(Part 2) – Tired of traveling to every tournament known to man? Here’s a strategy to save your wallet and your weekends — and get better results

Parents are convinced that to earn a scholarship, players must travel to as many showcases and tournaments as possible, rely on coaches for exposure, and let stats speak for themselves.

This line of thinking has led armies of parents to spend tens of thousands of dollars while seeing no discernible progress toward a scholarship, or even a roster spot.

My parents believed this, too.

We traveled to every showcase and tournament imaginable. We picked travel teams because of specific coaches that we thought would connect me with schools. My dad estimates that we spent $10,000+ on my recruiting process in high school.

And that number is now considered cheap…one softball coach estimates that a “14u-18u player doing nationwide tourneys at the highest level of play, weekly lessons, attending camps, and a skills video…” is spending $22,000-$25,000 a year.

Even a “12u player doing local tourneys in surrounding counties with no additional lessons” is spending on average $2,500-$3,000 a year.

But you know what may be even worse than the cost of money?

The cost of time.

Think about how many lessons you’ve driven to, how many practices you’ve watched , how many weekends you’ve lost watching games in some god-forsaken city in the middle of nowhere in the sweltering heat…

…while you’ve wondered if it’s ever going to pay off.

This is the chase for exposure…the desire to “get noticed.”

The biggest myth in the recruiting process is that traveling to tournaments guarantees you exposure.

Exposure

The exposure hunt has led parents to sling money out of their pockets on tournaments that will give their kid “attention” — and surrender weekends for showcases that will “put their kid on the map.”

Parents think — “Texas A&M is going to be at that tournament. If we go to that tournament, the coach will see Johnny play”

…not realizing that the odds of this happening — without prior contact — are basically zilch. (I’ll explain why in a few lines)

The culture of “getting noticed” has conditioned us to spend money, travel to tournaments, rely on coaches — and assume that’s just the way things are done.

Sure…that’s how things have traditionally been done. But this is not the most effective way to earn a scholarship — or even a roster spot.

A player’s development is important. Practices and lessons are good things, and can be helpful in the recruiting process. And tournaments are necessary to some degree…coaches have to see you play somewhere.

But, the idea that you can gain exposure by simply throwing your kid out on a field in front of coaches after some polishing up at lessons and practices is — though well-intended — misguided.

Exposure is more complicated than that. If this is your strategy, you’re playing a game of luck.

If you want to see a high ROI in your recruiting process, you have to play a game of value.

I don’t like the phrase “get noticed” because it implies that college coaches are looking down on players from an ivory tower, watching them beg for their attention, approval, and validation.

You can try and play this game if you want, but you’re going to be competing against hundreds of thousands of other players for attention…

…and that’s going to be expensive and time-consuming — and most of all, ineffective.

Here’s what I propose instead…

How coaches *actually* recruit players

First, start by acknowledging that college coaches need your kid as much as your kid needs them.

Coaches need to fill holes in their roster all the time. They’re in need of good players. And in order to find them, they have to sift through hundreds of thousands of players begging for their attention — to find the few that are actually going to be of value to them.

Notice how the attitude shifted. Coaches are no longer in an ivory tower with all the power…they’re in the slums, with a ton of work ahead of them, pleading for good players.

Here’s the cliff notes version of how coaches find/recruit players —

  1. Figure out what they need (positions/classes)
  2. Look through emails from players and PG/PBR profiles
  3. Watch videos of players and select ones they like
  4. Find out which tournaments are going to give them the greatest return on investment (i.e. which tournaments are going to have the most players they’re interested in so they don’t have to attend different tournaments for each player)
  5. Go to those tournaments to watch those players — choose the ones they like.

Important takeaways from this:

  • Coaches recruit for what they need, not simply for the best players.
  • Video (or live scouting) is their preferred evidence as proof a player is worth recruiting (not stats).
  • When coaches go to tournaments, they watch the players they’ve already communicated with, or the players at a specific position that they need (so if they don’t know about you before the tournament, it’s unlikely that you’ll get their attention).

Coaches are looking for any help they can get in separating the players of value from the players of noise.

Your New Strategy

In part one of this article, we talked about 3 ways you can turn your recruiting process around.

  • Target schools that need your son’s/daughter’s position
  • Make video the centerpiece of your recruiting campaign
  • Think about your recruiting process like your own personal business

All three of these methods help you cut to the heart of the matter — they show you how to give coaches exactly what they want, and in return, give you what you’ve been working so hard for.


But I’m going to change up the order of these three strategies…because order matters.

Step One: View the recruiting process like your own personal business

Your kid is the product, and college coaches are your market. In order to serve yourself, you have to serve others.

If a company wants to make money, they have to first learn how they can help their customers…because without their customers, they wouldn’t have buyers. And without buyers, they can’t make money.

In your personal recruiting business, you must find what coaches need, package your kid’s value neatly, and put that product right in front of coaches who need it.

Rather than trying to “get noticed,” you want to provide value to those who need it.

This is a step in itself because it will change the way you approach every aspect of the recruiting process. It will change the way you send emails, answer phone calls, talk to coaches, attend tournaments, choose showcases, etc. You have to change out the previous lens you viewed the recruiting process through.

Step Two: Find coaches that need your kid (and how to do that)

The goal is to find the holes that coaches need to fill. What positions are they probably recruiting for your class? This will help you identify schools that are more likely to respond to your emails.

You can go about this in the exact way that coaches go about this…you’ll just have to do a little more leg work than them since you’re not on the inside (since you don’t know their rosters as well as they do).

Here’s how they determine their need (i.e. what you should do).

{For explanation purposes, let’s say your kid is a junior in high school}

Tactic one: Look at the team’s roster and count the underclassmen at your position.

If the school you’re emailing has a large number of underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) at your kid’s position, they probably won’t respond to your email — they don’t need to recruit your position.

A “large” number is relative to the position. For catchers, large would be 2 or more. For pitchers, large may be 5 or more…depending on the sport.

So if you’re a junior outfielder and the school has 3 underclass outfielders, they probably don’t need you. You can email still email them, but don’t rely on this opportunity.

Instead, look for schools that have “large” numbers of upperclassmen. If a school has a healthy number of upperclass players at your position (and lacks underclass players), the school is probably looking to bring in some young players at that position. These are schools that are more likely to respond to your email.

Tactic two: See what players have already committed to the school.

If the roster shows they are in need, but they’ve already signed a player to come in and fill that role, then the school is no longer in need. You can find this by simply googling “(school) (class) (sport) commits.”

If the school has already signed someone at your position in your class, it’s unlikely that they’re going to respond to your email.

Tactic three: Investigate how the current players at your position are performing.

If the current players at your position are not performing well, the coach may be looking to bring in someone else to clean up the mess.

Check the stats of the current players and see if a team may be in need (if you want to get really intense, you can follow the box scores and update an excel spreadsheet like my dad and I did).

Your search doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re not looking for perfect. You’re looking for “more likely to respond.”

The more factors you can point in this direction, the more success you’re going to have in email. And make no mistake, email is your prized tool in your tool belt. Not tournaments, not showcases — email.

Let’s say you’ve found a number of schools that look like they may be in need of your position…now what?

Step Three: Prove (and provide) your value to them — through video.

Video is KING in the recruiting process.

It’s more important than stats — it’s more important than a good 60-time.

Stats are the credible forward to your novel — but your video is the book…it’s where the real value is.

Video tends to be a better indicator of how a high school player will perform in college. Players who dominated high school ball under-perform in college all the time. Coaches like video because they can see the raw product they’ll have to work with, and then can estimate how much they’ll be able to develop the player.

Video is game simulation. It’s not as good as a live game, but it’s close. And that slight reduction in quality is worth the convenience — a coach can evaluate your kid from the comfort of his own home. And, it’s cheaper for the school. Traveling cross-country can be risky for coaches because they may spend a heap of money flying out to see a player only to be disappointed with the performance.

Instead, they can virtually watch you play and determine if it’s worth the money and time to verify your skill in person. At that point, flying out to see you is almost a formality.

The more video you send, the more credibility you gain. There’s a huge difference between a coach seeing 2 videos of your kid and 20 videos of your kid.

2 videos say, “are you interested?” — 20 videos say, “here’s my value, over and over again.”

Now you’re playing a game of value…not a game of luck.

Use these three methods to reduce your reliance on luck in the recruiting process.

If you’re mad that a coach is looking at his phone while your daughter is up to bat, that’s not the coach’s fault…it’s yours.

