Travel baseball for high school players comes down to one goal: Get seen by college coaches. Yes everyone wants to win, but the main point of traveling all over the country and spending thousands of dollars is to help get exposure to play at the next level. Today I wanted to discuss what players should look for in a potential college. Many players simply choose the best baseball team with the most recognizable name. While the caliber of the program is important, there are many factors that players should assess before committing to a school.
1. Right fit on the field
Choose a school where you will have the best chance to play and develop as a player. Whether you are a top prospect being contacted by SEC and ACC schools, or a kid who cold calls division 3 coaches, you want to find a school where you can get time on the field and develop. Look at the team’s roster. Look for schools who have upperclassmen starting at your position. This will likely give you the best chance to get on the field earlier in your career. If a school has a freshman starting and producing at your position, it will make it much harder to beat them out for a spot as a newcomer.
2. The Right Fit Academically
As much as I would love to see every player that I work with go on and make a living playing baseball, the sheer fact is that most won't. The senior year of college will be the end of the road for most players on the field, and then it is time to start a career outside of the game. While you don't have to, and probably shouldn't know for sure what it is that you want to do after baseball, spend some time and really consider what that future might be. Make sure that there is a major that you would be interested in studying. This is a mistake that I made when looking at schools. I had no idea what I wanted to do and just chose the school where I felt the most wanted from the coach. I thought my best guess as a senior in high school was physical education. However, the school that I went to didn't offer it and I just pushed that aside and thought that I would figure it out later.
Some kids want a small environment where they can know most of the kids on campus and some kids want a huge school where 100,000 people go to Saturday football games. Think about what type of environment you want. While baseball will consume much of your time as a college student athlete, there will be a good portion of time where the rest of college life will be very important. Picture yourself not playing baseball. Would you be happy at the school if you suffered an injury couldn't play baseball?
The Not so Obvious
The reason I wanted to write this article was for this final point. Make sure you really know what the program is about. Not just what their record was last year or who got drafted from there, but know what the coaching staff’s philosophy is. This means that if you are a hitter who has been successful working on driving the ball in the air and trying to work on an incline path to the ball, make sure you don't go to a school where the coach is advocating hitting the ball on the ground and chopping down on the ball. If you are a pitcher and you know that weight training has helped you increase velocity, don't go to a school where the coach doesn't think pitcher should lift. I have had many players who fight for four years against stubborn, misinformed coaching staffs and it can make for a very frustrated player.
The best way to learn this information is to go to camps that are held at the school and talking to players at the school. This should give you a good idea of what the coaching staff emphasizes.
All in all, there are a lot of choices out there for players aspiring to play college baseball. When considering your options, go through this list and ask yourself some of these tough questions to help determine which schools might be the right fit ratchet than simply choosing the most recognizable name.