Why College Coaches DO NOT RSVP By: Kim Gwydir – Founder FPOS

Where can I find a list of the colleges who will be at…..

I get this question a lot regarding recruiting camps I run and I know many tournament directors who are frustrated with the same question. Parents and players want to know what colleges will be at an event, but on the flip side, the college coaches want to know what players will be attending to assess if it worth their time to attend – so it is one big circle.

As a college coach (and I was one for 15 years), I often would not RSVP to a tournament I planned to attend. Why? Sometimes I was not sure until the last minute I was actually going to make the event but mostly I did not want emails from players who knew nothing about my school other than that I was on such a list for a particular tournament. It was always a surprise to find out, and this happened many times, that my school was listed on the tournament’s website as one that planned to be in attendance even when I didn’t have any attention of going. So as a parent and player, it is NOT smart planning to wait and see what coaches are allegedly attending a specific event before deciding if you will attend a certain event or recruiting camp. Likewise, it is not a good idea to only email college coaches who a tournament has listed as coming. The key is good communications and a single email to the attending coach list a few days before an event is a waste of time and many times not even read by the college coach. They, like the player should do, are planning ahead and know who they want to go watch.

I have heard this complaint many times, “We were at the showcase and no coaches came to our field”. I have worked with TCS Rising Stars, Elite Showcases in TX, USAElite Showcases in CT, and MSP in KS. These tournaments do a great job contacting coaches and making it enjoyable for coaches to come to their events. By this I mean they provide roster books, coach’s hospitality and other amenities to make a college coach’s life easier at the tournament.

This is KEY that I think many parents and players miss.

What the tournament, recruiting camp or both provides is a venue you, the player, to showcase your individual talents or your team – IT IS YOUR JOB TO CONTACT COACHES AHEAD OF TIME TO GET THEM TO YOUR GAMES!!!

Here is one of my experiences as a coach I would like to share. I was in Colorado for the big July weekend of recruiting tournaments. I was made aware of a player on a very unknown team who was playing on a satellite field (meaning not the main complex) in the Sparkler Tournament. I spent the morning driving down from another tournament, finding the field and watching the team. Although I decided not to recruit the player, the my point is I took many hours out of my recruiting schedule to watch one player because I heard from a reliable source that she was good fit for my program. I have always said – a coach will go to any field if they think there are players who can help them win!

If your team is well know and has a reputation for having good players it will help get college coaches to come to your games but if your team does not have that reputation than you need to be more proactive and contact the college coaches ahead of time.

Remember, just because a coach attends an event does not mean they will come to your game and see you play and, furthermore, NOTICE you perform. In a recruiting weekend I would see 100’s of players so just because I was at a game did not mean I noticed every player on the field. An example would be the USA Elite Northern Exposure Summer Showcase last year where there were close to 100 college coaches and about 1500 players…which player is a coach going to choose to watch?

The plan to get college coaches to watch you at a recruiting camp or tournament.

  1. Develop a list of colleges that fit what you want based on academics, geography, size of school and softball. Be sure to include all types of schools, not just NCAA Division I!
  2. Email these coaches and communicate with them regularly so when you do attend an event they already have a rapport with you.
  3. Email these coaches prior to the tournament and let them know you will be attending.
  4. In your emails provide a link to a skills video – it is one thing for a coach to get an email but another for them to see your skills. If a coach likes what they see then you are more likely to get on their “A” list of must see players.
  5. Email the same list of coaches and let them know your schedule and where you will be playing once the schedule is made available.

Remember to continue communicating with the college coaches on your list. Your skills in recruiting are the same as when you are looking for a job. Those that persist, do their homework and work diligently towards their goal will always be the most likely to succeed!

College coaches like recruiting camps because they are guaranteed to see a player perform their skills. Often times you go to a tournament game and you never see the player get a ball or take a swing. In a recruiting camp setting you are guaranteed to see a player perform their key skills for their position.

We all have limited time, players and coaches alike. But to find the right fit in a college as a family, players and parents must do their homework and work the recruiting process diligently from their end. Remember, not all showcases and recruiting camps are the same. Look for events with good reputations of year in year out getting college coaches to attend. Ask around; look at their websites to see what coaches have attended in the past. Most top level events will have a page like this – it is really the best gauge to see if a tournament will be more likely to get coaches out but really the reason a coach comes out is to see a player they want to recruit. Contact coaches early and let them know you are at the event.

