USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.
It’s April. The days are getting longer and warmer. Summer is right around the corner and for most high school students the end of the school year is in sight. Families are making plans for the summer and for serious high school athletes that includes deciding on a summer team and/or showcases to attend.
In today’s world of competitive athletics how you spend your summer could determine whether you make a college roster, or continue your athletic career on the intramural fields. While many teenagers spend their summers on the beach, yours might be filled with long hours at tournaments and honing your skills in practice.
Summer is the time when college coaches can attend games and tournaments because they don’t have the time during the season. Playing on a summer team and/or attending showcases provide an opportunity for college coaches to see you compete and it shows your desire and dedication to your sport. Whether it’s select baseball or club soccer, summer is the time when you have a great chance to be seen and evaluated. For those reasons, your choice of the right summer team is important.
There are many things to consider when you’re deciding on your summer team and schedule. The organization and the coaching staff are critical and the makeup of the roster is important. Schedule and exposure are perhaps the most important aspects to consider. Plain and simple, you won’t be seen if you aren’t playing in front of the right coaches and college coaches probably won’t be at your games if you’re on the wrong team.
The organization and coaching staff
The leadership and structure of the organization you play for can be very important to a successful summer. An organization’s reputation and philosophy have to be considered. Are the goals of the organization the same as your goals? Ask some former players about the organization. Summer teams are a big financial and time commitment. Do your homework.
Perhaps more important than knowing the organization, you have to get to know the coaches for your team. Make sure you are comfortable with their personality and coaching style. Is he or she laid back and quiet, or intense and loud? There’s nothing wrong with either style as long as you can respond and play for them. What are their qualifications? Will they make you a better candidate for a scholarship?
Finally, a good coaching staff includes a coach willing to help you in the recruiting process. Your summer coach can be a difference maker in your recruiting journey. A coach willing to contact college coaches on your behalf speaks volumes about your abilities and character to a college coach. Don’t be afraid to ask this question before you commit to any team.
Where will you fit on the roster?
The right team for you isn’t necessarily the best team in your sport. You have to play to be seen and to get better. You will accomplish neither if you aren’t playing a significant role, even if it’s for the best team in the country. You certainly don’t have to be the very best player on the team, but you don’t want to spend the summer on the bench. If you do, you might as well spend the summer on the beach. The best situation would be where you have a great chance to compete for playing time, but the competition makes you a better player.
Ask the coach up front for an honest evaluation of your abilities and don’t be afraid to ask how you will fit on the roster. Get comfortable with your role and that you will be playing the position you project to play in college. You don’t want to spend the summer playing power forward if you project to be a point guard in college.
Schedule and exposure
One of the first things to consider about any prospective summer team is the schedule. The schedule needs to meet your personal expectations. For example, make sure any team you consider will be playing in the tournaments that make the most sense for your personal goals and situation.
Next, consider your exposure to college coaches. Review the team’s tournament and league schedules before you make a commitment. Take the time to research the events and make sure you will be playing in front of the right coaches. You should also ask about the practice schedule and location. You want to have the clearest picture of how you will be spending your time as a member of any summer team.
Here’s the deal
The right team is the one with a good schedule, a good coaching staff and one where you will have an opportunity to play a significant role. Remember, off-season play should be about exposure, but it should also be about getting better and meeting your expectations.