coaches and players. Start on the team website with the roster. Use social media, google, YouTube, and other sites to get more information and thoroughly investigate each school of interest. Qualify your results by comparing your findings to similar programs or schools in the same conference or division. You will be amazed what you can find out if you devote the time. Check out the ideas below to get started!
What to Research?
The team roster is a goldmine of information and should be the first place to go for your research. Look at the current and archived rosters, stats, and bios. Google players at your position. Get creative and see how much you can find out and what patterns you see. What do the backgrounds, abilities, size, etc. of their players tell you about how you might fit in? What are some of the standards you’ll have to meet? Here are more questions for your online research into schools:
- How many players do they have on their roster?
- How many players do they have at each position?
- Do they have a lot of upper-classmen returners at your position?
- Where are the players from?
- Do they have players from your area on their roster?
- Do they have a lot of players from one area or recruit all over?
- What is the balance of junior college recruits to high school recruits?
- Do they have players who have taken redshirt years?
- Looking back through the archives, how many players are leaving the program each year?
- How many juniors/seniors have stayed from freshman year?
- How many have dropped off?
- How many players will be graduating the year before your recruiting class comes in?
- Will they have a positional need for you in their recruiting class?
- What information can you find about incoming recruits/signees and the size of recruiting classes from the past?
Player Characteristics and Skills
- What physical size are the players? How about the players at your position?
- What is the balance of right-handed hitters/pitchers versus left-handed hitters/pitchers?
- What do the player bios tell you about their past baseball accomplishments? Do they match yours?
- Can you find evaluations of the players at your position from high school online? What about recruiting videos or measurables like 60-yard dash times or velocity?
- What other useful information can you gather from player bios?
- What else can you learn by looking at their roster?
Explore coaching bios the same way you do for the players. Find their social media and Google their name to see what comes up in addition to what is on the school website.
Head Coach Tenure
- How long has the head coach been there?
- What is the head coach’s win-loss record?
- How is the strength of schedule?
Head Coach Track Record
- How many previous coaching positions have they had? How frequently have they left jobs?
- How many players have they sent on to the next level?
- How have their teams performed in the past?
- How much assistant coach turnover have they had in the last 3-5 years?
- Which coach is responsible for your position group?
- Where have they coached before and what is their playing/coaching background?
Miscellaneous (All Coaches)
- Can you find any important information in their bio?
- Do the coaches have social media? What are they talking/posting about?
- What personality traits can you pick up from the info available?
- Are there interviews, post-game speeches, or podcasts with useful information that you can watch or listen to?
- Do they give off any tells about what they look for in a player or recruit?
- Can you gain any information about their coaching or developmental philosophies?
- Do they host or attend any camps that you can attend?
Incoming Recruiting Class
You can often find interesting information about incoming recruiting classes through other websites and social media. This can give you insight into roster composition and number of players who will be on the team.
- How many commitments do they already have for future classes and what does this say about when they will be actively recruiting your recruiting class?
- What type of info can you find on the current commits (physical size, velocity of pitchers, 60 times, accolades, etc.)?
- Do you have similar physical characteristics and skill sets to their current commits in your class?
- Does the number of players they are bringing in match the number leaving?
Other Areas to Research
- How will the facilities help your development?
- Are the baseball facilities on campus? If not, how far are they and how do you get there?
- Do they have facilities for poor weather/winter?
- What baseball resources will be available to help you get better?
- Does the program have any notable alumni?
- Are players moving on to other programs (for 2-year schools) or the next level (for 4-year schools)?
- Are alumni having success in their work lives?
- What types of professions do alums go into?
- Are there things to do on or near campus?
- Are there enough food options on campus?
- Where do players live? Dorms? Apartments? House? Off-Campus? On-Campus?
- What type of campus is it? City? Urban? Country?
- What is the weather like?
- Does the program have social media accounts? If so, do they post regularly?
- Is the website up-to-date?
- Are there long lapses in news stories or do they post throughout the year?
- Is there footage of practice/training/games on social media?
- Can you watch or listen to games online?
- Are stats up-to-date in season?
You’ll be amazed what you can find out and how helpful it can be to spend time doing thorough online research. Remember, you will be spending more time with your coaches and teammates than anyone else for the 2-4 years of college and you want to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. While no decision is final, you will be thankful to find a fit your first time around. Leave no stone unturned and good luck!