Bottom line – if coaches are at the event but not at your field maybe you need to look at what you did or did not do before the tournament.

Featured post

What does a Division 1 Player Look Like?

by Kim Gwydir

I hear this comment often from travel ball coach regarding one of their players –  “she has a D1 body”. That comment made me think – is there really a D1 body or mold and did I recruit that way either knowingly our subconsciously?

Here are some facts I came up with

1) Big girls potentially hit the ball farther. If you have any doubts of this – just watch Keilani Ricketts the former  U of Oklahoma player  (all 6 foot 2 in) who with what looks like an effortless swing -bouncs the ball off the outfield fence. In turn, tall girls potentially pitch the ball faster and expend less energy doing it so they can pitch more and eat up more innings.

2) Talent comes in all sizes. One of my best homerun hitters in college was all of 5 foot 2 in tall. One of the best players ever out of south Florida who went to U of Alabama and stared at third base was only 5 feet tall.

3) I remember getting a lot of emails from kids 5 foot 3 in tall that played second base and outfield.

So what does all of that mean?

I think it is naturally for a coach to see a tall kid with a strong build and take notice because they are not the norm. But having a D1 body without the talent is not  going to help that coach win games. I know I took on a few “project” players in my career that had size and I hoped to develop them into D1 players. Sometimes it worked but more often it did not.

I also think there are some coaches who like to recruit a certain type of player. If you look at the coach’s team you will get a good idea if that particular coach has a profile of a certain type of player. What I think you will find is that the better teams at D1 find talent – and that talent can come in all shapes and sizes.

Now my last comment –there are a lot of 5 foot 3 in 2B/OF in the travel ball world. If you fit this mold then you need to do something to standout to college coaches. Remember, there are a lot of players trying to get recruited who are similar to you. If you fit the “average” profile when it comes to size – what can you do to stand out when it comes to recruiting?

1. Speed – I used to say “tall and slow I can deal with if she can hit – small and slow is a deadly combo”. Work on your speed and highlight it to college coaches. Speed can change a softball game and help you stand out from the crowd. Coaches like having “table setter types” who can steal bases at the top of the order and in the 9 spot.

2. Be better technically at your game and get stronger. You can blame your parents for the genetics of your height –  but you can always work to improve your technique and strength. Parents – remember David Eckstein? He was a major league player – nothing special to look at but a hard nose player who had a very nice and long major league career. Sadly, few players take the time to learn the finer points of the game and really work on their technique and even less work on the strengthening part before they get to college.  Players who practice on their own outside of team practice are in the minority these days.

3. Be the kind of player on the field coaches want to see. In other words – have a great attitude. It seems corny but time and time again – coaches will tell you attitude matters. If you have a bad one – it does not matter your size – softball coaches do not get paid enough to take on a poor attitude. I was running an exposure game in Florida and we had some Junior College coaches working the event. I asked them to pick an MVP of the game – they chose a player who was about 5 foot 3  and when I asked why – they said it was her hustle and her enthusiasm that just made her stand out from the others. All the players were talented they said, but she stood out because of her attitude and hustle.

All coaches are trying to recruit “difference makers”. Those are the players that make their team better than other teams and help them win games. Players that hit the ball farther throw the ball harder, run faster than the average fit this category but there are those players who bring leadership, heart, determination and these traits help a team win as well. Remember, we are recruiting a softball player so in addition to leadership, hustle and heart you better have skills as well. The problem as a college coach is that it is much easier to evaluate a players hitting, fielding and pitching in a tournament setting than it is to evaluate the character traits like leadership and heart.
Let me give you some tips to help you in the recruiting process.

–   Understand what makes you special as a softball player and tell college coaches often. Meaning, send more than 1 email during the recruiting process. Do more to set yourself apart!
–   Tall girls, girls who run really fast or pitchers who throw 70 mph are easy to spot at a tournament – but for the rest, they need to get the coaches to come to them and stay and watch them they play. This is when a good skills video will help. By seeing the player ahead of time the coach can decide if there is something there they like and when they come to the game they are invested in staying and watching that particular player.

