Slappers

Learn from one of the SEC's best, India Chiles. Like Part I, continue to view Part II and III for more great tips!

1. Look like a hitter
2. Get to the front of the box - the difference between safe and out
3. Contact when front foot lands
4. Erasing chalk line at practice to make sure you are getting to the front of the box
5. Progress forward - cover some ground
6. Stay closed - get plate coverage
7. Angle toward shortstop on crossover step
8. Keep hands above the ball
9. Take knob towards pitcher
10. Firm wrists up at contact



W.I.N.

W - What's
I - Important
N - Now

Winning is more than a score at the end of a game, it is a lifestyle of prioritizing. There are so many different things you can worry about, like where you are going to go to high school, what friends you will have, what kind of car will you drive, where will you go to college, what major you will have. These thoughts are perfectly normal all in due time. It's time to start thinking about your future, but thinking about it at the right time and always remembering, "what's important now.".

Are you in middle school? If so, what is important now is to enjoy school, sports, and a social life. Take the time to prioritize school and sports, while still having a social life. Parents...this is not the time to worry about college. Have your kids enjoy being kids and having a love for everything they do. That is what's important now in their lives.

Freshmen....what is important now is getting that solid foundation of a GPA in high school. It is easy to maintain a high GPA when you have a good starting point. It is harder to work your way out of a hole. It is also time to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse. This will make it easier moving forward as a recruitable athlete.

Be involved in as much as you can and work on staying athletic. Make sure you have a primary and secondary position and refine those skills going forward. Again, what's important now is GPA and honing in on a primary position, while still being a kid.

Sophomores now is the time to start thinking about what your interests are academically and athletically. It is also time to register for the PSAT's. What is important now is maintaining a solid GPA and practicing taking those standardized tests that are required in the future.

It is also a good idea to visit as many schools as you can that may interest you. If there is a school on the way down or back from a tournament, stop by and check it out. It may give you some great insight as to what you like and do not like about some schools.

Go on unofficial visits if you can afford to. It is a great way to get a feel for schools and teams and where you could possibly fit into the culture and dynamics. Remember, the team that is there now will not be the team that is there when you play.

Juniors, this is your year! What is important now is to take that really high GPA, the athletic ability you have maintained and set yourself up for success. Take the ACT and SAT as many times as you can. Some schools allow you to combine different sections from different dates to make up as high of a score as possible. Give yourself the opportunity to score as high as possible.

Athletically, make sure you have narrowed in on some schools that are your top 10. Be sure to keep in contact with the coaches. Get a feel for if the coaches are going to offer or not. The process is all about you...take advantage of it. Coaches get to recruit everyday. As a student athlete, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Go at your pace and get everything you have ever wanted out of it. Get the offer and then go home, talk it over with your family, and those who are most important to you. Make sure it is the right fit. There is no rush to this decision. If a school really wants you; they will wait a reasonable amount of time.

Once the decision is made, commit!

Seniors, uncommitted or committed. It is not too late! What is important now is to maintain that GPA, keep playing!! This is not the time to take off and rest. Stay in shape and continue to work on your game and improving your skills.

If you are uncommitted, trust the process. Know that there will be a place for you, regardless of it is a walk on position somewhere.

If you are committed, go on the official visit and enjoy every minute of it. Sign your NLI in November or April. Make sure to savor that moment. It is truly a unique opportunity!

Overall, if you consider W.I.N. in everything you do, in every moment, you will enjoy the process, you will stay the course, and fulfill your dreams of becoming a college athlete. What's important now is to enjoy being wanted by some school out there :)

Invest in your Future

Let's face the facts.....softball is expensive! When you calculate the amount of money spent on team fees, equipment, hotels, food, and everything else that goes along with playing multiplied by the number of years you play; it is an astronomical amount of money. It is an amount that most likely surpasses your future college tuition. The questions remains, where should you invest your time and money. For the most return on your investment, you should attend the big exposure tournaments in your area, attend as many camps as possible, and get a quality hitting/pitching/etc specialty coach.

The great thing about the exposure/showcase tournaments is that they are widely known. Most colleges go to the same ones annually The most highly attended are the Bay Area Showcase (Sunnyvale, CA), Surf City (Huntington Beach, CA), Triple Crown (Colorado), PGF Nationals (Huntington Beach, CA), Ronald McDonald (Houston, TX), Diamond 9 (Orlando, FL), On Deck Camps (various locations),and  Rising Stars (Las Vegas, NV). If your team is attending these tournaments, regardless of the field assigned; there will most likely be a coach at one of your games.

