5 "Intangibles" That Can Get You Recruited

May 11, 2023
  1. Do You Hustle? ⚡
  2. Are You a Good Teammate? 👊
  3. Are You Coachable? 📋
  4. Are You A Competitor? 💪
  5. How Do You Respond to Failure? 😡 
    It's no secret that the recruiting landscape is more competitive than ever before. Everyone is talented, motivated and hungry for the limited roster spots that are out there. And while your on-field play will ultimately decide your fate, there are numerous "Intangibles" that every college coach looks at to help decide between two similar players. So the next time you take the field, with a scout in the stands, remember these 5 tips... they may just get you that roster spot.  

1. Do You Hustle? ⚡

The old school baseball purists and the new school analytics junkies don’t agree on much these days, but when it comes to hustling, both sides know, IT MATTERS. 

There is no easier way to turn a coach off than by not running out to your position, or sprinting to first base on any ball you hit remotely fair. It is the golden rule of scouting, because it says so much about your character. If you don’t have the time to run out of the box hard on a routine grounder to short, what else will you not have time for? 

Moreover it shows your coaches and teammates up. If you want a concrete reason as to why you should run everything out, watch a high school game and tell me how many “routine plays” get botched every game. 
If you still don’t think it matters, allow me to tell you a brief story:

My last year in pro-ball, during spring training/tryouts, we had an extremely talented hitter that was a shoe-in to make the opening day roster. One of the final scrimmages before final cuts, he hit a routine foul ball to the third baseman. Said hitter started to stroll back to the dugout, knowing he was out. However, the wind was gusting that day and that routine out quickly became anything but as the fielder struggled to track the flight. As it came down, it nicked the chalk of the line and bounced fair. Two runs crossed the plate, but because our hitter never ran to first, he was easily forced out and the inning ended. That SHOE-IN was cut & sent home that night. 
Playing hard & hustling every time you step on the field shows you care. If you can’t put your ego aside and do the right thing for the good of your team (every time) then you will be passed on, it’s as simple as that.

2. Are You A Good Teammate? 👊

I could go on a long tangent here about all the reasons that being a good teammate is important, but this is one of those things where you either are, or you aren't. There's no faking it. So if you are one of those guys, here are some ways in which you can highlight your character, that maybe you haven't thought of before. 

Celebrate Other’s Success Like Your Own

⭐If a teammate knocks in a big run, be on the top step of the dugout pointing and cheering for him. Scouts want to see you are invested in the team winning, not just yourself. 

⭐Give high fives, fist pump, show that you care about the team. Celebrating others will make them want to celebrate you back. If you hit a double and your bench goes wild that is a good look for you. 

Pick Your Teammates Up

⭐If a teammate makes an error or strikes out with the bases loaded, pick him up. Don’t let him let one mistake become two. Failure happens to everyone. 

⭐If a guy is stranded at second, you can run out to your position with his glove and hat so he doesn’t have to go back to the dugout. Know where everyone's stuff is and help a guy out. 

⭐If a pitcher is getting lit up, and you are an infielder, call time and go give some encouragement. Use this move sparingly, but in the right circumstance this can really help a pitcher and make you look good to the scouts. 

Share Information

⭐Scouts want to see good communication. One way to standout is to relay a scouting report to the guy on deck or in the hole after you get out. Go quickly tell the next guy what you saw and how it looked. That’s putting the team above yourself. 

⭐When on second base, try to pick the signs up and relay them to the hitter. Some may say this is Bush League, but college coaches love it. This shows you are into the game and a pest. They want guys who are willing to do it all to help their teammates win.

3. Are You Coachable? 📋

I love this one, because every single player struggles with specific coaches at some point in their lives. It’s in our human nature to deflect blame and make excuses, but the guys that can take a chewing out, and reply “Yes Sir”, get ahead in this game. 

If you are looking at the dirt during a mound visit, or flip the ball to your coach when he comes to take you out, you set off alarm bells in a scout’s head. 