There is a quote from John Wooden the great basketball coach at UCLA – it said something along the lines of “Don’t let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can do”. In other words, even if you are not 6 foot tall you can still control your hustle, work ethic and conditioning. Coaches love players who hustle – you know why? They are fun to coach. You don’t spend time trying to motivate them because they are self motivated.

Set yourself apart with the right recruiting events! Events where college coaches will be! See the Recruiting Camp and Exposure Games at the USA Elite Northern Exposure Summer Showcase July 13 and 14, 2017. Go to http://www.USAEliteShowcases.com for more information

How Will This New Recruiting Calendar Affect My Recruiting Process? By: Heidi Freitager-Kirkaldy

Starting August 1, 2017, the NCAA has approved a new recruiting calendar for division I softball which will drastically change some of the ways you as a prospect will need to go about getting recruited to that level. Here’s a brief synopsis of the changes:

  1. College coaches will NOT be limited to 50 calendar days of recruiting. Were you even aware in the first place that coaches were limited by this?  Many prospects we talked to were not.  What it currently means is that if a staff has three coaches and they all go recruiting on the same day to non-scholastic events, that staff has just used 3 of their 50 days for the year.  So you’re thinking, “THIS IS AWESOME – they can come to every tournament I play now!!!”  The trick is, these collegiate softball programs are also constrained by how much money they have to travel to recruit.  Our guess is that it will increase the number of local college coaches you will see around in the summers and potentially the number of college coaches from bigger budget programs throughout the available recruiting periods.


  1. College coach employment at non-institutional camps has been limited to ONLY during the summer contact period and the six Saturdays/Sundays in the fall prior to Thanksgiving. We haven’t found any college coaches wild about this one because (a) outside camps are a great way to supplement their income, (b) prospects love being seen by multiple schools in one location, and (c) colleges will now be forced to run more of their own institutional camps/clinics, which take a tremendous amount of organization and time away from focusing on your current and future athletes.   In our eyes, this is going to increase the importance of shooting good recruiting videos so coaches can get a good preview of you playing as they won’t be able to see as many athletes through camps.  (You can check out which camps/locations FPOS will be shooting videos ) We also think this amplifies the importance of choosing the right institutional camps to go to, which means going through a thorough educational process on where you may want to go before you plop down hundreds of dollars to attend a school’s camp.  Taking the FPOS Road To Recruiting Success Online Class would definitely be a benefit here.


  1. Evaluations by college coaches at non-scholastic practices and competitions are prohibited during the spring evaluation period (which next year will be January 2 – May 28, 2018). This will be a huge impact to prospects in Georgia, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota, all of whom play high school softball in the fall, and Iowa, which plays it’s high school ball in the summer.  Those states playing high school ball in the fall will most likely be limited to a very regional travel schedule during that time, which will mean they probably need to make sure their travel organizations need to be very focused on their tournament play throughout the summer evaluation period.  Conversely, Iowa high school players will need to make sure their travel play during those 6 weekends in the fall is focused on where the college coaches they want to see them are traveling.  Information about choosing the right travel team for you are included in the Roadmap To Recruiting Success Online Class as well, with a detailed breakdown on the attributes that you need to be looking at to make the right decision for you as a prospective collegiate student-athlete.

If this particular iteration of the recruiting calendar remains in place for a while (as they do tend to change every few years), we also wonder how much more importance will be placed on the quality of high school coaches.  Will parents move their kids into areas specifically because of a quality high school coach that develops their child and has regular recruiting at their games because of the number of prospects that attend that school that can now not be seen on their travel teams during that time?  It’s a stretch, but then again, who thought 10 years ago colleges would be verbally committing 7th and 8th graders?

Stay tuned to your FPOS for more changes on NCAA rules and how it will affect your recruiting process!




April is not just a busy time for softball coaches but for the NCAA as well. This week the NCAA Division I Council considered three proposals related to softball and has approved one while tabling two.  The Council tabled the following:

  1. The proposal to allow for official visits to occur during the junior year and not allow arranged unofficial visits until the junior year.
  1. The proposal to allow student-athletes to participate in fall competition without using a season of eligibility.

The NCAA Division I softball recruiting calendar proposal was adopted and will be effective August 1, 2017

You can read the full proposal and details, including the 2017-2018 Recruiting calendar HERE.

Some key takeaways include:

  1. EVALUATION DAYS:  institutions will no longer be restricted to a maximum of 50 evaluation days.
  1. NONINSTITUTIONAL CAMPS:  An institution’s coach or staff member with responsibilities specific to softball may be employed (either on a salaried or volunteer basis) in a non-institutional, privately owned camp or clinic ONLY during the recruiting calendar periods when evaluation at non-scholastic practice or competition activities is permitted (i.e., during the summer contact period and the six weekends prior to Thanksgiving).
  2. Evaluations at non-scholastic practice and competition activities shall not occur except on Saturdays and Sundays during the six weekends prior to Thanksgiving:
    1. October 14 & 15, October 21 & 22, October 28 & 29, November 4 & 5, November 11 & 12, and November 18 & 19 are dates permitting observation of non-scholastic activities in 2017.
  3. During the Jan 2 – May 28, 2018 Evaluation period; Evaluation at non-scholastic practice and competition activities are prohibited.
  4. Dead periods surrounding the NLI signing segments, the NFCA National Convention, and the Women’s College World Series remain in the recruiting calendar.

So what does this mean? Here are some initial points

  1. Fall recruiting will change – if you want to get seen by D1 coaches during the fall, there will be a few places you can go and have good weather. West Coast and Florida will be even bigger hotbeds in the fall.
  2. Mega tournaments? It is going to be very difficult for the mega large tournaments to play a guaranteed number of games in just two days and get people home at a decent hour.
  3. Summer recruiting just became even more important!




How to get your players recruited


By: Heidi Frietager-Kirkaldy

  1. Knowing who you are as a coach and choosing your coaching staff

What are my “Coaching Cornerstones”?
First and foremost, you have to figure out what it is that is important to you as a coach day in and day out.  Consistency within these coaching cornerstones is going to be paramount in keeping your team & coaching staff together as you move through the season.  The more your group trusts you as a leader, the more they will be willing to accept your assistance as needed in the recruiting process.  We’re going to give you some examples of what we’ve used in the past, but make some that fit you and your style best.

Sample Coaching Cornerstones
·         Make sure it’s a staff you can lose with first before you win
·         If it were my daughter, how would I want her to be dealt with?
·         What are your non-negotiables on & off the field?
·         You cannot send a mixed message
·         Be willing to say “I’m sorry” or “I made a mistake”

When you look to choose your staff (and yes, we realize options are very limited at the travel ball level at times), there’s a few questions to address and we highly suggest you write out the answers in black and white to go over with your staff – that way everyone can contribute to making the program work best:

·         What am I good at as a head coach?
·         What do my assistants need to be good at?
·         What roles does the head coach want the assistants to fill?
·         What roles do the assistants want to fill?

  1. Picking & coaching a team

The interesting part of choosing the members of your program is that the process is all VERY similar to that of a college coach.  You want kids that are talented, coachable, smart, and don’t cause issues on and off the field.  You also want the parents of those kids to be supportive of you, your staff, and the other players on the team.  Being transparent about the goals of the program during the selection process will be important to keeping the ship sailing in the right direction.

For us, trying to pick up the best pitching available is a huge step in the team building process.  Let’s face it: the easiest thing to view in terms of skill on the field is the pitcher because they are on the field handling the ball more than anyone else.  So if you can get 2-3 kids that can develop into college prospects in the circle, that just means the rest of your team will get that much more exposure.

A recruiting network is just as important for a travel coach as it is for a college coach.  Kids move out of the area, move up in age group, switch to another team, or leave for a myriad of other reasons – it just means you have to be prepared when that happens.  Talking to local high school coaches, players’ parents, and even local college coaches can be helpful in trying to be prepared when your recruiting needs arise.  Being ahead of the game in this area may be even more important for the futures of your players than anything else you bring to the table.