If he knew about your daughter beforehand, and knew that she might be valuable to him, he would not be looking at his phone. He would be laser-focused on her.

If you’re hoping a coach happens to walk by your son’s field at the same time he comes up to bat and hits a double at a tournament with 12 fields and 500 players, you’ve already lost the recruiting game.

What are the odds that this happens? Good enough to throw some money down in Vegas?

Instead, you have to establish a direct connection with college coaches so that when those coaches show up to your tournaments, you know they’re there to watch YOUR kid. When your kid comes up to bat, the coach isn’t watching little, random Johnny in left field…he’s watching your son.

Why?

Because you’ve already established a direct connection with him, and showed him you’re valuable. You’re worth the effort, time, and money to recruit, even if you’re buried in a sea of hundreds of players.

I’ll end with a cutesy phrase that’s anything but cute: you want your emails to be an oasis of value in a desert of hype.

While other players are pedaling as hard as they can trying to gain the attention of college coaches, I want you to calmly flip the recruiting process over — and look at it from a completely different angle.

Join my email list to learn more…that’s where I share my best stuff.

VERY IMPORTANT: When you sign up, I’m gonna send you an email to say hi. If you don’t see that email in your inbox, check your spam/junk/promotions folder and dig it outta there!

Also, follow the Facebook page I created specifically for parents. I can save you time by organizing all the information you need in one place.

Tired of traveling to every tournament known to man? Here’s a strategy to save your wallet and your weekends — and get better results

The recruiting process is one of those things where you can’t wait for it to be over, but you aren’t really sure how you’re going to reach the end — or how to get the results that make it all worth it.

Here are three truths about the process:

  • It’s expensive

Between lessons, team dues, tournament fees, travel expenses, hotels, gear, and a whole bunch of other expenses you don’t even realize — the recruiting process can be extremely expensive.

Spoiler alert: there are ways to save money, and still get the results you want.

  • Travel coaches don’t have time to devote the necessary attention to each player on their team.

Even if your travel coach has the connections he says he has, it’s impossible for him to give the ample attention required to build exposure and interest for every player. There are too many players on his plate.

The good news is…you don’t need his undivided attention to gain exposure. You can acquire most (if not all) of it yourself.

  • Results are hard to come by, even if you’re spending hours upon hours at practices and tournaments.

Throwing time or money at the recruiting process won’t get you results. The majority of people aren’t traveling to tournaments because it’s the most effective, efficient method to earn a scholarship. They’re doing it because that’s what everyone else is doing, and they don’t know what else to do.

Here’s the best news…there’s a strategy that works. There’s an approach that can reduce your spending, limit reliance on your travel coach, and achieve the results you want.

To implement the strategy, you don’t have to know anything about baseball or softball.

You don’t need to travel all over the country for tournaments and showcases.

And you don’t need to spend lots of money on a recruiting site that’s going to give you access to their “database.”

So instead of burning yourself out, consider an alternative route that lets you work with your son to achieve a shared goal…think of the recruiting process as a way to bond with your daughter while preparing for the future — and you can do all of this without sacrificing quality.

Here are three things you can do to get results

  • Target schools that need your son’s/daughter’s position

When applying for a job, the first step is to find companies that are hiring. It’s no different in the recruiting process. Find schools that are in need of your son or daughter’s position.

If a school has a freshman all-american catcher, they don’t need your daughter (a junior catcher). They’re not going to respond to her email, no matter how good she is.

The easiest way to do this is to check the rosters of the schools you’re interested in. If they have a bunch of underclassmen at your son’s position, they’re not going to respond to your email. There are other ways to determine the need of the school, but we’ll look more closely at those in part two.

  • Make video the centerpiece of your recruiting campaign

Video is great for many reasons.

First, it’s cheap. You can make a recruiting video for $0. You don’t have to pay anyone to do it for you. Here, I’ll show you how.

Second, it simulates live action. It’s the next best thing to a coach watching your son play live.

Third, the coach doesn’t have to spend the time and money traveling to evaluate your daughter. He can evaluate her while he’s sitting on the toilet in his own home.

Fourth, video is the best way to prove to a coach that you’re valuable. Statistics are great…but video is more important. Don’t believe me? Then why do most coaches insist on seeing players live even if a player has good stats?

Statistics don’t tell the whole story…they’re a credible forward to your novel. But your video is the book — it’s where the real value is.

Game video is usually better than practice video. But, if you don’t have any game video you’re happy with, practice video will work just fine — as long as it’s in a cage or on a field. The video shouldn’t be from your garage or your backyard.

  • Think about the recruiting process like a business.

Your son or daughter is the product. College coaches are your market. It’s not enough to put him in a tournament and hope for the best. Exposure is more complicated than that.

There are tons of companies out there that spend a fortune on marketing and never see the sales they expect.

Why does this happen?


It happens because the will to buy is more complicated than exposure. You can’t simply tell people about your product…that alone doesn’t convince them it’s valuable and worth buying.

To make exposure valuable, you have to figure out what your market is looking for, make a GOOD product, package it beautifully, and put it where they can see it.

You have to sell to people who want to buy.

By making email/video the centerpiece of your campaign, you can pick and choose the tournaments that are going to give you the best return on investment in the recruiting process.

You don’t have to attend all of them to try and find the 2 or 3 that are going to be most effective.

Continue to part 2

The 6 Questions about the Recruiting Process I Get Asked the Most, with answers

I get asked the same six questions…all. the. time. Here are my answers to these six questions! This page will always be current (I’ll continually update it).

What do I write in my emails to coaches?

Email is one of the most important parts of your recruiting process. It’s the driving force behind everything else you’re going to do (showcases, tournaments, phone calls, visits, etc).

Here’s the tricky thing about email: the contents of your email matter a lot, but WHO you email also really matters. There are lots of factors that determine whether you get responses from coaches or not.

So if you want to know how to find coaches that are more likely to respond to your email, exactly what to include in your email, and how to make your email better than everyone else’s…

Then join Effective Email (a course where I show you exactly what to do).

If you want to start getting responses this week (maybe even today), then you’ll love Effective Email. We’ll turn your ugly-duckling email into a beautiful swan…and kick your recruiting process into 5th gear (the really fast one).

Don’t be the guy who spends a fortune on showcases and tournaments, but doesn’t get responses because he didn’t master emailing schools.

Want to make your showcases and tournaments effective? Want to ensure that coaches are watching YOU at those tournaments?

Master email.

Click here to join Effective Email

Which coach do I email?

You’ll want to email the recruiting coordinator. If no coach is designated as the recruiting coordinator, email the assistant coach that corresponds to your position (if you’re a pitcher, email the pitching coach, etc.). Don’t email the head coach…he has very little to do with recruiting.

What do I put in a recruiting video, and how do I make my video stand out?

Great news!…I wrote an entire article on this. It’s comprehensive, so it should answer your questions. You can read it here.

If your question is not answered in this article, email me. My email address is on this page.

Can you give me swing/arm/defense advice?

I do not give personal baseball skill advice at this time. This may change in the future. As of right now, I’m only giving recruiting advice.

“I’m sending out emails…but not getting many responses. What do I do?”

If this is you, start by looking at your list of schools. There are 3 questions you should ask…

  • “Am I emailing schools in my talent bracket?” (If you’re not getting the responses you want, you may need to lower your sights)
  • “Am I emailing schools that have a need?” (I talk extensively about how to do this in the welcome email that gets sent out when you join my email list. You can sign up here.)
  • “Am I emailing enough schools?” (Emailing 5-10 schools is probably not going to be sufficient. Target your schools, but keep in mind that the more schools you email, the better your chances are).

What year should I start sending emails out?

You can begin sending emails out as early as your freshman year, but note that coaches currently cannot respond to your email before September 1 of your junior year. They can send you camp invites, and they can talk to your travel coach, but they cannot directly respond to you.

If you have friends that are committing as freshmen, they either went to a school’s individual camp (where coaches can talk to you directly), or the college coach went through your friend’s travel coach. It is NOT common to commit as a freshman.

If you are a late bloomer (need more time to develop and mature physically), then wait to send emails out until your sophomore or junior year. It does you no good to email schools if you can’t prove to them that you will be of value to them. Wait until you think you can prove value to them through your video.

If your question was not answered here, please email me. My email address is on this page.

The Deal with Transferring and Junior College

My sophomore year of college, I was 4th on the depth chart at the University of Oregon, and I knew I had to leave.

I believed I had more in the tank, that I was capable of being the starting catcher for a division one program. I was nervous about making the change, but I was willing to bet on myself for the chance of finding a school where I could thrive.

