The Rule Book As of 2018, the NCAA has come out with a new set of recruitment rules and guidelines that are some of the most restrictive among all college sports. So we are going to give you a break down per division. These are very important, please don't overlook them.
AFTER Sept. 1 Junior Year (This is a big date to remember) Coaches can send athletes all forms of private electronic correspondence, including text messages, instant messages, direct messages and emails, as well as all recruiting materials. Coaches can also call athletes at this point. NO contact is permitted before this date between a college coach and the recruit, their parents, their current coaches or any other third party. Athletes may also begin taking official visits and unofficial visits and planning them with the school’s athletic department.
Short answer.... DI college coaches can't talk to you in any fashion, not even return emails or phone calls until after 9/1 of your junior year.
AFTER July 15 before Junior Year Coaches may begin calling athletes. They can also conduct off-campus communications with athletes and/or their parents. At this time, athletes may start taking official visits. Coaches may send athletes printed recruiting materials. NOTE: Athletes can receive brochures for camps, questionnaires, NCAA materials and non-athletic recruiting publications at any time.
Short Answer... DII coaches can't talk to you until after 7/15 of the summer before your junior year.
Anytime...kinda Athletes can receive recruiting materials at any time. There is no limit on when college coaches can call athletes. After the athlete’s sophomore year, college coaches may begin to conduct off-campus communications. Athletes can begin taking official visit after January 1 of their junior year
Short Answer... DIII is very relaxed as you can see!
Anytime...literally The NAIA has fewer recruiting rules than the NCAA. NAIA coaches can contact student athletes anytime during high school. NAIA recruiting tends to start a little later than NCAA DI or DII recruiting, as NAIA coaches see which athletes just missed the cut to compete at a DI school. They also spend more time making sure that their school is the right fit for athletes socially and academically, as well as athletically.
Short Answer... They have very few restriction, but even though they can speak to you sooner, they'll most likely decide a little later in your high school career.
SOFTBALL RECRUITMENT CALENDAR
The NCAA has a recruitment calendar. Think of it like a season for a softball player. During your season there's times when you only train, you have certain times "off", you have parts of the season dedicated to spring tournaments, fall tournaments, and so on... The recruitment calendar has:
Contact Period: During this time, coaches can email, text, call, direct message and generally contact athletes and their parents through any NCAA-approved method.
Evaluation Period: Throughout the evaluation period, coaches are allowed to watch an athlete compete in person or visit them at their school or home. However, there are some specific rules about where coaches can evaluate athletes, so pay close attention to whether coaches can evaluate athletes at school events, non-school events or both.
Quiet Period: The quiet period is a time when coaches may not have face-to-face contact with recruits off the college campus, such as at the athletes’ school, or at the athlete’s games and tournaments. In other words, the coach can only talk to recruits on the coach’s campus or through any other approved electronic means of communication.
Dead Period: During the dead period, coaches may not have any in-person contact with recruits or their families. Coaches can still keep in touch with recruits via phone, email, social media and other approved electronic means of communication.
The NCAA restricts which camps and clinics college softball coaches and their staff members are allowed to work at. The rules state that coaches and their staff members can only work at events off their campus if they take place during periods where evaluations are permitted at non-scholastic practices or competitions. This is something that coaches know to comply with, so families generally don’t have to worry about it. However, when looking at attending events for exposure, keep the evaluation periods in the back of your mind, and avoid attending off-campus camps or clinics during evaluation periods where coaches can only attend scholastic practices and competitions.
For more information on Softball Recruiting Calendar and what dates relate to what period: