Email #1 on Recruiting Tips-C
Lake Land College Softball
At Lake Land College our roster will have 17 to 20 players on any given year. Being a NJCAA Division 1 program each year we need to replace half our team. We begin recruiting by identifying what types of players are needed for a particular recruiting class. We have a depth chart by defensive positions, although we also factor in other important attributes we may lose with a graduating class. These consist of such things as speed, offensive power, slapping ability, left-handedness, leadership and versatility. After we identify our needs for a recruiting class we will fill one pitching, catching, shortstop and outfielder position by end of summer following a player's junior year in HS. This will leave 4 to 5 spots remaining to fill. Now having key positions covered we now have the ability to wait to see who is still available after the November NCAA early signing date. Recruiting here at Lake Land is an ongoing process. Having the ability to recruit a player that can help win at any time of the year is big. Some of our best players have come to us as late as July prior to the start of our school year.
We enter each recruiting opportunity with a plan. Before attending a tournament, we contact coaches in order to hear their recommendations and also to help build rapport. We believe the best recruiters have a wide network of people they trust to keep them informed of top talent. Using a combination of coach recommendations, personal correspondence with athletes, and my knowledge of the relative competitiveness of certain teams, we will construct a schedule for which games and pre-game warm ups we should be attending at a certain time. Attempting to discover talent without a plan is both a waste of time and of the recruiting budget. Beside tournaments we use our own camps as a huge recruiting opportunity as well. We believe in watching a potential student athlete on at least three separate occasions in order to develop a well-rounded opinion of her abilities and her potential within the program. In our assessments we will watch a player from different perspectives around the field, including one where we can watch her interaction within the dugout. Aside from evaluating her athletic potential, we also take her perceived character into careful consideration. When we become interested in a potential student athlete, we will conduct a character and academic check on her. This also includes speaking with her coaches (and opposing coaches), teachers, counselors, principal, checking out her Facebook page, and extends to her interaction with my staff and our student athletes on her visit.
ATHLETIC EVALUATION OF A POTENTIAL LLC STUDENT ATHLETE: In recruiting potential student athletes, we place my emphasis on visual evaluation and the potential for development within the program. Statistics are a factor, but not our main focus, in recruiting. Since statistics serve as a numerical representation of performance, one is lead to believe they are objective. However, many statistics are recorded subjectively. Unless a team has a highly educated scorekeeper, typically a parent is making the judgment between, for example, a hit and an error or a passed ball and a wild pitch. Over time, these judgments can significantly alter a player's batting average, earned run average, fielding percentage, etc.
However, there are a few numbers we do find helpful in my initial evaluation of a potential student athlete. We believe the batter's on base percentage is a rather accurate indicator of their offensive success. Also, by using a stopwatch while recruiting, we our able to generate two other numbers we find very useful in my athletic evaluations: a catcher's pop time and a base runner's home-to-first time. A final stat that we look at is do they know how to WIN?
Typically we recruit hitters with a strong emphasis up the middle. This means we are most often interested in watching pitchers, catchers, middle infielders, and the center fielder. The pitcher and catcher are more specialist positions, while the middle infielders and center fielder are usually the most versatile and athletic members of a team. With potential student athletes making decisions earlier, and the opportunity for changes within our program over the year, versatility is critical because we are not always certain of the positions we will actually need. The potential student athletes must also want to play on passed their two year at LLC.
Although our focus tends to be up the middle, we do have a framework for what we expect from a potential student athlete for each position on the field. The following are guidelines, which we deviate from as necessary; especially is a player possesses desirable academic and character qualities.
Pitcher: Our philosophy is simple up, down, change. Pitchers should have solid command of at least one up and down pitch that can move (rise, drop, screw, curve, change up) along with her fastball and change of speed pitches. She must throw hard enough to make her pitches more effectively, and should be consistent and accurate. (Our current pitchers fastballs are 60 to 65 mph). She must be able to field her position, including charging the bunt. As the player who controls the game's momentum, a pitcher must be poised and confident.
Catcher: A catcher should have a consistent pop time 1.75 second or less as recorded by one of our staff member. She should have very few passed balls over a season. She should be a student of the game, and either be confident with calling pitches or be willing to learn how within our program. With her unique perspective facing the other direction on the field, she must be vocal and directing her teammates' defensive decisions. (Leadership and guts)
First Base: A first baseman should be tall in order to compensate for poor throws. She must have quick enough reactions to charge a bunt down the first base line. Many players can be taught first base, so a first baseman must ensure their defensive position on the field by being one of the strongest hitters on the team. A power hitter at this position is most desirable, and a natural lefty would be ideal.
Second Base: A second baseman must have quick instincts, as she must react accordingly to hitting, slapping and bunting situations. She should be fundamentally sound on ground balls with excellent range. Second baseman must also have a superior understanding of the game, as their split-second decisions will make or break a play.