The benefit to attending these tournaments is investing where you know coaches will be. This isn't the highest return on your investment because there is no guarantee who will be there, for how long, and if the coach will see something that catches their eye in the amount of time they watch.

A way to guarantee exposure and that money is being well spent is to attend camps. Target your list of schools and attend their individual camps or camps that have multiple college coaches in attendance. The money you are spending attending these camps at least gives a guarantee of exposure.

Camps give the most return on your investment because players are getting high amount of reps and working directly with college coaches. At a tournament, a coach may show up to a game and you may not get a single ball or you may get walked three times at bat. At least when you attend camps, the money is being spent where coaches can see the players and their skill set.

A players skill set is always something that can be invested in. Finding a quality instructor in your area for a specific skill set is worth investing in. a pitching, hitting, fielding, catching, etc. coach is worth it. Players need more than a couple days of practice to refine their skills. Getting an extra day or two a week of one on one training is worth it.

Make sure the person is reputable and is not ripping you off. Ask for an individual lesson. Group lessons are great, but they are not going to get you the most bang for your buck. Lessons should run anywhere from $40.00-80.00 and hour. If you are not sure about someone's reputation and if they are a legitimate, call a local college coach or ask for references and find your answers. 

Overall, you should attend a few major exposure/showcase tournaments, attend camps, and get quality instruction in lessons. That is where your money needs to be spent. It does not need to be spent traveling every weekend to every tournament, where no one is. Invest in your future. Be smart and spend where there will be the biggest return on your investment, big exposure/showcases, camps, and lessons!

The Dos and Don'ts of Social Media

Social media is one of the best and worst things ever to come into existence. It is a great tool for so many different avenues, if one knows how to use it properly. The problem is most do not know how to use it properly and therefore can be more harmful than good. The main components and some suggestions for dos and do nots would be when it comes to posting statuses, photos, or hash tagging.

Statuses are most often times indicative of the type of person one is. If a person is constantly posting about how life sucks and nothing ever goes right; the perception is going to be that the person is negative and will suck the life out of everyone around them. No coach, boss, or anyone else needs that around.

Instead, make sure to post about what a great weekend one had out on the ball field, or about being a great teammate. Post about the latest accomplishment one had at school. Post about anything that is positive in one's life.

Also, when posting, make one sound like an educated person. There is nothing worse than reading a bunch of profanity and misspellings, poor punctuation, and abbreviations for everything. Start putting it out to the world that one is an educated individual who can think of other adjectives than profanities, knows the difference between the yours and the theres, and start writing things out. It might take an extra effort to type out, "for" or "two," but it is better than trying to decode every word that is on a post, which can sometimes lead to confusion or misrepresentation for lack of knowing what everything stands for.

Start to find different ways to describe things. Use words one has never used before. Then when it is all said and done, use spell check!!

Another misrepresentation would be in photos that are posted online. Every picture that one takes and tags another person in, most likely can be viewed by someone out there. There is no reason to be posting underage drinking pictures, pictures where it looks like one is partying all the time, too revealing pictures, and the list goes on. Nothing about one's photos should deter a coach from saying "yes" to having one on the team. Perception is reality folks, so if there is a picture where alcohol is in the background and everyone has a red cup in it; most would assume one is drinking, just due to association. Coaches have enough problems to deal with when the players get to college, they do not need any other liabilities prior to a kid getting on campus.

Post pictures of family, friends, wins, losses. Post about team get togethers. Post pictures of oneself in a positive light. Pictures can capture a million memories, make sure to get the good ones!

Along with these pictures, comes hash tags. Be conscious of what hash tags one places on statuses or pictures because those images and phrases are automatically linked to a group of hash tags now. Any inappropriate tags from one's posts will lead directly back. Again, this is just a poor reflection of what, in reality, might not be so.

Get a grip on what is being put out there for the world to see and the perception it allows to be portrayed. Do not let one be denied a spot on a team, a scholarship, or any future plans because of the lack of control one has over social media. It is a real life thing and a place where most can do a background check prior to ever meeting or speaking to a prospect. If it is not under control now, go and edit it and get it under control. It is never to late to change the perception one gives the world!

