Five questions to help your players prepare for the future

Back in episode 72, Mark Daniels, head coach at Virginia HS in Bristol, Virginia, mentioned that he asked players five questions to help them evaluate their future. Thanks to Coach Daniels for taking time to write them down for us here at Top Coach. This is a great tool for high school coaches. — editor

by Mark Daniels, Virginia High School, Bristol, Virginia

As a high school baseball coach, the number one goal of mine is to help our players get to the next level. In 20 years of high school coaching, 85% of our players have gone on to participate in collegiate baseball and the professional ranks. Between the sophomore and junior seasons, I use the following list of questions with players to begin our college recruiting process and narrow their college choices. Generally, I understand that at such a young age they all still think they are “big league” or top Division 1 prospects. Truthfully, as we all know, only about 6 to 8% of ALL high school players fall into this category. However, I do believe there is a place for all high school players to play if they have a work ethic and desire even though it may not be their DREAM school. Thus, we have to tell them the truth. There are two types of players that play the game — those who are humble and those who are about to be humbled.

scan0011With that being said, we ask our players to rank the following list of questions in order of importance, in an effort to begin to narrow the college choice process. Each player lists their top five dream schools where they are interested in attending and playing — typically schools like UVA, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Georgia, or the “I want to play pro ball.” This truly is where the humbling process begins — after they rank these five questions.

  1. How important is money? (Scholarship / Academic / Financial Aid) Is this a major factor to you and your family to have the opportunity to attend college?
  2. How far are you willing to go from home?
    • Trust me, they will say they will go anywhere, but that is not the truth. I had one young man who went to a JUCO in Amarillo, TX, had a great fall and was #2 on the pitching depth chart, only to come home at Christmas wearing a cowboy hat and belt buckle, and never go back.
    • The truth is they are only going to go to about a three hour radius from home. I do know there are the exceptions, but for most, three hours is it.
  3. How important is the college major?
    • Does this school offer the college major which you are interested in?
    • How do you fit academically with this college?
  4. How important is the coaching staff who is going to develop you, not only as a player, but also as a person over the next 4 years? (Not only the head coach, but also assistants as well.)
    • It continues to amaze me, when a young man tells me that he wants to go to a specific school but cannot tell me who the head coach is, or anything about the program.
    • And truly, you need to know/talk with the assistants who are the grunts of the top programs.
    • Don’t go play for a school because of the name. Go because of the coaching staff that will develop you both on and off the field.
  5. THE BIG ONE!!! How important is playing right away??
    • This one is usually the separator. Most players think / want to go into a program and play right away.
    • If you are not projecting as a top notch/draft type player, and playing right away is ranked one or two, then dream schools are usually eliminated.

After receiving these questions, the players take home, review and bring list back ranking in level of importance. We sit down and review list and try to put together a list to be proactive with. Again, understand we do this between the sophomore and junior season. We have been extremely focused on academics starting in middle school. Of course, we realize that sometimes during their senior year things change, however, we have created a realistic choice of schools and can become proactive in trying to get players into those schools. We make every effort to not kill their dream school, but try to sell that they must have a backup plan.

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