Looking for a baseball scholarship? Here are some steps you can take to get closer to that dream.
Any parent whose son has made the high school baseball team has probably entertained the thought that baseball could be his “ticket” to college. But before signing a check for another hitting lesson, parents should make sure they understand some fundamentals about the baseball recruiting process.
Most college baseball players do not have athletic scholarships. This is simply a matter of numbers. In the NCAA, 40% of schools are Division 3, which means that they do not give out any athletic scholarships. The number of scholarships at the Division 2 level is 9, and it is 11.7 for D1. That’s for the entire team. And not all schools fully fund their scholarships. At the D2 level, only 6% of men’s baseball players have a full scholarship, and 61% have a partial scholarship. If you’ve made plans to use baseball to pay for college, you might want to save some of your money for SAT prep in addition to hitting lessons.
You need to know the recruiting rules. Not knowing the rules doesn’t excuse a possible recruiting violation. Download the NCAA and NAIA rules, and if you have a question, call and ask. Understanding when (and under what circumstances) a coach can contact your son will help the recruiting process. You can also make sure that your son has completed enough core courses to play at the D1 and D2 level. Ideally, high school counselors should be keeping track of this, but you need to remain aware as well.
Your son should take the SAT or ACT in the fall of his junior year. This is just a matter of timing. The most common time for high school students to take their college tests is in the spring of the junior year; this is so that, if they don’t do well on that administration, they have another chance to take the test in the fall of their senior year (while simultaneously submitting their college applications). Well, in the spring your son is going to be playing baseball. This is not the ideal time to be taking the SAT.
One of the first things a coach will ask for is test scores. D1 and D2 coaches have to follow NCAA rules in terms of GPA and test scores combinations. D3 coaches will have conference and specific school rules to follow. In any case, as your son increases his GPA and test scores, he increases the number of schools for which he’s academically eligible to play.
You need an objective evaluation of your son’s skills. He may be the best player on the team but that doesn’t mean he’s good enough to play at the D1 level. An evaluation can be as simple as an evaluation sheet provided by a camp where a coach signs the evaluation. It could be video that shows ball speed or pop-times.
In many ways, this sort of evaluation isn’t so much for the coaches but for you. Having a realistic understanding of your son’s abilities will help you avoid putting him into a position where he won’t succeed. It allows you to spend time focusing on the colleges most likely to recruit your son rather than the ones that everyone knows about.
Your son, not you, needs to contact the coaches. You can use the information about his abilities, GPA, and test scores to help identify colleges he should target, but the coach needs to hear from him.
Ideally, your son should be filling out his own online profiles. The coach may not be able to tell the difference between the two of you, but doing this himself will make your son more comfortable with the process and familiar with the information coaches are asking for.
Your son, not you, needs to email the coach with his player profile and a link to video. Your son needs to follow up on that email with a call to the coach. If he’s like most teenagers and doesn’t want to do it, have him start with coaches of schools that are not at the top of his list — just for practice.
You can help your son come up with questions to ask the coach. They should be questions that aren’t answered on the website. The most basic question is what positions/skills is the coach recruiting for your son’s class. The website isn’t going to show the players that will be college freshman while your son is a high school senior. It may look like the team has only one catcher but it could well be the coach has just added three catchers for the upcoming class.