By: Austin Alexander - August 13, 2008
When college coaches and pro scouts begin making calls to prospective players or draftees, there are a number of variables that they weigh in on after they initiate the potential of a future partnership.
Understand this first: Players, no matter how good of a player you may be on your high school team, traveling club or how many prep accolades you have accumulated, you must understand that the recruiting/scouting landscape ranges from coast to coast and you are really just a blip on the broad radar of baseball talent.
Understand also, that there are a ton of tie-breakers beginning with your individual skills and how they project combined with your overall make-up how others perceive you.
With skimpy scholarship allotments already, roster spot limitations and the added variable of how the APR can penalize schools, plus the signing bonuses that Major League clubs put into players, you must be aware that they have to look through critical eyes because their jobs are on the line.
Having said all of this, here are a few tie-breakers that can go against a player that may find himself in a dead-tie for more scholarship percentage, roster spot, etc. Some of these we have touched on before:
-The length of your hair...Chicks may dig the flowing locks but scouts do not.
-How you wear your uniform...If you look sloppy, you probably practice in a sloppy manner too.
-How you enter and leave the ballpark...Look and act like you belong at the next level. Childish behavior and smooching all over your girlfriend is not endearing to professionals.
And the most prominent reason for writing the article, the art of returning and receiving recruiting calls/coorespondance...
Courtesy: First of all, if a coach or scout takes the time to do his job, and away from his family, to call you and leaves you a message, call him back, period. Even if you are not interested in the school that has called you, returning phone calls is still just a common courtesy in any walk of life. Most coaches are big boys and have heard "no thanks" before, it is far more frustrating and revealing of the individual when calls go unreturned. Trust me, you are not as busy as you think you are...return the call.
Phone Calls: Do not just use your first name when returning or making a call. Understand that the coach you are calling has received and made quite a few calls already during that day. Also during his tenure he has grown to know quite few people within the sport...Therefore calls originated or returned that begin this way, "Hey coach, this is Jason..." often times gives the coach zero indication as to who he actually has received a call from. It is highly conceivable that he has other players on his own team, in his personal past, former players, and/or other players in your recruiting class with the same first name. In other words, provide your last name and high school when leaving a message, for instance, "Hey coach, this is Jason Smith from East Ridge High School..." This lesson will serve you well long after your baseball days are over.
Addressing a parent: "Hey Mom, hang up the other phone"...screaming at a parent is never an attractive sign.
Ring tones: I'm not certain that any coach that lands in the age range of 25+ is going to be overly impressed with your selected tunes. I will go out on a limb and say most are just fine with hearing a normal dial tone versus "Baby got back and I cannot lie..."
Your voice message: Sound like you are articulate and can actually pass some classes at their school! Don't mumble or sound like you just woke up at 3 p.m.
Include your area code: Not everybody lives in your neck of the woods. In a given day, a college recruiting coordinator may engage in phone calls with people from 10+ different area codes. Don't assume he has your number in his phone or has all of his recruiting files readily at his fingertips. The tip here, just because the majority of your calls do not leave the county, rest assured, most of his do. Leave your entire phone number when talking to his voice mail.
Text messages: Text messaging has become a very popular and valuable resource in the past few years, but understand the difference between texting your best friend versus texting an adult. Text as though you are talking to him, don't assume that he comprehends all of the abbreviations and emogies that you and your peeps like to use.
I hope that some of these tips resonate with players who find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of the recruiting process. Never forget that even though you may be a heavily-courted player, little things that you do or don't do, can tip the scales into your favor or into the lap of another kid. Opportunities can be lost due to things you have never given a second thought to, attention to detail will always be a sure-fire way to win tie-breakers in baseball and beyond.