In the winter of 2014, I left the University of Oregon and enrolled myself at Orange Coast College, a junior college in southern California.

I had no idea what this meant. I didn’t know the risks, I didn’t know the implications…heck, I didn’t even know our school’s mascot.

All I knew was that I wanted to get back to the division one level.

I understood that it was going to be difficult, and I knew I had to be smart about how I went about the recruiting process, but I was confident we (my dad and I) could find a strategy that would work.

And we did.

We developed a calculated system that had my phone ringing off the hook. I couldn’t believe the interest I was getting. Didn’t these schools know that I hit .208 my freshman year at Oregon and that I was 4th on the depth chart going into my sophomore season?

It didn’t matter. Good coaches know that it only takes the right program and the right coaching to mold a player into a middle of the order guy.

I sifted through the offers, getting honest and real about what I wanted out of my college experience and what kind of program I wanted to play for.

Eventually, I narrowed it down and took visits to 3 schools:

  • The University of Connecticut — a strong academic school with a coach whom I trusted
  • Indiana University — A good blend of baseball and academics (with a coach whom I really liked)
  • Mississippi State University — A baseball powerhouse with an unmatched tradition (and another fantastic coach)

In the summer of 2015, I made my decision: I accepted a scholarship offer to Mississippi State University.

With the NCAA’s decision to give all players a year of eligibility back due to the cancelling of the 2020 season, more players than ever are going to end up transferring.

As a player who transferred, I think it’s my duty to inform you all of the path you are considering.

There are two possible routes you may take…

The first depends on the NCAA’s decision to approve a penalty-free transfer rule that would allow players to transfer from one division one school to another without having to sit out a year. A vote for this rule is expected sometime this summer.

The second route is that you choose to enroll in a junior college before jumping to another division one school.

I’ll address each of these.

For the first route, there isn’t a whole lot to say. If the decision gets approved and players can transfer without penalty, you won’t have to go the junior college route.

But, you’ll still be in a recruiting process. You’ll have to get in contact with prospective schools and prove that you can be valuable to them. You’ll need to market yourself effectively.

Now, let’s talk about the second route.

For those who are thinking of enrolling in a junior college, there’s a lot to know.

Here are 4 things I wish I had known before I made this decision:

  • Junior college is better than the reputation it has.

I remember thinking that going to junior college was a downgrade, that I wasn’t meant to go to a junior college. My elitist attitude almost kept me from one of my favorite seasons I’ve ever played.

I met kids who had a chip on their shoulder. I met guys who were serious about playing division one baseball, and put the time and effort in to accomplish their goals. I met grinders, guys who didn’t care about the free stuff…guys who just wanted to ball out.

I remember going to LA Fitness with two of my teammates at 11pm many nights because we were hungry to get better and we wanted to get back to division one baseball so badly. These are the types of guys you find at junior colleges.

I had a blast playing for some of my favorite coaches of all time. I learned a lot, and I grew to be a better player.

The talent level can be pretty good, depending on where you play. OCC was a consistent title contender. We played in a strong conference full of division one bounce backs (player who go from a division one school to a junior college). To give you some idea, I would say that the first 5 guys in our lineup were division one guys, and the top 4 pitchers on our team were division one guys. Obviously, these numbers vary based on the team…some have more, some have less.

And I must say that junior college reignited my career. My time at OCC led me to MSU, which led me to professional baseball. I owe much of my success in recent years to my junior college decision.

  • Going the junior college route is a big risk/reward decision.

I don’t want to downplay this…deciding to attend a JC with the hopes of getting a chance to play at another division one school is a huge risk.

If you don’t play well in a short period of time, your options will vanish. If you get hurt, your options will vanish. Your career can end much sooner than you anticipated. I don’t mean to scare you, but I do want to make sure you know the implications of the decision you are making.

On the flip side, the rewards can be extravagant. I went from being 4th on the depth chart at a Pac-12 school to being the starting catcher on an SEC championship team, all in a matter of a year and a half.

If you are dissatisfied with your current situation, then junior college may be the right move for you. But acknowledge the possible consequences of your decision…they can be very serious.

  • Junior college is a grind

There’s not a lot of money in the junior college baseball world. You’re not going to be taking nice buses, and you’re not going to be getting a bunch of gear. You may not even have a locker room…OCC didn’t. We changed in the dugouts or in our cars.

You’re not going to be playing in front of a ton of people, and the fields aren’t going to be that nice. Just accept it…JUCO is a grind.

Oh, by the way…

I loved it. I loved the grind. I loved the mentality. I loved the lack of entitlement. I loved everything about it. You just need to know that’s what you’re walking into.

  • D1 schools need junior college players

Division one programs use junior college players as “quick fixes.” When a team needs a role filled right away, and doesn’t want to wait for an incoming freshman to develop and fill the role, they recruit a junior college player to come in and dominate the role for a year or two.

This was my role at Mississippi State. They had a talented freshman catcher, but he wasn’t ready to be the everyday starter. They recruited me to fill the spot until he was ready.

Teams are looking for junior college players all the time…so yes, there’s a market for them.

————

Having said all of this, the decision really does depend on the player. Junior college is a great decision for some, and a terrible decision for others.

In the end, your ability to find your way to another division one school is based on two things: development and marketing.

You have to be good enough to provide value to division one schools, and you have to know how to help division one schools find your value.

If you want to know more about the system I used to gain the attention of dozens of schools after I hit .208 at Oregon and was 4th on the depth chart my sophomore year, join my email list. It’s free.

Navigating the Recruiting Process During COVID-19

Many people are wondering how to continue their recruiting process during the coronavirus quarantine. With seasons cancelled and the rest of the year uncertain, it’s easy to get anxious about the already difficult process.

There’s a lot we don’t know about the NCAA’s plans and what the landscape is going to look like for the next year, or more.

I’m going to share what I would do if I were in the recruiting process right now. Truthfully, there’s only so much you can do at this time to further your process. But there are things you can do right now that will benefit you in the long run and help you achieve success later on. Don’t get bored with slow progress. It’s essential to ultimate triumph. Learn from the guy who went through the process twice…play the long game.

Before we start…let’s get one thing straight: no, you’re not falling behind in the recruiting process during coronavirus. Everyone is quarantined; everyone’s season is cancelled. No one is secretly playing tournaments or having covert conversations with college coaches down by the docks like something out of Peaky Blinders. This really is a quiet period. Having said that, I do think this time can be used productively and that you can take a few small steps to gain some ground in the process.

Here’s how I would use my time if I were in the recruiting process during coronavirus:

  • I would double the number of schools on my list to email.

If you’ve read any of my stuff, whether on the site or from my emails, you know that I don’t advocate for sending out a bunch of random emails. This is hardly ever a good strategy. I have always strongly recommended finding schools that excite you, that fit your needs, and that have a need for your position. However, this takes a lot of time and research…and if you’re in high school, you already have a full day of school, baseball, family obligations, and a social life.

This means that you don’t have the time to research a ton of schools, find ones that fit your needs, target those schools for their needs, write your emails, put together your video, and send them off. You can do some, but not nearly as many as you can do now. If I were you, I would continue to find schools that meet my needs and target schools that need me, but I would do this in greater quantity.

Your list is a numbers game. Yes, a shorter list of filtered, targeted schools is more valuable than a longer list of unfiltered, random schools. But, what if you had a longer list of filtered, targeted schools? Your chances of getting multiple responses shoot through the roof if you increase the number of schools you reach out to. It’s simple mathematics…probability for the win!

Use this down time to add schools to your list. Don’t sacrifice quality, but increase the quantity.

  • I would create a stockpile of video (if possible).

Now, this one will not be possible for everyone. But, if you do have access to a cage or somewhere you can hit and get some defensive work in, then use this time to build an enormous stash of video. You can never have too much video.

I recommend having video stored away just in case a coach asks for something specific. Oh, you want a video of me blocking a baseball? Here it is! Oh, you want a video of me fielding ground balls at shortstop? Here it is!

Create your stash now. Of course, you can’t get game video right now…but no one can! Use this time to bank video. You’ll almost certainly use it at some point.

  • PREVIOUSLY, I WROTE THIS: I would prepare all of my emails and save them as drafts.

UPDATE: With the NCAA’s decision to give all division one and two players a year of eligibility back, some of the fog has lifted (though, it’s still quite difficult for coaches to assess their needs and rosters). While coaches are still having a hard time figuring out which players are returning and not, they have a better idea now that the NCAA has made this decision.