Be present. Be respectful. And know that scouts want to see how you react to “tough love” 

3 Ways to Show You are Coachable: 

1. Look at the third base coach after every pitch for signs.
  • Even if it’s 3-0 and you know a take call is coming, look down there, it shows you respect your coach. 
2. Give eye contact at all times. 
  • If a coach is speaking to you or your team, eye contact. Don’t be looking into the stands, be alert, and show you're a good listener. 
3. Thank your coaches after every game. 
  • When the game is over, win or lose, make a habit of going up to all of your coaches and saying thank you. It goes a long way. Scouts love it too. This shows you are a thoughtful guy who respects the time and energy he is receiving.  

4. Are You a Competitor? 💪

College coaches can teach you how to throw harder, how to become more accurate, how to hit for more power, but almost all of them struggle with teaching you how to become a better competitor. That's because it's a personal choice that you make each time you step between the lines. Every year, on every college roster, incredibly talented players ride the bench because they hide in their shells when the lights turn on. That’s why scouts are valuing competitiveness more & more. It is one of the great differentiators. 

Here are a few organic ways you can showcase your competitiveness to any coach that happens to be in the stands:

Always Look to Take the Extra Base

⭐This sort of plays into hustling as well, but the point is that competitors are constantly pushing the envelope and asking questions of the defense. 

⭐On a single to left field, do you take a hard turn at first and look to head to second if there's a bobble? Do you take a good secondary lead and look to advance on a ball in the dirt?

⭐Coaches want to see aggression. Even if you get thrown out, at least you are the kind of guy that plays the game the right way. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive. 

Positive Emotion is a Good Thing 

⭐One common theme among coaches I talk with is that they all enjoy seeing guys get fired up after a big hit or strikeout. A first pump with the bases loaded shows a fire in you that can’t be ignored. Don’t be a robot, if you succeed show your positive emotion. 

⭐This comes with a big BUT… only direct your emotion towards your own team. Yelling at the opposing hitter or bench after you do something good is a big turn off. Be positive in the right direction, it’s a very delicate balancing act. 

⭐Remember however, that you need to be you out there. If you are not an emotional player then don’t force it. The overall point is that you shouldn’t be afraid to let it out if you want to. 

Control of the Inside

⭐How well do you throw fastballs inside? Do you make the hitter uncomfortable? Do you back him off the plate? Scouts love to see fearless pitching, even if that means you hit a guy occasionally.

⭐A pitcher who nibbles the outside corner and throws 50% off-speed is not super attractive. Coaches want to see you challenge their best with your best.

⭐Same goes for hitters. If a pitcher is passive and only throwing outside, make an adjustment and stand right up on the plate. Dare the pitcher to come inside. If you command the box, scouts will notice.

5. How Do You Respond to Failure? 😡

The reality of the situation is that some days you will not have your best stuff. Scouts know what your stats are, they are not looking for you to go 5-5, they want to see the person and the player they are getting. And a big piece of that decision comes from your ability to deal with in-game failure. 
Scouts want to see your body language after you let up a homerun, or boot a ball at shortstop. Do you deflate? Do you get angry? Do you throw your hands up in frustration? Your response tells your story. Here are a few ways to master your body language: 

Breathe it Out

⭐One very positive way to deal with failure is to take a step back, reset yourself, take a big breath and get after it again. Coaches love to see the routine you go through when you start to fail. The guys who can get back on the horse the fastest are the ones I want on a roster. Controlling your breathing is HUGE. 

Don’t Point the Finger

⭐Who do you blame when you mess up? Many players will immediately look at the umpire and question a decision that they made. If you had a bad strike-two call, and then swung through the next pitch, that’s on you, not the ump. If you turn around and say something or give a look, this shows scouts that you can’t handle adversity very well. You need to be the best at being a brick wall, nothing phases you, you're better than that. 

Ask Yourself: “What’s Next?”

⭐The previous play is over, good or bad, you can’t go back or change anything. If you mess up, ask yourself “What can I control now?”. It’s a simple question that will lock you back in and prepare you for the next play. 
Ultimately, how you respond to adversity will often be the final box that a scout has to check. If you can’t deal with it now, how do you expect to deal with it in college? 
So the next time you make an error with scouts in the stand, remember, they want to see this side of your game. Breathe it out & clean the slate. 
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