Scout Softball - College Softball's Scouting Service
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Without a doubt this is the question that we are asked most often. In order to understand the answer we're about to give, we have to take a look at how the process works for coaches first. The first thing parents and players have to understand is that entering the recruiting stage for players ia choice. You make decisions every single day that decide whether you're in the game or not. You've already made decisions this Fall that determine your level of involvement with recruiting.

The first thing to truly understand is that schools enter the scouting process when THEY WANT TO, not when you're ready. When they have a need at a position, they begin looking to fill that spot. When they do, they are competing against the clock and against the other 1,500 programs who could have the same need.

The truth is that when a school STARTS scouting your position and graduation year, if you haven't entered the game, then there is a very strong chance you won't be able to make up the lost time. Schools usually operate with a timeline. First, they SCOUT and secondly they RECRUIT. Here is how scouting works for a college coach.

Step 1 is they gather information on players from their sources, so they can decide which players they are going to INVEST in to watch play. Yes, I said INVEST. It costs them money, time and effort to watch you play. In the Fall, an assistant coach will miss a practice or a game sometimes to come watch YOU play. So, you better be worth it right? That's why they are so diligent in Step 1. In Step 1, video and history are the two things that help players get scouted. Video is the great equalizer in the process. When you can PROVE to a college coach that you can play at their level, they will make the effort to watch you play in person, or invite you to the Elite Camp on their campus.

At the end of the day, THEIR opinion is what matters the most. When they see you and think you can play, then they'll make the effort. I mention history as well. History means that college coaches like to recruit from sources of previous success. For example, Georgia State University has several Scout alumni committed or playing at their school. GSU has Scout All-American Ivie Drake, who was also an NFCA D1 All-American this year. So, when players express interest in GSU through Scout Softball, it makes sense that they will listen. This also happens with travel teams as well. It's much easier for a coach who has already sent a successful player to a college program to tell a coach about an upcoming player they should watch. There are great programs with a long history of sending players to schools you want to go to. Scout, for example, currently has more than 150 D1 schools who have given scholarships to players, so it's a very broad reach. Ideally, you are combining resources like Scout Softball with the great men and women who run great travel programs as well.

Time is a huge factor in this process. They may start scouting your position and graduation year with a specific timeline. Their history and experience may tell them that it will take approximately 9-months to evaluate enough players to make a great decision. Usually, this comes down to the Elite Camp. They may have an elite camp in October and use the 9-months leading up to October deciding which 5 players at a position they want to see on campus for the final audition. This is very common. You may think they start early, but when they've recruited their last 3 starting SS's at 15 years old, who all hit over .350, you can't deny they know what they're doing.

Again, the key here is that if you weren't in a position to be seen, then chances are you've missed out. The process starts whether you are ready or not. This doesn't mean they start looking at your whether you're ready or not. As I said earlier, you have to make the choice to enter the recruiting game. So, how do you enter the game and at what age should you do it?

We suggest that players start the process in the 8th grade. It doesn't have to be in the Fall, but they should start the process by the Spring of their 8th grade year if they want to play college softball at any level. That's the short answer and I'll explain in more detail below. So, how do you START THE PROCESS?

Well, the first step is to get pre-qualified and have the right tools at your disposal. The very first thing that a coach HAS to know about you, is do you have the skills and tools to play at their level? A coach needs to see a couple of things. The first is video. They want to see how you perform in competition with other talented athletes. That's why we film players at our showcase events, so coaches can see how they step up against quality competition, not how they handle dad hitting 100 ground balls and showing the best 10. Video allows you to be seen by any coach at any time instantly. They want to see you in a certain way though and we cater to that need.

The next thing they want to know is how do you compare to other proven athletes, when they were your age? This is where history comes into play. It's easy for Scout Softball to show a coach player comparisons. Our video archive helps college coaches compare your skill set to players who are already making an impact for their University. Many schools have multiple Scout alumni on their roster, which makes the process much easier for you to be the next.

What does an SEC 3B look like in the 9th grade? What does a D1 All-American Catcher look like in the 10th grade? These are all questions they can answer with Scout Softball. More importantly, they have access to detailed reports and information that allow them to fully understand how good a player really is.

As I mentioned earlier 8th grade is ideal. It's ideal for a few reasons. First, you make sure that you are in a position to be scouted and potentially recruited BEFORE ALL SCHOOLS have started on your position and graduation year. Some programs will start the process with 8th graders and some will wait. You want to make sure that you're not leaving any opportunities behind.

Secondly, a coaches job is to PROJECT how good you will be someday. The easiest way to do this is to show them improvement with video and with numbers. That's the part a lot of players and parents don't understand. They feel like if they're not perfect as an 8th grader a coach will cross them off a list and it's just not true. The truth is that if you wait long enough, the list of players they like will be too full and you're out of luck.

Showing a coach improved skills every 6-12 months on video is ideal. It's easier for them to project how you'll make the next jump in ability when they can actually SEE YOU GETTING BETTER every 6-12 months. It's easier for a coach to project when they have evidence in their hands.

Is it too late for a 9th grader, a 10th grader? Absolutely not, but we have to be honest. There are opportunities that have already passed them by. There are opportunities that will continue to pass them by if they don't do something about it soon.

Good luck in the process and feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have any other questions.

Mark Mulvany

President Scout Sports LLC - Director of Scouting - Scout Softball






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