Compete

When coaches go to showcases nowadays, it is all about showcasing certain athletes and giving every player their fair share of time. That's crap!!! Go back to the days where pitchers pitch a full seven innings, and there is a straight nine or ten in the lineup and no courtesy runners. It makes no sense to continue to practice these poor habits of limited innings, altering the game, and playing on time because when players get to college; they are not prepared.

Limiting innings is the biggest mistake that can be made for a player growing up and trying to improve their game. Pitchers, catchers, infielders, and outfielders alike all suffer from rotating throughout the game. Players get a limited number of balls per position per game as it is. When players rotate every couple innings to the bench or to another position; their chances are that much more slim and exposure and skill development suffer.

Pitchers get to college these days and can only throw 3-4 innings because they are only conditioned to throw that much. Catchers are not conditioned to be in the heat, squatting with gear on for a full seven innings for multiple games in a row. Middle infielders and outfielders lose focus after a couple innings because they are not used to being locked in for that long in a game.

The real game has seven innings, nine in position, and nine in the batting lineup. There are certain rules that must be followed. Why does the game change so much from summer ball to college?

A batter should not be able to be up seven times in one inning because a coach is there to watch. Courtesy runners every inning for a pitcher and catcher make no sense whatsoever. In college, a player can be ran for one time a game. Coaches are doing a disservice to pitchers and catchers by not allowing them to run in game. They lose all their instincts and base running skills. When these players get to college, they are having to be retaught all these skills that could have been mastered at such an earlier age, had all players and coaches stayed true to the game.

Staying true to the game, would mean that all teams and tournaments play out seven innings in full. Although, not practical for all the big tournaments with a ton of teams; it would be nice to see a full seven played. Players get to see the game being on the line and the pressure that the game can bring when seven innings are being played and it is not based on a time limit.

Challenge one as a player and one's team to stay true to the game and see if one can play a full seven innings. See how the game plays out and start competing for championships, rather than for an hour and twenty minute time cap!

What Coaches Look For in Position Players

Every position has its aspects that coaches look for. Below, I have listed some basics that each position should have in order to increase one's chance of being seen and recruited by a college coach.

Pitchers
Overall, coaches look to see if pitchers have good fundamentals, speed, accuracy, and spin. Next, ask the following questions:

Does the pitcher have a pitch she has total command of and can throw for a strike at anytime?
Does the pitcher have a pitch she can locate one to two balls off the plate on either side?
Does the pitcher have a good change up that she can throw for a strike in any count??


Catchers
For catchers, coaches look for a quarterback, someone who is controlling the entire field. A catcher has to have a voice and the ability to control the pace of the game. Catchers must also have a strong arm, with a pop time (glove to glove) of <1.9 and that is on the high end. Catchers need to have a quick transfer (time the ball enters and leaves the glove) as well. Another skill to have is the catcher must be able to receive the ball and block the ball. A coach does not want to see the ball hit the back stop, no matter how bad the pitcher may be.

Corners
A corner must be low to the ground. A good rule of thumb is the closer to the hitter, the lower the player needs to be to the dirt. Catcher is the lowest, then corners, then middles, and lastly outfielders. Corners must have quick reactions, a quick first step. Corners have the responsibility to cover bunts and need to be able to get there quickly to throw out the quickest runners. Lastly, a corner must be quick to move laterally to get the hard hit balls that might otherwise go through those 3/4 & 5/6 holes.

Middles
The difference in a short stop and second basemen is arm strength, other than that everything is the same. A short stop has to have one of the strongest arms and quickest releases. Middles need to be able to have range and reach balls in the holes, lay out, get up, and throw a girl out. A really strong middle has both an excellent forehand and backhand. These players keep most of the balls on the dirt in the infield.

Outfielders
Outfielders need to have good speed and a quick first step. They must also have good angles to the ball. A quick first step and good angle to a ball is the difference between a ball being caught and a double in the gap. Outfielders must also have a strong arm. They must be able to throw runners out to any base in the air or on a one hop accurately.

For all defensive positions, players must be able to leave their feet for a play. That is a requirement for all positions. There are many other specifics to each position, but these are the basics that coaches look for in each position. If the above are all accomplished by a player at their position; than that player has a bright future ahead!! If these skills are not yet mastered, continue to work on them and get better. Players can always grow and get better at the fundamentals!

Good luck out there!

