How to Get a Scholarship to Play Baseball

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Obtaining a college baseball scholarship requires a sustained effort on the part of the youngster and his family beginning early in the student-athlete's high-school career. Among the major sports, collegiate baseball has a limited number of scholarships compared to football and basketball. Kelly Kulina, former associate head coach and recruiting director at Maryland, points out that the NCAA restricts Division I baseball programs to a maximum of 11.7 athletic scholarships at a given time. In turn, the coach can allocate scholarships across the 35-player roster, granting a minimum 25% scholarship to a maximum number of 27 players.

Research

  • Familiarize yourself with the seven categories of schools fielding collegiate baseball teams: NCAA Division I, II, and II; Junior College Division I, II, III; and NAIA. By your sophomore year you should be familiar with the level of play and academic standards characteristic of each classification.

  • Investigate the scholarship opportunities available at each level. Whereas NCAA Div. II schools may offer up to 9 scholarships, NCAA Div. III schools can only offer academic scholarships, based not solely on grades but on special talents as well.

  • Begin the NCAA eligibility and amateurism certification processes. Start by visiting the NCAA website's Eligibility Center. There, you will find the publication, “Information for College-Bound Student-Athletes and Parents” and other useful documentation.

Development

  • Assess your academic preparation. All players must meet certain academic qualifications, including high-school grade-point average and standardized test scores. Keep in mind that the NCAA only counts core coursework (i.e., English, Math, etc.) toward the GPA. A strong academic record will distinguish you in a competitive field. With limited time and resources, coaches like hard numbers: GPA and test scores help you stand out and reduce headaches as they justify your admission to the school as a student-athlete.

  • Seek authoritative player-development mentors. Establish a relationship with a professional scout or collegiate assistant coach to work with you on an individual level. Major league scouts covering your geographic area may be more accessible than you think. Look up the scouting and development department of your favorite major league team in the “Baseball America Directory” and request the contact information for their regional scout. A scout can give you an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, and provide an evaluation which you can present to recruiters.

  • Challenge yourself against top competition. The resources listed below will refer you to hundreds of year-round opportunities for showcasing and improving your skills against tough competition. These events offer exposure to top-notch instructors and competition with top talent which will help you assess your development as a player.

  • Target the needs of college coaches. Everyone needs more pitching. Almost everyone needs a catcher. If you possess baseball talent, then you possess the arm strength to succeed on the mound. Maturity and mental training—simplifying the game, minimizing emotional responses—will make you an effective amateur pitcher.

  • Improve your mental approach to the game. How you react to success and failure---especially the latter---will leave an indelible impression on coaches and recruiters. Experienced baseball professionals understand that the laws of averages govern many of the events they see on the playing field. If you attain the wisdom that defense is about getting outs and offense is about getting on base and advancing runners, observers will take note.

Marketing

  • Set up a website to showcase your skills. Post information that showcases your strengths. Display videos that show how you prepare between and before games and highlights of in-game performances. Post statistics, an honest skills evaluation from your mentor, contact information, and academic information.

  • Strategically target schools. Narrow down your set of schools based on skill level, opportunity for playing time, academic fit, campus size, and possibilities for exposure to better your chances of moving on to the professional level or from a JC to a four-year college program.

  • Communicate with coaching staffs and make unofficial visits. According to Kulina, these steps should be taken by the student-athlete himself. Write an introductory letter to the coach and refer the coaching staff to your website. Follow-up with a phone call expressing interest in the program. Establish contact with the staff member who coordinates visits. Meet with a coach and a player and attend a practice, and also arrange the standard informational activities available through the admissions office.

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References

  • Photo Credit pitcher delivers a fastball image by CPonder from Fotolia.com fast swing image by Stormy Ward from Fotolia.com the pitch image by Bruce Shippee from Fotolia.com
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