Episode 26 – Softball Recruiting
Today I am going to talk about getting the most suitable players to your team. Most teams every year are looking for at least one player to fill a spot. As you know the ability to fill that spot will most times depend on what spot or position is vacant. A pitcher for example depending on the level of your team can be more difficult to find than a middle infielder. The other consideration is the culture of your team.
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Something you might want to consider when recruiting new players is, what is the culture like on your team and will the new player automatically fit or will they easily adapt? I‘ve had new players come to my team who seemed so great in the tryouts but then turned out to be my worst nightmare. That’s not fun. It can be difficult because without prior knowledge, you might need to rely on players, parents or other coaches. I have also had players on intermediate / advanced teams who have said they were star players, only to turn out to be less than mediocre. That was unfortunate because not only did they take a spot away from someone who might have been more qualified, but they also were dishonest with me which is a big no no in my books.
There might also be times when you want to chose a player who has more work ethic and self direction that doesn’t have the same skill level as one who feels they are as good as they need to be. It’s easier to train a coachable player than it is to direct one who feels she doesn’t need any improvement. I’m thinking that you know the players I’m talking about.
Here are some things you can do to ensure that the player that you ask to join your team is compatible and that she will fit well in your group.
- A questionnaire for potential additions which could be done by email or in person (with her parents or guardian present of course)
- Where did you play before?
- What position?
- How long have you played?
- Do you know your fielding percentage?
- Do you know your batting average?
- This will tell you the level of interest they have in their development
- Do you play other sports?
- Do you have experience with physical or mental training?
- What is that experience?
- How do you feel you will fit into this team?
- Do you see any challenges to playing on this team?
- What was your relationship with previous coaches?
- How do you feel if you are on time and a team mate is late to practice?
- What do you eat during tournaments?
- What would be the best thing about joining this team?
- How does your family feel about travel?
- How does your family feel about fundraising?
- What do you know about our team?
- Who puts the equipment away after practices and games?
- This is kind of a trick question because you are not referring her old team or your new one. It’s just a question that might tell you something about their work ethic or self direction
- A skills competition or tryout
- Input from your players – be sure to talk to your players individually because sometimes it’s not easy to be honest when they’re with their teammates who may or may not like the potential candidate. You could ask …
- Do you know her?
- How do you think she will fit in the team?
- Do you see any potential risks in her joining the team?
- Player relations
The truth is that you are never going to know exactly how a player is going to work out until she has been with your team for a couple of months. If you can gather all the information possible before you say yes, then you are at least 70% guaranteed that the player is what you expected her to be. What generally happens is there is a callout, and the interested players contact you or show up to a tryout that you hold. You run a practice and evaluate the players maybe with your co coaches and then select a player. You might find it more useful to use some kind of pre-meeting questionnaire and have them fill it out prior to practice, you can even weed out players and see which ones will fit your program before the date arrives.
This is good for all levels of play. You could have required sections and not required sections on the form and depending on the level of your team, you may or may not require the full completion. Priorities will most likely be different for recreation and intermediate/advanced teams, or at least they should be. I’m not saying that one is more important than the other but the intensities and expectations will be different.
When you put your post on Facebook, put the questionnaire with it and have he players fill it out and send it to you. A questionnaire not only allows you to get to know a player but it also shows that you care about the group that you are working with. By engaging with them early, you are also establishing a line of communication that will be useful during the season.
Well that does it for this edition of the softball academy podcast. If you have any questions or would like to see anything on the podcasts or the website just send me an email at email@example.com. See you next time.