A Day in the Life

Most PSAs think that the transition from high school to college is going to be a piece of cake. What most PSAs do not understand is that this transition is one of the hardest in their lives. College athletes are such a small percentage of the general student population because not everyone can be an athlete and uphold the demands and rigorous schedules that college athletes do. Maintaining school, softball, and a social life is sometimes far from easy.

A typical day of a softball player in the fall looks like this:

8 Hour Weeks:

Monday:
Class
Individual Workout - 30 minutes
Class
Study Hall

Tuesday
6:30-8:00am Strength and Conditioning
Class
Individual Workout - 30 minutes
Class
Study Hall

Wednesday
6:00-7:00 Strength and Conditioning
Class
Individual Workout - 30 minutes
Class
Study Hall

Thursday
6:30-8:00am Strength and Conditioning
Class
Individual Workout - 30 minutes
Class
Study Hall

Friday
6:30-8:30 Strength and Conditioning
Class
Study Hall

20 Hour Weeks:

Monday
Off

Tuesday
7:00 Strength and Conditioning
Class
2:00-5:00 Practice
Class
Study Hall

Wednesday
Class
2:00-6:00 Practice
Class
Study Hall

Thursday
7:00 Strength and Conditioning
Class
2:00-5:00 Practice
Class
Study Hall

Friday
Practice or Travel Day

Saturday
Games

Sunday
Games

It may seem easy, but when the athlete is balancing strength and conditioning, class, practice, class, study hall, eating, seeing friends, and sleeping; it easily can become overwhelming. My best advice is to stop relying on one's parents so much. Start taking responsibility for knowing one's schedule, where to be, when things need to be done, etc. Start preparing food, doing one's laundry, and taking on the responsibilities that one would have when away from home. The most prepared and players who have the easiest transitions are those whose parents have given them responsibility and did not do everything for them.

Try out the schedule and see if one can handle it and the demands it brings...now go put in a load of laundry :)

    

3 Tips for When Calling College Coaches

Calling a college coach can be nerve wracking and exciting all at the same time. What do I talk about? When should I call? The key is the have a plan, understand one is going to deviate from the plan, and know when to hang up.

1. Having a plan before one calls a coach is the main step. The plan can be that the first initial phone call is going to be an introductory phone call where one wants to accomplish getting one's name, position, accomplishments, and future schedule out. There is a plan and an ending goal to go by. Others might include follow up phone conversations where one wants to ask about academics where the specifics are a certain major, the requirements, graduation rate, etc.

The key in having a plan is knowing that there are topics of conversation to bring up. As a prospect making the call, it is one's job to fuel the conversation. The college coach is not responsible for filling the dead time with meaningless conversation because one did not come up with a plan.

Another thing to remember is, the PSA is making the call, not the parents. If one's parents have questions, make a plan together before calling the coaches. There is nothing worse than when a PSA calls and the parents are interjecting and the PSA is constantly going back and forth between parents and a coach. Go somewhere quiet and make the call. Tell one's parents that one will fill them in after the phone call. It shows a lot of maturity if the PSA can make the phone call by themselves. Remember, college coaches are just people, so throw the nerves out the door, remember to breathe, and stick to one's plan.

2. Deviating from the plan is inevitable. If one asks about a college coach attending a specific showcase and they tell one they will not be in attendance....it's on to plan b. Change the conversation to asking what showcases they will be attending or when their camps are because the main goal is one want to be seen by them.

Think of the phone call as an interview, depending on the college coach's answers is the direction the conversation is going to be head. With every answer, listen and transition to the following question or topic based on their answer.

Coaches know when a PSA has written down the entire conversation and is reading from a piece of paper. Be natural, breathe, and when the dead time comes...because it will....go back to one's plan or written down questions and get back on track.

3. Getting back on track and being on the phone for 5 hours are two completely different things. Initially, when one makes a plan and an ending goal is accomplished, the PSA can end the conversation and say I am going to continue to do my research on the institutions and call back with any future questions one might have. Think of how many PSA's are out there, time is precious to these college coaches and they are taking one's phone calls, usually after hours in their personal time. Be mindful of their time and know that it is ok to hang up even if it is after just five minutes.

End the phone call with something the coach will remember one by. Give them an interesting fact, allow the coach to get to know one as a person as well as an athlete.