Determining what you do with those kids you have chosen is another big decision to make.  Figuring out how much time they need to spend developing under your tutelage vs. going out and competing is important to answer early on.  If everyone on the squad lives locally, your development options with you coaching them will be much broader than if the group is more spread out.  College coaches want to see talent and then they want to see that those talented kids are being coached well so that by the time they get them, they are able to compete at the highest level.

  1. Setting a schedule

Figuring out exactly how good your squad is in relation to others in their same age group as well as in relation to the different college levels will be key in helping you construct a schedule.  Finding a good balance of development level tournaments along with being able to show your squad the highest levels of competition is ideal.  Obviously, a component of this will be figuring out what your team parents can afford to do in terms of travel.

Assuming your team consists of kids of recruitable age, you’ll want to figure out two things:

1.      What schools are my athletes interested in attending?
2.      Where do the coaches of those schools go recruiting?

There are SO many tournaments/showcases available today that doing your homework on these two questions is vital if you intend on best helping your kids get recruited.  This step will involve communicating with your kids about their list of schools, calling those schools to find out if they have tournaments they typically attend, and potentially calling tournament directors to help answer any remaining questions you may have.  Becoming someone that tournament directors and college coaches know will help in getting your team seen by more coaches.

  1. Contacting college coaches

One of our least favorite questions we often received as college coaches from travel coaches we just met was this:  “What are you looking for?”  Worse yet, having a coach trying to “sell” us every player in their program before they even knew what we were about made us feel like we were dealing with a used car salesman.  College coaches are not shy; if they like one of your players, they will let you know.  We often found that our favorite travel coaches would introduce themselves, hand us a team roster, and then allow their team’s play to speak for itself.

Knowing college logos, coaches, rosters, and their upcoming needs is a huge help in the process, especially at tournaments.  Being able to greet a coach by name is really helpful in making them feel like you know a little something about their program.  Now if you don’t have any of that information available, asking them who they are and about their school before you talk about softball related things can lead to a much more favorable conversation because hopefully you can do a better job of potentially matching players with specific attributes (GPA, majors, location interests) to their program.

In contacting college coaches, your allies are: honesty, brevity, and integrity.  If you do what you say you will in an efficient manner when dealing with college coaches and always stay above board, you’ll get a good reputation and more coaches will be watching you in the future, whether a particular prospect goes to that college or not.

  1. Play Hard:  Win some, lose some, but always leave it on the field

Believe it or not, your coaching style can often dictate which coaches attend your games.  College coaches want kids that can play on their own and think for themselves, so coaching them in practice and allowing them to play free in games is often preferred by those coaches in attendance.

As much as you evaluate the kids during the season, we encourage you to evaluate your staff’s performances as well, including with the recruiting process.  Do all of your coaches know what types of schools each player is interested in attending?  Are they successfully talking to coaches about your program when the opportunity arises?

The important part of this process is to make sure your athletes are moving toward whatever their goals are.

Recruiting Camps Exposed!

Recruiting Camps – EXPOSED!!

Whether or not you are new or not to the recruiting experience, recruiting camps are confusing. What are they? Are they all the same? Do college coaches actually come? Are they worth the money? Part of the confusion starts with the many terms used to describe a recruiting camp.  You will see recruiting camp, prospect camp, evaluation camp and others. Are they all the same?

Essentially, there are two basic types of events.  First are ones at which NCAA coaches are allowed to participate on the field as “instructors.”  Second are those that have the feel of a softball combine where players showcase their skills in front of college coaches.  In the latter event, the NCAA coaches do not participate on the field or in any fashion, they are merely recruiting. The NCAA prohibits their coaches from working this type of event unless it is a “camp” with instruction an integral part of the event. (Note:  Junior College and NAIA coaches do not have any restrictions when it comes to recruiting events and, therefore, may participate in either).

Most of the confusion arises due the lack of standard terminology and the mixing of terms crossing over between both types of events.  The NCAA allows an event to be called anything.  This means Evaluation Camp, Prospect Camp or Recruiting Camp may all mean the same type of event OR not!  Does that help clear things up?  I don’t think so!  Bottom line, do your homework They are not all the same.

For clarity, let’s call a “camp” an event at which NCAA coaches participate and a “combine” an event at which players showcase their skills without an instructional component. Based on this description, below are some points to consider when deciding on attending these types of events. Remember, this description isn’t what you will always see at these events, I am  just trying to differentiate between the two for the purpose of this article

Do college coaches actually attend?

