Perception is Reality
The adage of “perception is reality” is often associated with marketing for business. How your organization is seen by the public is how people make their first impression of you. In the world of recruiting, you are your own company or product and colleges are the market. In this article you will be able to see what coaches look for immediately as well as in the grand scheme of making their decision on whether or not to discuss the possibility of you continuing your academic and athletic journey at their respective institution.
Oftentimes players will focus much of their energy into their skill set, do not misunderstand our message, this is crucial. Simply put if you are not throwing, hitting, running, and fielding at a certain level it can hinder your advancement in the game. However, this is not the whole picture they are looking at. Now let’s get into the other elements that coaches look for when recruiting a player.
Possibly the most important question we are asked when speaking to coaches about a prospective player is, “how is the athlete as a teammate?” When this question is posed, the college coach is not only listening for our answer but the way we answer. Did we have to pause before answering the question? Or were we able to respond with the immediate “yes” and were we able to describe what makes you a good teammate? Making sure they are recruiting players that will embrace and embody the culture they are cultivating or sustaining is crucial to the overall success of their respective program.
What you as the athlete need to ask is if you are doing the things necessary to ensure a coach never needs to pause before answering this question. We understand this can be difficult for athletes because they may not fully understand what it means to be a good teammate. When you have a difficult time with this it is important to reach out to your coaches and observe those that hold leadership roles or those that you see motivating the people around them. Be humble enough to accept that you may need help with this and learn how to be better. The idea of humility leads us to our next point and that is our grades and test scores.
Our grades and test scores give the coaches a glimpse into how you apply yourself off the field. Throwing another cliche at you, you are a “student-athlete” and student comes first. Below is a link to NCSA, a recruiting service, that helps outline some of the academic requirements for the different levels of college athletics.
What your grades and test scores tell the coaches and the schools is you will help to elevate the institution as a whole. By surrounding the program with athletes that will become successful members of society is what brings the perception of the team and school to another level. Having this strong alumni base perpetuates the ability of future players to have successful careers after college. If your grades and test scores are not at the level necessary to advance your career are you going to be humble enough to ask for help. This could mean getting a tutor, taking SAT/ACT prep courses, and/or once again asking for guidance on how to manage our time better to allocate to our studies.
The two points we have spoken to in this article give you a glimpse into elements of the recruiting process that are often overlooked by the athletes. At the end of the day you are looking to play college baseball (or softball) and that means there is an obvious on-field or physical element to the process. We are aware of the metrics that are often looked at for different levels of the sport but remember this is not a 1 for 1 comparison and just because you may not reach some of those metrics today does not mean you cannot make it at a respective level. This brings us to the final subject we will be discussing in this article, STRENGTH!
As a high level athlete your physical demands continue to increase and with that increased workload comes the risk of injury or an inability to sustain performance over a period of time. When it comes to strength, there is a space for overall strength but where we want to see athletes is once again looking at the whole picture. When an athlete can mix strength with mobility and functionality they can accomplish the movements necessary to compete with those added physical demands.
However, it is not just what you do in the weightroom that leads to your strength. Your body needs the fuel to recover and heal as lifting truly breaks you down as it builds you back up. This means we have to make sure we are eating the right things but most of all eating enough. Along with food, your body needs sleep and rest days to recover to build strength. We often hear young athletes very proud they are lifting weights 5 sometimes 6 days a week. When in reality a plan of lifting 3-4 days is more than sufficient. The days off give time for your body, specifically your Central Nervous System (CNS), time to recover. If your CNS is depleted by overuse it will not allow you to lift as hard consistently to build in the way you want. Once you are more physically mature you can get to 4-5 days a week of working out with a structured plan that still accounts for more movement-based training, to allow for the body to recover.
If you have taken the time to read and understand this message you are already taking the right steps to prepare yourself for the next level as a potential college athlete. Now your action plan is to reflect and be honest with yourself on whether or not you are on the path to accomplish these tasks. Are you always being a good teammate and proving you can elevate those around you? Are you taking the right steps in the classroom to put yourself in a position to handle the demands of college? Are you taking care of yourself physically to meet the demands of being an athlete at that next level? Lastly, are you humble enough to ask for guidance if you are not on the right path or not sure if you are on the right path? We hope this article helps to give you direction on whether you are taking the right steps to be a college athlete.
We here at Ignite aim to guide and develop athletes of all age groups. Our mission is to enhance an athlete’s ability to continue playing softball and baseball for as long as possible. If this article and others have helped continue to check out our previous articles and look forward to more in the future. We hope to see you in the facility soon!
Thanks for reading,
Director of Cadets Baseball and Ignite Trainer