WHY ARE WE STILL SHOWCASING?
Over the past decade, I have had the opportunity to train some really incredible talents, mediocre talents, and athletes who have a love for a sport but just don’t quite express the talent necessary to play beyond the high school level in that sport. The problem I see with this scenario is not the disparity in talent [because frankly that just makes me a better coach] it is the fact that all three of these athlete types are partaking in the same recruiting process. On the surface, it is easy to see how this happens as the high-level talented athletes are likely getting recruited by the showcase company [as we need to remember these services are for-profit companies] to come to the event so they can draw the scouts [and will likely go for free]. The less talented athletes’ simply think the best course of action is to follow in the strides of the more talented, in an effort to achieve the same results. Unfortunately, the wallets of the less talented athletes’ are where the profit lies for the showcase company, as they will likely pay full-boat for the event, and get about as much exposure as if they were playing in their backyard.
We need to flip the recruiting process on its head, but before we do so we need to provide a little disclaimer first! If you have recruitable attributes, an above average arm [85+], speed [<4.8 – 40y], size [>6’3”], or above average power output [which means you probably have one of these other attributes, as well] than by all means the recruiting process is for you, showcase away! If you do not…STOP GOING TO SHOWCASES! Parents the greatest lesson we can provide our young athletes is to ask them to be honest about their talents and make conscious decisions about either working on them or maximizing their current talent level. Trying to protect them by insulating them from honesty only sets them up for inevitable let- downs and likely less intrinsically driven effort toward improvement.
If you are an athlete who does not possess these higher level attributes than you should be the one doing the recruiting, not the other way around. Almost every college now offers a ‘skills development camp’, also known as a recruiting camp. These are great opportunities for the athletes who may be ‘smart players’, ‘gamers’, ‘students of the game’, to showcase their underlying attributes that may never get exposed in a round of batting practice or 5 ground balls taken at shortstop. This creates a dynamic where the athlete can choose the colleges he wants exposure to and showcase more than just physical attributes [game knowledge, coachability, character, etc.]. The truest test for each athlete when deciding on a school is to have them ask themselves, ‘would I still want to be at this school if I wasn’t able to play my sport?’ If the athlete can answer this question with a yes then your recruiting process was a success…remember one way or another your paying for it!