Camps – Camps are generally geared around specific college coaches who host the camp.  For instance, say your favorite college softball team hosts a softball camp.  This event will be designed to provide instruction by a handful of college coaches, and sometimes the college team’s players assist, giving you the opportunity to be seen by these coaches.  However, the number of coaches is limited to a specific college or maybe a combination of two or three different colleges working together.  Yes, these coaches may be “recruiting” as well, but only a handful will attend.

Combines – College coaches like the combine.  The coach is guaranteed to see a player perform her skills and can see many players in a very short period of time. Just attending a college showcase, a coach doesn’t have this same guarantee.  Based on how a game plays out, the player may never get a ball hit to her during the game and/or may be walked every time she comes up to bat.  This is what makes the Combine a great partner to the college showcases.  The coaches can attend the combine, assured to see the players’ skills and, then can watch those they are interested in pursuing further during the game to see the intangibles such as attitude, leadership, game presence, and hustle.

The number of recruiting combines has exploded, and coaches do not attend them all. It is not unheard of to attend an event at which no coaches show. Buyer beware!  Research your event to see if it has a good reputation for college coaches attending.  Potentially, in a combine you can be seen by more college coaches than at a camp type event where you most likely will only be seen by the coaches working with you.

It is also important to remember that as a potential college recruit, the best approach to the combine type event is to invite your list of college coaches to attend.  Recruiting is most successful when the player has continued contact with specific college coaches and builds a rapport with them over their recruiting years.

The bottom line, if you go to a camp or a combine, know which you are attending and set your expectations accordingly.  Do your homework, communicate with coaches and then attend the event giving your best every second.

What college coaches participate in the Combine and which at the Camp? 

For the college camp, look at the list of college coaches participating in the event.  Ask yourself, what schools are they from and are they a good fit for my skills as a softball player?  You don’t want to show up at one of these events hoping to be discovered.  There will be a limited number of coaches and part of what they do is to fundraise for their team.  Do your homework ahead of time and research the schools and email the coach if you decide to attend.

What about the Combine?  As we mentioned above, ensure you are attending a quality combine.  College coaches don’t always say they are attending these events because they don’t want to be slammed with thousands of emails, most of which come the week before the event.  Don’t expect to be discovered by the attending coach, market yourself Let the colleges you are interested in know you are attending and invite them to come see you.  Don’t wait until the last minute! Start talking to them about attending the event weeks or even a couple of months ahead of the event and invite them to come see you.

Are you getting value?

What do you get with the event?  Are you being seen by the schools  that fit your academic and athletic requirements?  What else comes with the event?  Answer these questions to help understand what you will get out of the camp or combine event.  When looking at the combine event, look for companies and event hosts that have a reputation for their quality and features that assist you in the recruiting process.  Some events have more value than others.  Again, do your homework!

FPOS Recruiting Camps with Virtual Showcase

The great feature of an FPOS Recruiting Combine is that not only are you seen by college coaches at the event, but a video is taken at the event and made into a “Virtual Showcase.”  This Virtual Showcase is emailed to over 2000 college coaches with information about each player so that when they find a player of interest, they have the ability to contact her for future recruiting.   This way you are seen by the coaches at the event and many, many after the event is over.  Additionally, college coach will have the video at their fingertips should they want to take a look again.  Once you leave most Combines, a college coach is left with only the memory and written notes for a specific player.  Coaches love the ability to look at a skills video to refresh their interest.

FPOS Recruiting events come with a 1 month Gold membership where you can learn about the recruiting process and how to find the right college fit.  Participants in an FPOS recruiting event can also purchase a “miniskills” video of their  individual performance in the event and upload it to their personal recruiting page as well as email it to college coaches. This is a very inexpensive way to get a skills video to better market yourself to the colleges.

In evaluating recruiting events, keep your expectations in check.   These events are tools in the recruiting process. It is still up to you to have a plan and execute that plan.  Ask questions and find out the details of the event. Treat this like any other purchase and ask yourself if  you are getting value for your purchase.

Go to http://www.FastpitchOnlineShowcase.com for a list of upcoming events

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