When calling a coach, make sure the PSA is the one doing the calling. PSA's and parents can make the plans together, but once the number is dialed, it is up to the PSA to start the "interview" process. Start with a plan, know that the plan is going to be deviated from, and fill the dead time with the questions the PSA had initially. Once the plan ahs been fulfilled and the ending goal accomplished, say one's goodbyes and leave them with something to remember one by!

Good luck on those phone calls!!

Know Your Worth...in Scholarship Dollars

Your worth as an athlete is not dependent upon the amount of athletic aid one receives from an institution. So often, coaches, parents, and players get caught up in the money game, but it is time to start being honest about what one truly is worth as a player and if one is not happy with the number, seek other options to get college paid for, but in the meantime play for the love of the game and stop acting like it is a job. There will be plenty of time in the future for a job!

Now, here is the truth of the matter, at least for Division I. Division I schools, if fully funded, have 12 athletic scholarships. This means 12 full ride scholarships can be divided up between however many are on the team roster, usually 15-25. What that means is....not everyone is going to be on a full ride. So now that the secret's out...quit expecting to be a full ride athlete 100% of the time.

Now, for private schools and schools outside of California, most of the time, academic money is available. What this means is if a player is offered a full ride, but 50% is athletic and the other 50% is academic, there should be no offense taken to that offer. It is the same thing as having 100% of your school paid for, except you are actually helping the program by only taking half of a scholarship and leaving 11.5 left to divide between the rest of the team.

Academically strive to be the best student one can and score as high on the standardized tests, and one will be amazed at the money that one can qualify for.

All this being said, there is more to it than what meet the eye. If a school is only graduating one senior and that so happens to be one's dream school......understand this......you and everyone else who wants to go to that school is fighting for that one particular scholarship and you don't really even know what the percent that player is on anyway. That senior may only be on 20% total, so that is what the coaches can give out to the recruiting class that replaces that senior. In addition to just the available money, that graduating senior may be a third basemen, power hitter. If one is a center fielder, slapper, it might be really difficult to fit the mold of the senior that the school is trying to replace.

So, if one's dream school has no money to award, but offers a spot on the team; there are alternate ways to get school paid for. If playing college ball and attending school is a dream, do not let money stand in the way of that. There are so many scholarships that one can apply for and student loans that are available.

I know student loans are what everyone tries to avoid, but the truth of the matter is that they will allow one to get through school and when all is said and done, graduate, and find a job; then one can start paying them back!

My main message really is to know your worth as a player and if the dream is to play in college, do not let anything stand in the way. There is a place for everyone, no matter what the level.

2015 Graduates

Time has not passed. If you are a 2015, trust me, there are always colleges looking and some may still have money available. Every college has a different situation; they may have had a kid transfer, quit, or decommit, so there is money available late and unexpected.

Position Breakdown

Below is listed the order from the most amount of scholarship money to the least. This is not true for every school, but I would say it is the norm.

1. Pitchers
2. Catchers
3. Short Stops
4. Power Hitters - Game Changers
5. Middles - Speed
6. Outfielder - Speed
7. Corners

Just to reiterate, quit expecting to be a full ride scholarship. It is more rare than the norm. Double check your position on the depth chart as well and that will give you a good idea of how much an offer, if made, could possibly be. Lastly, like I have mentioned in previous posts, if one is playing for the love of the game, is coachable, and can run....there is a really high chance of playing college ball, just sacrifice and find a way to pay for it.

 

Are you Coachable?

The definition of coachable is the "capability of being easily taught and trained to do something better" (learnersdictionary.com). It is a word that is thrown around so often, but rarely with the emphasis and magnitude of its worth. To be coachable is one of the most rare but truly inspiring qualities. To play at the next level, coachability is the foundation to which growth, effort, and attitude are maximized to become the best player imaginable.

Players that are coachable have the highest ceiling of potential. A player that is average can turn into a good player and a good player can turn into a great player. It is all in the ability to take criticism and listen to the words and feedback of coaches and apply it to any task that is laid out. A lot of people believe they are coachable, but there is a big difference in listening to what a coach or someone has to say and really listening and applying what they say. The best players are the ones that can take the emotion out and hear the message.

With every message that is delivered, there is the choice made by the player whether or not to put forth the maximum effort at the next drill or any task for that matter. Effort is controlled by the player by understanding that being coached will only improve their game. If the player can put forth maximum effort 100% of the time, their game will continue to be constantly elevated.