Because coaches have a better idea of what their rosters *may* look like, I think it’s safe to send emails out to coaches during this COVID-19 quarantine.

Having said that…for those of you interested in emailing top baseball programs, you may want to wait on those schools. Programs with a hefty number of potential draft picks are going to have to wait and see what MLB decides to do with the draft. You can still send emails to these schools, but your response rate may be even lower than normal (even with the response rate from these schools already starting at a low percentage).

If you have any questions about this update, please email me.

ballerbuilder@gmail.com

  • I would use this time to gain strength and athleticism.

You may not have access to a cage. You may not have access to a field. But you have access to time, and you have access to your body.

There are so many workouts and activities you can do to get stronger and gain athleticism at home. Don’t believe me? Just google, “Workouts to do from home during coronavirus” and you will get hundreds of results. Also, there has never been a better time to go outside and be active. Hiking, swimming, playing in the yard, etc. are all “social distancing” activities. Take advantage of this time and keep your body ready.

I want to reiterate that you are not “falling behind” in the recruiting process during coronavirus. But, I do think these things will help you line up the dominoes so when opportunity arises, you aren’t trying to get your act together…you already have it together, and you’re ready to take advantage of it.

Do the hard work first…wait patiently in the tall grass…stay vigilant…and when opportunity arises, jump on it!

I remember having no idea what to put in an email, or even the subject line. I didn’t know how to make a recruitment video, and I struggled gaining attention from coaches. In junior college, we formed a calculated strategy that worked like magic. I earned a scholarship to Mississippi State after hitting .208 my freshman year at the University of Oregon.

Join my email list to learn more about how you can gain attention from college coaches and simplify your recruiting process. (And don’t worry, I only send 2-3 per week so it’s enough to chew on, but not enough to clog your inbox).

In addition, feel free to email me with any questions you have regarding your personal recruiting process.

ballerbuilder@gmail.com

Master the Psychology of the Recruiting Process — increase your email response rate and create a massive list of options

It’s time to expose this topic. Before now, it’s been virtually untouched.

The psychology of the recruiting process.

“What does that even mean,” you ask? I know, it’s a new conversation for most. But I’m going to turn over every stone, and it’s going to be integral to your recruiting campaign.

Yes, tactics are necessary…how to send an irresistible email, how to make a top notch recruitment video, what showcases to attend, etc. Trust me, we’ll get there. But without understanding the recruiting process as a whole, these tactics are going to be misplaced and misused. This is where the psychology of the recruiting process comes in. 

{ The following colored section is a 2-paragraph version of my crazy recruiting story. If you’re thinking, “What makes this guy qualified to speak on the recruiting process?”, go ahead and read it. If you want to judge the quality of the material yourself, skip to the next non-colored paragraph. }

I’ve had quite the route through college baseball…2 division one schools (University of Oregon and Mississippi State University), one junior college (Orange Coast College), one medical disqualification (United States Military Academy at West Point), one arm surgery, lots of mistakes, and some unbelivably cool moments. And I’ve gone through the recruiting process twice (maybe even three times depending on how you view it, but that’s a story for another time). 

The first time through the recruiting process, we spent thousands of dollars traveling to every showcase you can think of and struggled to generate much interest at all. My emails landed on deaf ears, and my recruiting campaign was sporadic at best. We were disappointed with how the process went. So when we got the opportunity to go through the process a second time, we made sure to have a calculated, thorough strategy to ensure success. The system worked, and I earned a scholarship to Mississippi State, even though I had a statistically disappointing season the year prior (so you can’t credit it to the stats from the previous year). 

Why is this important for you to know? Because if I can do it, you can do it. I’m not God’s gift to baseball. I never was. But I was good enough to play in college, and I leveraged my strengths to make up for my weaknesses. Marketing yourself to college coaches is an art…an art I had to learn the hard way. Now, I’m sharing everything I learned so YOU don’t have to learn the hard way.

Quick expectation setter: this article is thorough. But I assure you, every sentence is necessary. I didn’t make it long to look smart or gain credibility. It’s long because each line is incredibly important to your success. And no worries, I broke it up in sections to make it much easier to read.

Here’s a key to the section colors:

Grey – A new section that’s important to your recruiting success.

Green – An ultra-important section that I think you’ll especially like.

Blue – A list is coming!

Orange – A line that packs a punch. Blunt truths, controversial comments, and everything in-between!

Okay, enough of this introduction stuff. Let’s get to why you’re really here.

Play a Different Game

You’re frustrated with your high school coach because he’s been unhelpful in the recruiting process. You’re tired of traveling out of state frequently for showcases and tournaments that you aren’t even sure are helping you gain interest from college coaches. You’re frantically sending out emails but getting little to no response. You’re reading every article out there and watching every video but nothing seems to be helping. You are beginning to wonder if you are even good enough to play college baseball and you start to doubt yourself. Your game suffers from this lack of confidence and you begin to play poorly. You doubt more. You play even worse. You look on with envy at players who are generating lots of interest knowing full and well that you are better than them. You panic. You start trying everything under the sun to see if anything at all will work. And then you repeat the process. 

Does this sound familiar? I know it does for me. 

I’ve been there. The recruiting process is a high stakes game. Theoretically, you can go to that school you’ve been following your entire life, live out your dreams of playing college baseball, give yourself the opportunity to play professional baseball, save thousands of dollars with a scholarship, meet friends for life, be a proud alumnus, and get some cool gear. That’s a heck of an opportunity. There’s a lot on the line…I get it.

But so many players spend their time thinking like the person I described above. They’re playing the game like it’s a rat race. They’re peddling as hard as they can but they have no plan, no idea where they’re going, no idea how to get there, and they try to do the whole thing with doubt lingering on their shoulder. I’ll be straight with you…this is probably not going to work out well for them. 

I did this the first time I went through the recruiting process. We spent thousands of dollars over a few years travelling to every showcase and tournament you can think of. Some of them were beneficial, but most were just expensive. I sent hundreds of emails that never got responded to, and I got led on by coaches who were not that interested. I dealt with doubt and uncertainty. I wasn’t even sure what I wanted at the time. My first recruiting campaign was incredibly difficult and disappointing. But the second time I went through the process…

I generated interest from dozens of college baseball’s top schools in just a 4-month period after having a statistically dismal season the year before. How did I do it? 

I learned to master the psychology of the recruiting process.

That may sound scammy and vague, but it’s the truth. In later emails, I’ll show you the specifics of how to create an amazing initial recruitment video and how to increase your email response rate DRASTICALLY, as well as many other helpful bits. But before we get to the “tactics,” we must first understand how we should be thinking about the recruiting process. The tactics will only get us so far.

You need to play a different game than everyone else. If you’re a good player, then you’re in high demand. Know your worth. 

Remember: college coaches need you as much as you need them. NO ONE talks about this. But more on this later.

The point of this article is to get you on the straight path, to get you thinking like someone in control. Your recruiting process is YOURS. You control it. You plan it. You handle it. 

Treat it like it’s your baby. Nurture it. Be confident in your ability to take care of it. Enjoy it. 

While everyone else is running a rat race, you’re going to be calm and collected, running your own, calculated race…like a ship gracefully handling the enormous waves of a storm, unphased, steady on the path…with you at the helm, driving the ship. This needs to be your mentality. I’ll show you how. 

Self-Reliance

The first time I went through the recruiting process, I relied heavily on my high school coach and the leader of my travel ball organization. Any guesses as to how that turned out for me? 

Not well. 

My high school coach wasn’t able to get me many leads or opportunities, and my travel ball coach was uninterested and disconnected (ironically). I depended on other people when, in reality, I could have done it on my own. 

Looking back, the important question to ask is, “Why did I rely on other people?” 

There were 3 MAJOR reasons:

  • Reason Number One: I didn’t know what to do or how to do it.

I didn’t know how to take a recruiting video, or send an introduction email. I didn’t know how to market myself properly and show my value/worth. I wasn’t sure which showcases I was supposed to go to or what travel team I needed to play on. I didn’t know how often to email a coach or how to negotiate a scholarship. I didn’t know, I didn’t know, I didn’t know. 

Luckily, we learned from our experience the first time, and made significant changes in our approach the second time. The results were incredible. In future emails, I’m going to show you exactly what we did and how we did it. You won’t have the “I don’t know” excuse anymore. 

  • Reason Number Two: I was worried that even if I tried my hardest, it still wouldn’t be enough…that I needed my high school and travel ball coach to be effective and helpful.

