More than likely if you are going to play college softball you will be playing at an NCAA sanctioned school. There are smaller sanctioning bodies that have different rules, but overall if you follow what is outlined at the NCAA Eligibility Center you will have covered most, if not all, of your bases.
Next you’ll want to create a daily routine. I have outlined a way to do this at CoachUp Nation (please give it a read!) but the most important step from that article is to start using a product called the Self Journal. It basically combines a daily planner with goal setting and goal tracking to help keep you working daily towards your goal. And, putting pen to paper is probably the best way to reinforce your memory of what needs to be done. Plus when you are able to look back at all you have already done (after keeping the journal daily for a couple of months) you will have inspiration to keep moving forward!
Once you have your goals situated you should look at what expectations colleges have when it comes down to a college softball players daily routine. You can read about what happens at Oregon State or what Amanda Scarborough faced. There are many different stories out there but overall their schedules seem to share some similarities. They all tend to lift and/or run early in the morning, go to class, practice, study, practice all in one day.
While you may not be able to do the exact same routine a college player can do, if you can get it as close to their schedule as possible not only will you improve but when you do get to college you’ll already be used to the routine! So, a typical high school student-athlete schedule may look like this:
5:00am – 5:30am Wake Up, eat
5:30am – 6:00am Conditioning/Weights
6:00am – 7:00am Get ready for school
7:30am – 2:30pm Academic Classes
2:00pm – 4:30pm Team practice
4:30pm – 8:00pm Study/Homework
8:00pm – 9:00pm Individual athletic work or lesson
10:00pm – 10:30pm Get ready for bed/Rehab
10:30pm – In Bed
Obviously your schedule will vary, but without a daily routine you will not be able to get the basics out of the way.
On top of knowing when to do things you should know what to do as well! Something like this 52-week workout plan will definitely get you in the right direction. Also you can search for various programs workout routines or even watch skill videos via YouTube with a quick Google search of a coach or college softball programs name.
This brings me to private lessons and/or travel teams. Your recreational team or high school coach more than likely has no idea what it takes to get into a college softball program or have connections to college softball coaches. In addition the talent level of either of those teams varies so widely that even if the coaches do know what it takes they can only make practices work for the least skilled players abilities or they risk injuring someone. This will definitely hold you back in your growth as an athlete.
The other problem is softball, as a whole, is still a small sport. Colleges do not have the resources or staff usually to scout teams during a normal softball season because they have their own teams to worry about. Most high school and recreational softball seasons run along side college seasons therefore if all you play is rec. or high school you more than likely will not be seen. Playing travel, therefore, is a major component into getting recruited by a college coach.
Playing travel alone will not get you to your goal! You will have to put in extra work outside of the team practices because a coach can only give so much time and attention in a team setting to any individual player. Whether you get lessons or work on your own you need to sharpen your own skills on your own time. Getting a lesson for an experienced coach will definitely help you maximize that time by helping you work on the things that will get you better faster, but any amount of extra work will be necessary.
Lastly you will need to understand how recruiting works and the steps you can take, on your own, to help yourself out. While it is nice to have people helping you out, if you don’t know what you are doing you could make yourself ineligible if you don’t follow the rules.