Let's start with Camps: Camps are almost a necessity. It's a great way to get exposure to college coaches as well as measure your talent against your fellow recruits. It's never too early (or late) to attend a camp. These can be a little tricky though as well. Not all camps are good recruiting tools for girls wanting to go to the next level. Some are set up to teach skills to all age groups and, unfortunately, make money. When looking for a camp be mindful of the following:
Attendance If the camp has a restriction on how many can attend, that's a good thing. That means they are going to spend more time looking at each player as opposed to processing as many kids through an assembly line as possible.
Colleges If a camp has multiple colleges attending, that's typically a good thing as well. That means more exposure for you.
Age Groups If they allow ages or grades lower than 7th grade, it most likely is not a camp setup to find future college players. Instead, it's more of a fundamentals camp teaching drills and techniques.
Coaches If they mention that head coaches will be there, again, that's a good thing. You might want to think twice about camps where only the assistant coaches will attend.
HOW TO FIND THE THEM
There are several ways to find a camp, showcase, or combine. We are going to list a couple below to help get you rollin'.
NCSA The web site we directed you to earlier has the largest list of camps and showcases for the entire year that I've ever seen (click HERE). And by the way, that list has already been added to the spreadsheet you downloaded earlier!
Coaches Check with your high school coach or talk to one of the Rebel's coaches. They/We can help guide to the right camps that are best suited for you.
Ryzer This is a free web site (click HERE) that will allow alert you to search for camps in your area. You can set certain parameters (i.e. camps within a certain radius) to help make the search more focused. Plus, when new camps get added, they will send you a text or email alerting you.
Colleges If you have your list worked out, go directly to the college's web site and see if they are hosting a camp. A lot of them do.
College Softball Prospects This is another great web site that lists camps and showcases across the US (click HERE).
For more insight on College Coaches and Camps
For more information on Camps
Now let's talk about Coaches: There is a mountain of information on this topic and there are rules regarding how and when they can talk to you. But there's no rule on when you can reach out to them. As a general rule, you can start contacting coaches whenever you want, but they will not be able to respond until the dates listed in the RULES section.
We are going to cover some highlights here, then direct you to another web site that has even more detailed information on contacting college coaches.
Email Create your own email address for softball correspondence. Use your name, graduation year and position. (i.e. )
Social Media Colleges, as well as businesses, are starting to use social media as a way to examine future candidates. So be aware of what you post. Maybe create a new account that is similar to your email address that is used for softball. But also be aware of what you are posting on what you think is your "personal account". If you would ashamed to have your coach, parents, or your younger sister see it...maybe you shouldn't post it!
Tournaments Alerting a college coach to your upcoming tournaments isn't a bad idea, but considering how busy they are it's highly unlikely that they will make a special visit for every recruit. So, along with camps mentioned above, finding and playing in high profile tournaments where a college coach can see a lot of different prospects is a great way to get noticed. Like a showcase or top gun event.
Y-OU This entire journey is about you and your future. That means college coaches don't want to hear from your parents. So emails, phone calls, etc... they all need to come from YOU!
Mistakes There are several pitfalls to avoid. Check out the video below to learn more about what NOT to do.
So Much More Like we said, there's a mountain of information on this subject from "what do I put in the subject line to stand out" to "what do I say when I call a coach? So, please click on the link below and spend some time reading through it.
Last but not least... Recruitment Videos: Just like the "Contacting Coaches", this is another topic that has a lot of information and is extremely critical. This, in a lot of cases, can be the difference maker in getting introduced to a college coach. Think of it like a movie trailer. In a lot of cases, you won't go see a movie that has an 'uninspiring' trailer.... but if the trailer peaks your interest, you'll definitely check it out.
Below are a couple samples of a recruitment video.
When making your video make sure you:
Start with name, grad. year, high school, team name, and position.
Keep it short and to the point. 3-5 min.
Keep the music to a minimum.
It's not a social media clip, so don't bedazzle it, keep it simple.
Showcase fielding and throwing from 2-3 different angles.
Show different types catches and throws, i.e. crow hop, run and gun, diving, sliding, double play, backhand, forehand, etc..
Plan it out, like your making a movie.
Wear your uniform.
If using game clips, keep cheering to a min. and make sure you it's zoomed in enough to highlight you. Backstop GoPro's are not great for these.
Make sure the clips are high quality.
If game clips are against other recruits, label it as such so they know.
Do NOT show the same type of play, catch, throw, or hit over and over and over. It only takes a couple times for a coach to see what they wanted to see.
End with thanking them for watching and display your stats again.
For more information on what to put into, and what NOT to put into, your recruitment videos, check out this short clip below:
NOTE: There are hundreds of recruitment videos on YouTube alone (click HERE for a list). It's not only informative on what good and bad videos look like, but you can also use them as a reference to your own skills.
Sometimes the video will say if the girl has committed somewhere, but most of the time it won't. If not, pick a few girls better, equal to, and less skilled than you and go to the internet and search their name (i.e. Jane Doe Softball). See if you can find out if the girl has committed somewhere, and if so, what division. This can help you gauge your skill level against other girls already selected by a school. However, remember this only a recruitment video. This the foot in the door. Once you get your foot in the door, you're going to have to back it up with solid play against live batters, pitchers, and fielders.