Lastly, a a positive attitude is coachable. When a message is delivered and the immediate response is poor body language or a horrible attitude; that player's skill set will plateau. It's the players with the "ready for anything" mindset and "what's next coach?" mentality that will continue to improve. Those players are constantly seeking more and wanting to elevate their game. Their ceiling for gaining knowledge will never be reached because they always want to learn and know more. These are the players that come early and stay late, or the All Americans!

Overall, being coachable is a skill that not many have. When PSA's attend camps, this is the main skill that needs to be practiced. No college coach wants to hear about why you do not want to do the drill the way they are asking you to do it because your hitting, fielding, or pitching coach says to do it differently. Seek more knowledge, learn as much as you can from as many people as possible, and maybe you will be the next All American!! Attend every practice, game, camp, etc. with the expectation that one i going to grown and learn, put forth maximum effort, with a positive attitude!!

Are you coachable?

1 Guarantee to be a College Softball Player

 

The main skill to have that can guarantee you a spot on any softball team at the next level is quality base running. Below are a few tips that will elevate one's base running techniques:

1. Lead Offs

When leading off, it is important to come off the base as if one was stealing every time. The opposing team should never know when the runner is leading off or stealing. Next, make sure the runner is about a step and a dive away from the base they are leading off from. When getting to this distance one must be out quick and back quick. This means that the runner leads off hard and quick and then once the runner sees the ball through the zone, they quickly retreat to the bag.

2. Stealing

As a runner stealing, a good rule to live by is if "you are not early, you're late." This means stretch the umpire and try and get as big of a jump as possible. When stealing second, the runner should always slide tot he front, left, corner of the base (unless the ball has beaten the runner there). The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so the runner needs to slide straight into the bag. I recommend a pop up slide as to make it appear as though the runner has beaten the ball to the base and deceives the umpire into thinking the same thing.

3. Down or Round

This is a great rule of thumb to live by as a base runner. Unless the batter has hit a stand up double or a home run over the fence, a runner should always be down or rounding a bag. When a runner slides into a bag, strides are never broken and the runner can easily get up and proceed to the next base should an error occur. Rounding allows for the runner to see the play develop and then judge whether or not to advance or stay put. It also allows for the gap between the runner and the next base to be shortened, should an error occur as well.

4. Hesitate Stay Put

When base running, there are times as a runner we get caught up or second guess ourselves. The rule to abide by when this happens is, "hesitate, stay put." This means if there is any physical or mental hesitation, then just stay put because by the time the decision is made on whether or not to advance, the runner is late.

5. Always Want the Next 60ft

Lastly, but most importantly is always want the next 60ft as a base runner. If one can live by this motto, one will run and play anywhere in the country. Get to the next base anyway possible. Learn to read the spin on the ball, predict what the ball is going to do and react to it. A ball in the dirt or above the catcher's head, the runner should always be at the next base. An overthrow from an outfielder to an infielder, the runner should be able to take the next 60ft. When an infielder does not hold their bag until the ball gets back to the pitcher, take the next 60ft. An overthrow to first base, do not break stride; take the next 60ft. This rule will undeniably make the difference in winning and losing ball games. Getting into scoring position by taking advantage of defensive mistakes allows for one timely hit to score a run, rather than trying to give up outs to produce them.

All in all, if one can master these five steps of base running, one can play anywhere in the country just as a base runner alone. Mastering base running will definitely allow for a college coach to notice. It is an art that has been lost and not really taught much anymore. Practice base running and these steps will then become instincts, which are hard to find!

Know the Rules.....Initial NCAA Rules you Should Know as a Prospective Student Athlete

Phone Calls, Emails, Texts, Contacts, Verbal Commitments, & NLI's

What is the NCAA? The NCAA, or National Collegiate Athletic Association, was "established in 1906 and serves as the athletics governing body for more than 1,300 colleges, universities, conferences and organizations" (ncaapublications.com). Basically, the NCAA makes all the rules and regulations in which every univeristy, coach, and prospective student athlete must abide by. A few rules every PSA should know about regarding Division I only (Division II and III are different) are phone calls, emails, texts, contacts, verbal commitments, and NLI's.

PHONE CALLS:

September 1st of the PSA's junior year is the magic date. That means on September 1st of the PSA's junior year, they can legally receive phone calls, text messages, and emails from Division I coaches.