I kept telling myself that there was a secret club that I wasn’t a part of…and I convinced myself that these other people were a part of it, and if I did certain things, they would be able to help connect me with people I wanted to connect with, but couldn’t because I wasn’t a part of the “secret club.” 

But this was a complete myth. The second time through, I realized that I didn’t need a mediator between me and the college coach. I could talk directly to the college coach, and it would be MORE effective than going through a mediator (high school or travel ball coach). They don’t have some secret sauce that you don’t have, and they aren’t a part of a club that you aren’t a part of. You don’t need them. 

  • Reason Number Three: It was easier to let someone else do the work for me.

While I wanted to play college baseball and was willing to put in hours upon hours developing as a player, I didn’t spend the necessary time creating a quality list, sending emails, sharing video, etc. that was required to succeed in the recruiting process. It’s easier to pay someone a lot of money to do it for you and hope they can make magic happen. This also conveniently takes the burden off your shoulders and puts it on someone elses. It gives you someone to blame. But if you do this, you must know that you are still to blame for depending on someone else when you could have done the work yourself. 

The truth is that you don’t need some huge organization to take your video for you and connect you with college coaches. You can do all of this yourself, and you can do it just as effectively. I’ll show you how. But it takes a lot of work. The system I used isn’t magic. It isn’t a pill. It takes lots of time and effort. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you will almost certainly see results. But if you cheat the system, you’ll be like everyone else in the rat race, and you’ll be disappointed with your results. 

The things I’m going to talk about going forward are not for everyone. Some people are going to read it and say “that won’t work.” Some are going to read it and say “that’s too much work.” And a few are going to read it, apply it, and be happy with the results. 

You’d be surprised how few people choose to do the work that’s required to be successful. No one is successful by chance.

You may have other lies you are telling yourself…reasons you can’t do something or reasons why this system won’t work for you because your situation is “different.” Cold, hard truth: it’s almost certainly not. 

Learn to recognize the doubts and fears that creep into your psychology and crush them right away. There’s almost always a solution. Do the work to find it. Do the work to flesh it out. Do the work to put it to bed so you can actualize your goals. There’s always going to be another reason “not to.” Stop looking for it.

Don’t rely on other people. I promise you, you can do this on your own. There’s no problem with asking others for help. In fact, this is a necessary part of the recruiting process. But don’t RELY on other people. Don’t put all your eggs in their basket. Hold your own basket, and and dish the eggs carefully and precisely. 

It’s YOUR recruiting process. Take a hold of it. Own it.

This is a Business

I did not learn the point I’m about to make until I got into professional baseball and looked at my college experience in hindsight. Professional baseball is a business. Yes, I have the coolest job on the planet. But at the end of the day, the Angels don’t exist to make MY dreams come true. The Angels exist to win championships and make money. That’s it. “Jack Kruger” is nowhere in the Angels purpose. As I looked back on my college career, I realized something pretty obvious that I never took into consideration…

College coaches get paid to coach and recruit for a living.

Their ability to feed their families is directly coorelated to how well they recruit players and develop them. That’s their livlihood. That’s everything to them. And for whatever reason, I missed this when I was trying to get recruited. 

I kept thinking that they could just “take a chance on me” and it wouldn’t be a big deal if it didn’t work out. But that’s not even remotely true. The truth is that they must recruit good players, the right players, and the best players they possibly can in order to keep their jobs and provide for their families. 

So why am I telling you this?

If this is true (which it is), then the recruiting process is a BUSINESS DEAL.

Tens of thousands of dollars are at stake. Career advancement opportunities are on the line. Coaches are always thinking about how they’re going to feed their families, just like the rest of the world. Salaries, health care, homes, and lifestyles are up for grabs. 

The recruiting process is a very serious thing, even if it’s masqueraded by dreamy goals and cool gear. 

You must treat it like a business deal. A coach’s job is to fill a role that will help his team succeed. Your job is to show why you are the best person to fill that role. It’s that simple. 

Coaches are not there to make your dreams come true, and you’re not there to make their dreams come true. They need a position filled, and you’re there to fill that position. 

This has SIGNIFICANT implications for the recruiting process.

Why?

Because it means your recruiting process is a marketing campaign.

Let’s say you have a problem you need solved in your life. You’re dying for a certain product to be made that solves this problem. However, nothing has ever been made to solve this problem. Secretly, without you knowing, a company makes the most incredible product to solve this problem. If you knew about it, you would love it! But, the company has a terrible marketing team, and you never find out about the product. Is it your fault you didn’t know the product existed? 

OF COURSE NOT.

It’s the company’s fault. They didn’t do a good enough job of putting the product in front of the RIGHT people who were interested in that product and who were DYING to have it.

This is recruiting in a nutshell. College coaches are looking for an amazing product. You might be that amazing product, but if you don’t market yourself properly and put your product in front of the people who most want to buy it, then the product (you) is going to flop.

Every move you make in the recruiting process matters. If you’re just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, you’re probably going to be disappointed with the result. Don’t leave your future up to chance. Form a plan, and stick to it. Put the work in. I’ll show you how. But it takes meticulousness and hard work. There may be another way that requires less work, but I don’t know of it. I know a way that works, but it requires time and energy on the front end, and provides results on the back end. 

Part of being a good marketer is keeping your valuable skills at the forefront of your conversations. If you have size on your side, say so. If you throw 95, say so. If you hit bombs, say so. If you run fast, say so. On the other hand, if you don’t do something particularly well, don’t lead off with that. You don’t need to hide it from the coach, but let him find out about it on his own. Let him see the value you have before he sees your areas in need of development. It’s easier to justify weak areas if you’re convinced of the strong ones first. 

Keep your most desirable traits in the ongoing conversation.

You’re Not the Only One in Need

Remember this…college coaches need you just as much as you need them.

They have to put a team on the field. They must find good players to fill gigantic holes in the roster. They are desperately looking for the perfect fit for their program. And, ironically, while they have an enormous pool of players to choose from, it can often make it hard for them to find the players they actually want. You can be the oasis of value in a desert of incompetance. 

This is great news for you! This means that if you market yourself properly, you’ll be the diamond in the rough. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb. You’ll be the piece of meat that the coach has been salivating and waiting for. Think of it like this…if you prove to him you have value and show him exactly WHERE he can find your value, then you’re doing him a favor. But it takes work to make this happen. I had coaches thank me for the exact system I’m sharing with you because it made their life easier. One coach (from a large, division-one University) said, “I wish everyone was doing what you are doing. It makes my life so much easier.” By providing value and showing coaches where they can find your value, you are doing them a huge favor.

Coaches do not own the recruiting process. You have a right to it just as much as they do. If you are good enough to play college baseball (or division one baseball), then you have enormous value. You are in the driver’s seat.

This attitude should bleed through every action in the recruiting process. There’s no need to be arrogant (in fact, this will hurt you). But with every email you write, every video you send, every showcase you play in, every conversation you have…let your confidence reign supreme. This is YOUR recruiting process. Not your dad’s. Not your friend’s. Not your coach’s. Not the college coach’s. It is yours, and yours only.

In your conversations with coaches, remember that you have enormous value. If you don’t like the way you are being treated, you have two options:

  • The first is that you can call them on it.

You can say you don’t like how a certain situation is being handled. Make sure they know you are okay with walking away and finding another school. You don’t want to appear desperate. Don’t give them the opportunity to yank you around. 

  • The second option is to actually walk away entirely.

You are not subjected to endure a stranglehold from a coach. In a future email, I’ll tell you the story of how I had planned to visit a great baseball school (ranked in the top 15 schools in the nation at the time), but felt disrespected and turned the school down. They were floored. They couldn’t believe it. But they were being flaky, and I didn’t like it. I knew my value. So rather than obey their every demand and jump through all their hoops, I trusted my value, pursued other options, and when their season ended early the following year, they ended up watching me play on TV in a super regional.  

You have value. Don’t let coaches tell you otherwise and treat you like dirt. I have stories of coaches who did yank me around and I let them. I have stories of coaches who yanked me around and I didn’t. I have lots of stories, many of which you will hear in future emails and learn lessons from that saved me thousands of dollars and won me numerous scholarship opportunities. 

College coaches need you as much as you need them. Act like it. 

You Only Need One Fish to Bite

I mentioned before how you have to be willing to walk away from a bad situation. If you get the feeling that a coach is leading you on or being untruthful, say something. And if it gets bad enough, move on. I say this because remember that while we are in pursuit of many options, we are ultimately in pursuit of the single best option.