Shortstop: A shortstop must be an excellent defensive player with either great arm strength of an exceptionally quick release. She should have a glove-to-glove time to first base of 1.65 seconds or less; enough time to throw out a runner capable of getting down the line in 2.7 seconds or less. Ideally this player is the most athletic and versatile on the team, allowing her to play several positions in college. Our past and current short stops have 63+ mph overhand throws.
Third Base: A third baseman must be tough and unafraid to play in tight when called upon. She must be capable of quick bursts forward and laterally, in order to charge bunts or cut off slaps in the hole. Like a shortstop, she should have a glove-to-glove time to first base of 1.65 seconds or less.
Outfield: An outfielder should never have an error due to a dropped fly ball. She should be the fastest on her team. Someone with an incredible strong arm could replace a speedy outfielder in certain circumstances, but quick players are needed out there in order to cover a lot of ground. She should field fly balls with confidence, and should rarely make a poor throw to a base. Outfielders are a good opportunity to recruit left-handed players and/or slappers. Our current outfielders are all left hand batters that include two All Americans.
Hitters: A good hitter will strike out less than once in a ten official at bats, and she should have more walks than strike outs. A hitter in the top of the order should have an on base percentage above .400, and a hitter in the middle of the order should have a strong RBI statistic. Hitters should be disciplined, being aggressive or patient according to the situation. Confidence is incredibly important as well. Our team batting average for the last three years is .375.
Base Runners: A base runner should slide every time unless she is told otherwise. She should be aggressive on the base paths and take the extra base when she can. We want fast athletes who can get home to first in 2.7 seconds or less (based on our timing), and expect everyone to make it under 3.0. A good base runner doesn’t need a base coach.
CHARACTER EVALUATION OF A POTENTIAL LLC STUDENT ATHLETE: Expectations for our student athletes here at Lake Land College is high. We believe a student athlete should be proud of things on which their name lies; whether it is the back of a uniform or the top of a research paper. We expect nothing less than 100% effort, honesty and respect from my student athletes (and myself) to each other, authority figures and members of the community. Consequently, we seek out potential student athletes who exhibit personal pride and maturity.
During a recruiting opportunity, we will evaluate several characteristics in addition to athletic abilities. These evaluations can take place during a game, between games, or on a visit to campus. A potential student athlete should be confident and have a certain swagger to her. She will not be timid on the field or in how she interacts with others. We look for a potential student athlete to look sharp. We believe that how you look correlates to the way you play the game. She should have her uniform tucked in properly and present herself cleanly and with pride.
We expect a potential student athlete to hustle (read: sprint) out to their position each and every time she takes the field. She should run out every hit ball without exception. She should slide into bases when appropriate and should dive after balls on defense when called for. During pre game warm ups, we want to see a potential student athlete hard at work-and be as focused-as she is in a game.
We watch to see how a potential student athlete interacts with the people around her. She should have respect for, and garner respect from, her teammates, coaches and parents, as well as the umpire and opposing coaches and players.
Finally, I expect a potential student athlete to be responsible. While we realize the years spent with these players are life forming ones, those who take responsibility for themselves and their actions early on will be most productive in our program.
How Lake Land College softball coaches measure times.
Overhand Throw: Throw the ball from 40ft and measure with a radar gun. Do this twice and use the average of the two times.
Home to 1st: Start with your left on home plate and your right foot behind home plate. Start three stopwatches when the front foot comes off home plate. Stop the watches when 1st base is contacted and use the middle time. Do this twice and use the average of the two times.
Home to 1st off the bat: At contact start three stopwatches. Stop the watches when 1st base is contacted and use the middle time. Do this twice and use the average of the two times.
Home to Home: Start with your left on home plate and your right foot behind home plate. Start three stopwatches when the front foot comes off home plate. Stop the watch when home plate is contacted and use the middle time. Do this twice and use the average of the two times.
Catcher Pop Time: Have a pitcher throw a ball underhand to the catcher who is in the down position. Start three stopwatches when the ball hits her glove. Stop the watches when ball hits the second baseman glove and use the middle time. Do this twice and use the average of the two times. If the second baseman straddles 2nd base, make sure she does not reach for the ball. (Home to second: 84ft, 10 inches)
Third to 1st Throw: Make a 12’ triangle from third base going down the line and towards and have the fielder stand beside third base. Roll a ball to the fielder the fielder must catch and throw the ball to 1st base with out coming out of the triangle. Start three stopwatches when the ball hits her glove. Stop the watch when ball hits the first baseman glove and use the middle time. If the first baseman straddles the bag, make sure she does not reach for the ball. Do this twice and use the average of the two times.
Short to 1st Throw: Go half between second and third, then go 12ft towards the outfield and make a line. Then go 12ft more and make another line. Have the fielder start behind the second line then roll a ball to the fielder. The fielder must catch and throw the ball to 1st base with out cross the first 12ft line. Start three stopwatches when the ball hits her glove. Stop the watch when ball hits the first baseman glove and use the middle time. If the first baseman straddles the bag, make sure she does not reach for the ball. Do this twice and use the average of the two times.