Before that date arrives though the PSA can make as many phone calls to any institution as possible. The best advice is for the PSA to text the coach prior to making the phone call, which will increase the chances of the coach picking up the phone. If that coach does not pick up, leave a message with a time the PSA will be calling back. Try calling the coach three separate times to get a hold of him/her. I would repeat this process once per week, especially if this is an institution that the PSA is clearly interested in attending.

TEXT MESSAGES:

Use text messages as a way to communicate at tournaments. If the PSA knows a college coach is in attendance, text the coach games times and field locations as those tend to be switched and rescheduled during the tournament. This will allow for the coach to know exactly where to find the PSA.

Another great use for texting is to keep a coach updated on highlights from school or softball. Make sure the coach stays connected with the PSA regardless if the coach cannot text back. They receive the message...believe me!

EMAILS:

Emails are used the same way as text messages; they really are just used to let coaches know where the PSA will be playing, game times, and schedules. It is also a way to formally keep a coach up to date on what is happening in the PSA's life. The only problem with emails is that most coaches are inundated with them and they might not always be read at all or on time.

CONTACTS:

Each coach is allowed to have three off campus contacts with a PSA. That means past July 1st of the PSA's junior year prior to starting their senior year, a coach can now communicate in person with the PSA and or their family. This can only happen on three separate occasions.

VERBAL COMMITMENT:

A verbal commitment can be made at any time in the PSA's career. Verbally committing to an institution is a verbal agreement that the PSA and the coaching staff of the institution agreed upon. It can happen when a PSA is in any grade and of any age.

NLI

An NLI, National Letter of Intent, is a document administered by the Collegiate Commissioners Association and used by subscribing member institutions to establish the commitment of a prospective student-athlete to attend a particular institution and the financial agreement. The NLI is sent out during one of two signing periods during the PSA's senior year. Once a player has signed an NLI, they are legally bound to the contract in it's entirety.

So remember as a PSA, one cannot receive any form of communication before September 1st of one's junior year. After that date has arrived, one cannot have any in person off campus contacts until after July 1st of the PSA's junior year. Lastly, a verbal commitment is just that and can happen at any time. The NLI is a document that binds the PSA to the corresponding institution and can only be signed during the signing periods during the PSA's senior year.

So you want to get Recruited? 3 Critical Steps to Success

So you want to get recruited.....wow, so does everyone else! When looking at the facts, there is about 7.8% of the total number of high school softball players that are competing in college softball and even a smaller percentage of those competing at the Divison I level (scholarshipstats.com).  If your dream is to play softball at the collegiate level, one must complete and master three critical things: target schools of interest, attend camps, and make oneself memorable.

1. Targeting schools is the most important part of this process. As a prospective student athlete (PSA), one must make a list of non negotiable items (i.e. major, location, weather, softball program, etc.) After this list is made, the PSA needs to do some research and find out what colleges have those non negotiable items and then start to narrow the search of schools. Once this is complete, the PSA has a better pool of schools to market herself towards and can then start the next step in the recruiting process.

2. The second step in the recruiting process is using the list of schools one has compiled and attending those college's camps or camps where those schools will be in attendance. This is important because it guarantees the PSA that those schools will be in attendance and have the opportunity to work closely with those coaches in sport specific tasks. Camps are also a great way to showcase one's talent and get on a coaches radar, so that when they are out recruiting; they will make it a point to come watch one play.

Again, this guarantees that one will be seen by those college coaches. When one attends a showcase tournament, there is no guarantee that a coach will show up to one's field at that specific time and see one play. The PSA has no control over games times and field locations, so if the PSA has horrible game times as well as field locations, the chances of coaches being there are slim.

3. Lastly, it is important to make oneself memorable when given the opportunity to be in front of a college coach. This opportunity to be seen at a camp cannot be taken likely. Be the loudest one on the field, hustle in and out of the dugout, to the next drill, or even to get water. Ask questions to the coaches. This is the PSA's opportunity to have any and all questions answered by coaches that are on the PSA's targeted list. Take advantage of the opportunity. The more the PSA can engage with the coaches, the more memorable the PSA will be.

Try these three critical steps and see how it can help in the recruiting process and potentially increase one's odds of playing at the next level. Target schools, attend their camps, and make oneself memorable when given the opportunity.

Happy Recruiting!