Hypothetically, you only need one school that you love to give you an opportunity. The only reason we try to accumulate as many opportunities as we can is so that we find the BEST one. So while I will recommend seeking out as many options as possible (in future emails), I will emphasize the importance of a QUALITY list…schools that both represent a serious possibility of interest and that you really like. 

A list of 100 schools that you don’t like and that aren’t interested in you does absolutely nothing for you. A list of 3 schools that you love and that love you is INCREDIBLY VALUABLE. Think about this while you are creating your list. 

Yes, we’re going to make a massive list. Yes, we want lots of options. Yes, we want scholarships. But ultimately, we want true, meaningful opportunity, and we can only get that if we are in pursuit of the single best option. 

You only need one fish to bite. Be selective about the fish you catch. 

Intermission

Okay, let’s take a breather. We’ve talked about many different ways to master the psychology of the recruiting process. I’ve been brash and blunt. I could sugar-coat things for you, but that would not be helpful. I sugar-coated my own experience the first time. It did not go well. It wasn’t until I finally got real about the chinks in my recruiting armor that I started to see real results.

At this point, your mind is probably racing with thoughts about your recruiting process. I highly recommend that you take a break and let your mind digest what you’ve read. Think through some of the things I’ve talked about. Do an evaluation…how do you think about the recruiting process? What’s your mindset? What are your strengths in your psychology right now? Where do you think you could improve? 

Before continuing to read on, make sure that you have had some time to reflect on your own experience. Mastering the psychology of the recruiting process isn’t easy. If it was, it would be the norm. But it isn’t. This means it will be easier to stand out, to set yourself apart from the rat race that’s taking place. 

When you feel like you have a good grip on your strengths and weaknesses, continue reading. But remember, it’s not about how fast you read through the article. It’s about how well you apply the psychology we’re talking about. Focus on comprehension and application, not speed. 

If you want more specific tactics to improve your recruiting campaign and generate a lot of interest from colleges (i.e. how to send an irresistible email, everything you need to know about making a recruitment video, etc.), join my email list. It’s free. (Link at the bottom of this page)

Let’s keep going.

Knowing What You Want

It’s impossible to find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Each player is unique. We all have different hopes and dreams, different things we’re looking for in a school, different things we’re looking for in our college baseball experience, etc. You have to think about what’s important to you. 

Here are just examples of questions you want to be thinking about:

  • Where in the country are you willing to play? East coast? South? West coast? Anywhere? 
  • Are you looking for a strong academic school, or is this not a priority for you? 
  • Are you wanting to play division one baseball? Or are you looking to keep your experience more low-key?
  • What schools are within your talent range? 
  • What extracirricular activities are important to you that you could continue at that school? 

The possibilities for questions like this are endless. Find out what’s important to you. Figure out what you want, and then go after it. Of course, take what you want and then find schools that are attainable regarding your talent level and academic scores. If you are not a good student, avoid the Ivy league schools. If you aren’t the best player on your high school team, you’re probably not going to get a scholarship offer from an SEC school. 

You have be realistic, and yet, it’s okay to shoot for the fences, too. Just make sure you are emailing plenty of schools at and below your talent level to ensure success of some sort.

The other thing I’d urge you to do is keep an open mind. When I first started the recruiting process, I closed myself off from lots of schools because I didn’t like the name of them or hadn’t heard of a school before. Don’t let your ego get in the way. There are so many great schools out there that aren’t in the main headlines every day. Do your research and talk to people. Get the lay of the land. Figure out what you’re working with. Your perfect fit may not be the one your friends are talking and dreaming about. 

You may also find that your interests change throughout the recruiting process. You might begin by looking at academic schools, but soon come to find out that you are looking for something a little more laid back. This is normal. Continue to check your recruiting pulse and see how it’s behaving, then alter your actions accordingly. You may find that you end up somewhere completely different than you planned in the beginning, but that you’re extremely happy with where you’ve ended up. 

Dealing with Failure and Rejection

One of the most important parts of the recruiting process that you’ll need to master is the art of dealing with failure and rejection. 

Luckily, you should have lots of practice doing this already. Baseball is a game of failure. You are going to fail much more often than you are going to succeed. So, you should already have some strategies for handling failure. The trick is carrying these skills over to your recruiting campaign. 

In future emails, I’m going to recommend messaging tons of schools. This is not a novel idea. This is simple math. But, we do this because we intuitively know that most of these schools are not going to reply.

There are a million and one reasons a school won’t reply. They might not be interested. They might have lost your email in the batch. They may be busy. They may not be recruiting your class anymore. The coach’s computer may have broke. His email may have shut down. You don’t know. This means that you are probably going to feel “rejected.” 

Here’s how you should think about it: when a coach doesn’t respond, it’s not that he’s not interested, it’s just that he has a lot going on. Give him some time to get back to you. And if he never does, don’t worry about it. Just move on to the next school. He’ll be sorry he missed his chance on you. 

Remember that you don’t need every school in the country to respond back to you. You only need a few that you are really interested in, and that are really interested in you. It’s not the quantity of your list, it’s the quality of it. 

Another place where failure is going to creep into your process is at showcases and tournaments. When you spend a lot of money to travel to a tournament and know that there are going to be college coaches there to watch you, the pressure can mount. You want to play well more than anything else in the world. And sometimes, that’s not going to happen. You’re going to have off weekends at the worst times, and you’re going to feel like you missed out on great opportunities.

I’m going to say something controversial, and it’s going to make a lot of people mad. But I tell the truth, regardless of how it makes you or other people feel…

Playing well at showcases and tournaments is not that important.

It’s just not. If you’re a big kid, with a great swing, and a good head on your shoulders, but you had a bad weekend, chances are that a college coach is not going to hold that against you. They know that everyone has off days, weekends, even months. It’s baseball.

Now, it certainly doesn’t hurt to play well at these tournaments. You can do yourself a lot of good by having a few extra base hits or making a diving play. But if you have an off weekend, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve even had coaches say they loved the way I played during a weekend where I didn’t get one hit. It’s the way it goes. Remember that they’re looking for players they can DEVELOP into solid college players. They’re not expecting you to be an all-american right away. 

Take the pressure off. Play loose. Give it everything you have. Show your best stuff. And at the end of the day, let the coach decide if you had a good weekend or not. His answer may surprise you. 

Failure and rejection are always going to be a part of the baseball world. Whether it’s on the field in high school, in the recruiting process, or in professional baseball, you’re never going to escape this lifestyle. Surrender to it. Don’t fight it. Challenge your psychology to view pitfalls as positives, and to build your story one game, one at-bat, one email at a time.

You’re Not Behind in the Recruiting Process

When my recruiting campaign began to take off in junior college, I started sharing some of my tactics with my teammates who weren’t having much luck generating interest from 4-year colleges. Many of them were receptive to the advice I had given them, but struggled with one particular thought: is it too late to start? Am I behind in the process?

The quick answer is, no. It’s not too late. 

The longer answer is that the earlier you start, the more time you have to build momentum and create a massive list of schools. But this doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck if you’re starting the process later than others.

In a future email, I’m going to tell you the story of how I had ZERO school options in July of the same year I was supposed to start school in the fall, and ended up getting a scholarship to the University of Oregon (when my my first phone call with them was IN JULY OF THAT SAME YEAR). 

You may be wondering what the heck happened. It’s a crazy story for another time. I’ll share it with you eventually because I learned so many lessons from it.

The point is, it’s never too late. You’ll increase your chances by starting earlier, but you shouldn’t be paralyzed to start at all if you are starting later than some of your teammates. Baseball is messy. Players get hurt. Players fail classes. Players drop out. Players transfer. Coaches get fired. There are a million reasons why a team’s situation changes last minute and they find themselves in a panic trying to fill a spot they didn’t know they had to fill. You can be their saving grace. It’s not too late. 

Thinking your behind in the recruiting process is just another psychological hurdle. It means you’re probably focused on what can go wrong and how the cards are stacked against you, rather than seeing the upside of the opportunity and controlling what you can control. Can you control the injuries on a college team? Of course not. But you can control your recruiting campaign so that when those injuries occur, you are smack dab right in front of the college coaches eyes. It’s not your job to play general manager. It’s your job to have all of your dominos lined up in a row so that when an opportunity presents itself, you’re waiting in the wings like a lion in the tall grass ready to pounce on its prey.

Last Words

  • “What are the odds of getting a scholarship?”
  • “Am I good enough to play college baseball?” 
  • “What if I market myself but nobody wants me?”
  • “Is it too late to begin my recruiting campaign?”

These questions (and similar ones) are very common. Everyone wants to know what will happen if things go wrong, if things don’t work, if things don’t go according to plan. But what’s really going on here? 

Ego. When you ask questions like these, you’re psychology is protecting your ego. You want to know the odds of getting a scholarship because you don’t want to put in the effort if the odds aren’t good. You don’t want to go all in on a recruiting campaign because you might not get any interest and your pride will be shot. You want to know if it’s too late because you don’t want to actually find out if it is. 

You’re asking questions that will save your ego, but not save you thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of dollars and give you the experience of a lifetime. Don’t give your ego that much power! 

Rather than asking what will happen if things don’t work out, ask yourself what might happen if things DO work out. The truth is that no one can tell you if you’re good enough to get a scholarship or not. It’s subjective. I had tons of coaches who told me I couldn’t play division one baseball. I did. I had tons of coaches tell me I couldn’t play in the SEC. I did. I had tons of coaches tell me I would never play professional baseball. I am, currently. No one has a crystal ball. One hundred coaches may reject you, but if one (just one!) thinks you’re a good fit for his team, you’re in. That’s all you need.

You don’t need validation from me. You don’t need it from one hundred coaches. You need validation from one single coach in order to play college baseball. That’s it. Stop asking me if you can get a scholarship if you only throw 84. Are you good enough? I don’t know…send emails out, make a recruitment video, go to a couple showcases or tournaments, talk to coaches, etc. This is the only way you will find out. One coach may say, “No, you’ll never play division one baseball throwing 84.” Another may say, “I think we will be able to add a few mph on your fastball, and we love your command. We think you’ll be a good fit for our program.”

You just don’t know.

Don’t pull the parachute before you even jump off the cliff. Look, let’s say you go all in on a recruiting campaign, and nothing comes of it for you. This is the worst case scenario, right? But is it really that bad? 

Sure, you may not get a scholarship and you may not even be able to play college baseball. But at least you live the rest of your life knowing you gave it everything you had. You exhausted every option. You learned valuable lessons about how to communicate with people and how to sell (or not sell). You played alongside some amazing players and got to spend valuable time with friends. You made connections in the baseball world that might allow you to work in the baseball world even without playing college baseball! 

The truth is that the worst case scenario is not all that bad. But not going all in because you are protecting your ego and missing out on the experience of a lifetime (and saving thousands of dollars) is THAT BAD. What are you waiting for? Stop asking people for approval to go for something you really want.

What psychological questions do you need to attack in your head in order to get out of your own way? Don’t run from pain, run through it.

When you feel like you have a good grip on the psychology of the recruiting process, then you can start playing around with the tactics. What makes a good email? What makes a good recruitment video? What showcases should I attend? 

In future emails, I’m going to cover all of this. I’ve gone through the recruiting process twice. I’ve played in the Pac-12 and the SEC. I’ve played junior college baseball. Heck, I’m playing professional baseball now. All of these things didn’t happen by chance. I worked hard, put in the time, honed my strategy, made adjustments, failed a lot, succeeded some, and now I want to share all of that with you. My email list is completely free. You lose nothing by joining it.

VERY IMPORTANT: When you sign up, I’m gonna send you an email to say hi. If you don’t see that email in your inbox, check your spam/junk/promotions folder and dig it outta there!

How to make a compelling recruiting video for $0 with your iPhone — *everything* you need to know about video in the recruiting process

There have been hundreds of articles written and videos made on creating the “perfect recruitment video.” I’ve read and watched almost every single one of them. I’ve gone through the recruiting process twice. The first time, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no plan, and it showed. I had very little interest from colleges and couldn’t get any traction from my emails, despite being a good player (I now play professional baseball). The second time, we devised a plan, my campaign grew like wildfire, and I earned a scholarship to Mississippi State, even though my statistical numbers from the previous year were unimpressive (I hit .208 with 1 homerun). Video was a huge part of my success. It’s essential, but contrary to public opinion, it doesn’t have to be difficult. 

Here are a couple things I know to be true about video in the recruiting process: 

  1. Most of the information being passed around about how to make a recruitment video is not good. Some of it is fine, but most of it is BS. 
  2. Very few of the articles explain EXACTLY what video to take, how to take it, how to edit it, and how to upload it. Many of them are vague and leave you with more questions than you had when you clicked on the article (trust me, I know. I went through it, too). 
  3. Video is essential in your recruiting process, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult thing. In fact, it’s relatively simple. I’ll show you how. 

Your Most Pressing Questions, Answered

Let’s start with your most pressing questions. Your questions are probably similar to the ones I had when I was first learning how to navigate the recruiting process. I’ll give a brief answer to each one to show you that it will be worth your time to read the rest of the article, and then I’ll dive deeper into each one and some other tips after the FAQs. 

Do I need professional video equipment? 

Absolutely not. I’m going to go as far as to say that if you’re using professional video equipment, you’re doing it wrong. I’ll show you how to do it with an iphone. 

How do I edit the video?

This is one of the reasons we use the iphone…it makes editing and uploading the video easy. In less than 5 minutes, you can remove the unwanted beginning and end of your video to make it cleaner and more concise. I’ll show you how to do this below as well. 

What exactly do I show in the video? What do college coaches want to see?

College coaches want to see if you have good enough movement patterns to be developed into a college baseball player. They are not expecting you to be college-ready right away. They’re looking for a swing or windup or a fielding position that they can work with and develop. Fill your video with as much valuable movement as possible. Don’t send wasted swings or defensive reps. More on this later.

How long should my initial recruitment video be?

A maximum of 30 seconds per skill (hitting, defense, pitching). Each of these skills should be an individual video. (i.e. 30 second hitting video, 30 second defense video). 

Should it be game footage or is practice footage okay? 

If you have valuable game footage (footage you believe BEST showcases your skills), and the footage is clear and visible, feel free to use that. If you don’t have game video that shows your best skill, then using practice footage for your initial recruiting video is completely fine. In fact, it may even be advantageous since the coach will be able to see more swings than a one-swing game video. This is not a make or break question. Don’t lose sleep over it. We’ll cover this more in a little. 

What should the caption of the initial video be? 

List your name, the skill you are showing, (if it’s game footage) the team you’re playing on and the team you’re playing against, and the date. 

ex. “Jack Kruger Hitting | OCC vs. Cyprus | 4/21/2015 (<— If it was game footage)

ex. “Jack Kruger Defense | 4/21/2015 (<— If it was practice footage)

The Power of Video

In order to make your video effective, you have to understand why video is important in the first place. You need to know what the pain points of college coaches are and then you need to address them. You want to make this as easy on them as possible. The easier the process is for them, the more likely they are to view your video or follow up. So you must ask: what is the purpose of video?

At the most elementary level, college coaches need video because they can’t be everywhere at once. They don’t get the opportunity to watch every player live, right in front of their eyes. It’s not financially feasible, and they don’t have the time. So, video is the next best thing. It simulates watching a player live. This means that your video should closely resemble the experience of a college coach seeing you play live. Everything they want to see when they come to watch you play live is everything you should include in your video (don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you hanging. We’re going to talk about what coaches want to see in your video). 

You may think that great stats are going to carry the weight, but the truth is that stats only go so far. High school stats don’t necessarily translate to success in college, and college coaches know this. In future emails, I’ll talk about stats and which ones you should include in your emails. But for now, I want to focus on video. Coaches are more interested in the movements you make when you hit and field a ground ball because they want to know if they can develop you into a reliable college baseball player. 

College baseball is focused on two things: development and winning. You may have been able to hit high school pitching with your current swing, but that swing may not translate to hitting college pitching. Video is important because coaches will be able to determine in just a few seconds whether you are either ready for college baseball or can be developed to be ready for it in a couple years. This is why video is important: it’s a better indicator of your college baseball performance than high school statistics.

Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty.

Who should take the video? 

You don’t need to hire someone to take your recruitment video. If it’s part of some package that a showcase or tournament offers, then that’s fine. But, you shouldn’t be hiring a freelance videographer to take your video. There’s no need for that. Your mom, dad, sister, brother, friend, girlfriend, teammate, or even coach can take the video. My dad took almost every single video I posted. The others were taken by teammates or assistant coaches when he couldn’t be at a game. 

I’m going to suggest that you take your video with your iphone or android phone (it’s very easy to edit and upload the video from an iphone). This is convenient for the person taking the video because they most likely will already have their phone on them. If your mom or dad isn’t at the game, maybe your friend can fill in for them. If your friend can’t make it, ask one of your teammates to take the video. 

If I were you, I would ask your coach if it’s okay to have a teammate use a phone to take video of you during the game. If they say no for some reason (which they might), I’m going to propose something radical… have your teammates do it secretly. I wouldn’t normally endorse something like this, but video is necessary to the success of your recruiting campaign. The coach almost certainly won’t notice, anyway. 

What gear is required to take the video?

An iphone or android phone. 

That’s it. That’s literally it. 

You don’t need special equipment or a nice camera or a laptop or fancy editing program. You only need your phone. I’ll show you.

3 Tenets for the Initial Recruitment Video

The 30 Second Rule

Your recruitment video shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds. A college coach isn’t going to watch more than 30 seconds of a video. If you want to send a hitting video and a defense video, make each one of them 30 seconds long (or shorter if you don’t think you need the full 30 seconds). I had some videos that were 10 or 15 seconds long. 

There are more advanced techniques to video that allow you to send longer videos (like full at-bats), but I’m not going to dive into that now. This article is specifically about the first video you send to colleges to see if they have interest in you. And this video shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds.

No music/creative editing

This one is self-explanatory. Don’t put music over your video. Don’t put creative editing or colors on top of your video. Send the most plain, easily visible video you possibly can. Keep it barebones. 

Provide value

That sounds scammy and vague, but it’s the truth. Your video should showcase the value you have as a player. Every part of your video should emphasize your strengths. Send the best swings you took that day. Send your best defensive play. Show the college coach how you can provide value to his program. That’s what recruiting is. He has a job to do, a position to fill. He wants to know if you can fill that role. Show him you can with your video. 

Taking the Video: The Angle

Your video is supposed to mimic a college coach watching you play live, right? This means that you should take the video from an angle where a coach would stand to watch you play. Now, every coach is different. They all have unique preferences of where they like to watch a game. But, it’s universally understood that you want to see hitting video from the open side view angle (If you’re a right handed hitter, the first base side. If you’re a left handed hitter, the third base side.). This is the optimal angle to review and dissect hitting mechanics when the video is slowed down. 

Multiple angles is always best, but make sure the optimal angle (that we just discussed) gets the most time in your video. 

There isn’t a rule of thumb for taking video of defense, though. Simply be sure to give the coach a clear view of the play being made, including the throw across the field. 

If it’s a pitching video, then it should be filmed similarly to a hitting video…film from the open side of the pitcher (Right handed pitcher, third base side. Left handed pitcher, first base side). In addition, you should take video from behind the mound so the coach can see the movement of each pitch.

Taking the Video: The Content

Your video needs to show how you can provide value to a college program. Fill the screen with your very best skills. If you’re using game video, it’s not necessary to include the entire at-bat where you swing and miss a couple times or complain about a call in the middle of the at-bat. If the at-bat is two pitches and the video is under 30 seconds, it’s fine to use that as your initial recruitment video. But coaches are really only looking for the swing. They’re not super interested in watching you run down to first base UNLESS you’re really fast. Then, you should definitely include it in your video because it’s one of your marketable skills.

I used to use videos of line outs, but I would cut the video almost immediately after the swing. This way, the coach saw the swing and saw that the result was a line drive, but didn’t see the outcome. He doesn’t need to see the outcome. It’s not important to him. He wants to see the swing. 

If you’re using practice video, give them a few swings to look at. Remember to keep the video under 30 seconds. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting front toss, BP, or off a machine in the video. You should be filming from the side, anyway. The coach won’t be able to tell, and honestly, he doesn’t care. He’s only looking at your mechanics. Your cage bombs won’t impress him. Good movement patterns will. 

Let’s talk about game film. There are a few advantages to using game film. The first is that it’s real. It’s not a controlled environment. There are several variable factors that you have to account for when you perform in a game, and this can be valuable information for a coach. The second is that game film allows a coach to see your general feel and comfort for the game. Are you comfortable in the box? Are you confident on the mound? How is your body language? What do you look like in comparison to the rest of the field? 

The third is that certain positions can better showcase skills in a game. This is true of catchers. So often in practice, catchers will cheat on their throws to second base. This can be misleading for a college coach and make it difficult to properly evaluate the skill of a catcher. However, if you send video of an in-game throw, it will give the coach an accurate reading of your ability to throw as a catcher. 

Keep in mind that certain positions should be highlighting important skills in practice videos. For instance, outfielders should showcase their arm. Middle infielders should showcase double play feeds and turns. Catchers should show receiving, blocking, and throwing. If you’re a pitcher who throws out of both the windup and the stretch, include both in your video. 

Editing the Video

Luckily, the iphone makes editing video very easy. I don’t have an android phone, so I won’t be able to speak directly to the editing on that phone. But there are a million videos on youtube of how to edit a video on an android. I’m sure it’s just as easy on an android phone as an iphone.

I’m going to spell it out for you, just for those of us who are a little more technically challenged. I’m technically challenged, and this is so easy that even I can do it. 

Once you have taken your video, find the “edit” button.

It will then show you a screen of your video and a timeline of your video at the bottom with an arrow at the beginning and end of that video. If you press on the arrows one at a time, you can drag the video to have it begin and end where you want it to. Do this for the beginning and the end of the video, removing any footage you don’t want (someone walking in the frame, a bad pitch, a bad swing, to cut the time to 30 seconds, etc). 

Once you have your video edited as you want it, click the “Done” button in the bottom right corner. 

 

It’s going to ask you how you want to save it (as the original video or as a new clip). I usually save it as a new clip so I can always go back and change the editing of the original video if I want to.  

Boom. You have your edited video. It really is that easy. 

Uploading the video

Now we need to upload your video to Youtube. 

I will be showing you how to do this on an iphone, not an android. (Again, there are hundreds of videos on youtube of how to take video on an android. It’s similar to an iphone). 

After you’ve signed into the Youtube account you want to upload it to, click your account profile in the top right corner. 

There will be a big red button with an arrow pointing up (for upload). Click that button. 


It will redirect you to an upload page where you will need to click on “Select files to upload.”  

It will then ask you where you want to find those files. More than likely, your edited video will be in your “Photo Library.”

Choose the video you want use and select “Choose.” Youtube will then process your video. When it’s done processing, you will then write the title and description for the video.  

For the initial video, a description is not necessary. Don’t feel compelled to write something if you don’t have anything you feel is vitally important to know when watching the video. I recommend leaving it blank and letting the video speak for itself. 

Finally, click “Publish.” It’s most likely in the top right corner of your screen. Your button will be blue when the video is done processing (mine is gray in this case because I took the screenshot before it was done processing). 

Boom. Done. Simply copy and paste the URL of the video in your emails to coaches. It’s that easy. The editing and uploading of the video should take you no longer than 15 minutes or so. Modern technology is a wonderful tool. Use it.

Examples and Last Thoughts

You now know everything you need to make a great initial recruiting video. If you have a question that wasn’t answered, feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you. 

In future emails, I will be talking about other ways of using video to enhance your recruiting campaign.

In addition, all of the video I created and used for my recruiting process is on Youtube. Search “Jack Kruger Hitting” and go to my Youtube channel, “Jack Kruger,” to see every recruiting video I’ve made. See the note below before you do that. 

***NOTE: My sister played Division 1 softball at the University of Pittsburgh. She used the SAME SYSTEM and it worked well for her. This works in both the baseball and softball world. So, keep in mind that she has lots of recruiting videos on there as well. You may have to dig a little to find my videos as hers are more recent.***

 Most of my videos are from junior college when I learned how to market myself properly. Notice, some of my videos break the 30 second rule. There are even some other tricks I use in those videos. These are more advanced techniques and strategies that I have not discussed with you yet. Don’t follow suit. Stick to the 30 second rule for your initial recruiting video. 

Last thought…focus on the details. A scholarship is a business deal. Every move you make in your marketing campaign makes a difference, either positively or negatively. Every detail matters. Get the very best footage of your very best movements and show the college coach exactly how valuable to him you can be. And then, in return, test his value and make sure that his college program is valuable to YOU. Recruiting is a two way street, even if it doesn’t feel like it. College coaches need you as much as you need them. But more on this in future emails. 

If you want to learn how I earned interest from over 30 schools and landed a scholarship to Mississippi State after hitting .208 with 1 home run, join my email list. It’s free. 

VERY IMPORTANT: When you sign up, I’m gonna send you an email to say hi. If you don’t see that email in your inbox, check your spam/junk/promotions folder and dig it outta there!