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The Secret to Getting a Softball Scholarship

By: Cindy Bristow

Everybody’s out there trying to get a college softball scholarship so learn what every college coach knows and how to use this secret to your advantage.


The secrete to getting a college softball scholarships

What’s your plan? Whether it’s showcases, recruiting camps, or talent combines make sure you know the secret to getting a softball scholarship.

If you’re like most softball players out there then you’re dying to get a college softball scholarship. No doubt, you’re playing both school and travelball, playing fall, spring and summer softball as well as hoping your team goes to as many showcases as possible. And the reason for all this non-stop softball is for as many college coaches as possible to see you play.

All that sounds great! It seems like a great plan – your goal is to get a college scholarship so you practice and play softball as much as possible and then you hope or assume someone will see you play and give you an offer. If this sounds like you then you’re not alone. In fact, right now, as you’re reading this article, hundreds of thousands of young girls, just like you are reading and thinking the exact same thing.

So what can you do to make sure you’re the one that the college coaches want? What’s the secret? Fortunately, there is something you can do to almost guarantee that a college coach will want YOU to play on their college softball team. That “something” is to answer this one, simple question: “WHY YOU?” That’s it, that one little question can be the difference between you playing college softball and simply going to college, between knowing early where you’re going to go or sweating it out until the very last minute.

Being able to answer Why You? will make a huge difference in your future and here’s why. As a softball player you naturally are concerned about YOU. You spend your time worrying about your friends, your grades, your family, your team, your teammates, your softball, etc… Your thoughts all revolve around you. I don’t mean that in a selfish way, you’re a softball player and it’s only natural for players to think first about themselves. In fact, in order to be a good teammate, or sister or daughter or student you need to think about yourself, about your actions, about your behavior and about your comments. All these things will of course impact others and being a good person you certainly care about others, but you’ve got to first be responsible for your own behaviors and actions. So basically what I’m saying is – as a player it’s natural that your thoughts are about your future – specifically your softball and educational future.

Now, let’s look at this softball scholarship issue from the college coach’s point of view. As a coach, she/he is responsible for others. Their first thought is about their team, what their current team needs to improve on, and what players they need in the future to make their team better. So players are thinking about softball from one perspective while coaches think about it from quite another.

Now let’s go back to our important question – Why You? The reason this question is so important to your college softball future is because colleges usually have rosters of 17-19 players but on any one year, coaches only need about 5 to 8 new recruits. Only 5 to 8 players, and they can get them from ANYWHERE in the world! 5 to 8 players from anywhere in the world! So the question they are always asking themselves, whenever they go out recruiting is – Why Her? Why You? So the more answers you can come up with the more likely a coach has no choice but to pick YOU.

Let’s look at some things that are very important to college coaches when deciding which select few players are special enough to become a part of their team. Let’s look at Why You:

  • Are You a Good Enough Student?
    • Remember that you want to be a “college” softball player so grades matter. You don’t have to be Einstein but you do have to be able to get into their particular school and also show the coach that you have the discipline to do the things that you might not like doing, but know you need to do.
    • Remember – that LONG after your softball career is over the education that you received will turn into a fabulous career for you…or not. Go after that house and car and career of your dreams by taking advantage of your educational opportunities that softball might be able to provide you!
  • Are You a Good Enough Teammate?
    • Coaches watch how you interact with your teammates and coaches and if you give an attitude to your current coaches they know you’ll try to give them an attitude so they move to another field. Coaches don’t want backtalk, they want results. They don’t want attitude, they want desire. They don’t want pouting, they want improvement. Coaches see what you’ll be in the future by what they see you being right now.
    • Same goes for how you treat your teammates, and not just when you’re playing good, but especially when you make a mistake. How you handle adversity is what a college coach really pays attention to.
  • Are You a Good Enough Daughter?
    • Believe it or not, how you talk to and treat your parents is a HUGE deal to college coaches when they’re out recruiting. They watch and listen to see if you boss your parents around telling them to go get you a Coke, or do you say “please” and “thank you”. Attitude matters and again, if you treat your own parents this way you’re telling a college coach that you’ll probably treat them the same way, and they don’t want that behavior on their team.
  • Are You a Good Enough Player?
    • Hustle, Effort, Attitude, Determination, Desire, Cooperation– All of these categories are HUGELY important to college coaches and they can tell within the first 5 minutes of watching you play how much of all of these you have. The more you have of each of these the more important you become to that coach.
    • Resiliency – Big word that simply means how good are you at bouncing back after a mistake. College coaches know you’re going to make mistakes when you get to their school so they want to see how you handle them. Do you pout and give excuses and blame other people, or do you quickly work to bounce back and improve on the next play. When coaches sit down at a field to watch you play it’s not your mistakes that will turn them off but the fact that you quit after making them, or pouted, or blamed someone else. Take responsibility by owning your performance – by being resilient and bouncing back!
    • Physical Fitness – This is without a doubt, the area that changes the most between travel or school ball and college softball. You’re going to run and lift and sprint and jump more in one week than you might have in your life up to that point, so be ready for it because college coaches are also judging you on how they think you’ll be able to handle it all. Get in shape now instead of waiting for Boot Camp to start in college. Show college coaches that fitness is an important part of your game and that both physically and mentally you can handle the toughness factor, and that you ARE the toughness factor!
    • Adjustability and Versatility – Chances are that whatever position you’re playing right now, you won’t be playing in college. At least not exclusively. College coaches try to get the BEST 5 to 8 players every year and with a few exceptions (usually pitcher), players have to learn a new position in order to actually “play” in college instead of just practicing all 4 years. So work hard to show coaches how flexible and versatile you are by playing multiple positions, or being open to instruction, or doing anything you can to show you can fit into a place on their team. Remember – why you?
    • Skill – I put this last because it’s an obvious one, but it’s also the most common. There are tons of good players out there, but when you take all those good players and first grade them on the list we just covered, that pool shrinks down considerably. College coaches can find good players anywhere, they’re looking for those special qualities that separate good from special – so be THAT player. Be special! Practice your guts out, do what your parents, your teachers and your coaches say, be a good teammate and a good person and then when that college coach shows up at your ballfield – it will be obvious to them why it should BE YOU!

Good luck and remember that somebody is going to get that college softball scholarship so work hard and make sure it’s YOU! Good luck!

For more help with making your softball dreams come true, check out the following:

Pitching Skills:

Catching Skills:

Fielding Skills:

Hitting Skills:

Conditioning:

38 Comments »

  1. Hey Cindy! Thanks for the article; as always, your timing is right on. We have a young 16U team with great possibilities, and as the fall season progresses, we have and will continue to play in college showcase tournaments. I’m printing out a copy of this as I type to share with our girls. The work ethic is there as well as skill, but some need to learn about the attitude thing. Good info – keep it coming. Sharri

    Comment by Sharri Knight — November 2, 2010 @ 9:48 am

  2. Great tips and right on the mark. A good coach knows how to teach/hone softball skills, but they only want to spend that time on a quality player that has the other attributes Cindy mentions above. To that end I would add coachability. A recruiter will notice if you take cues from your coaches and how well you know the game. Great article!

    Comment by Kelly — November 2, 2010 @ 10:56 am

  3. Thank you for writing this article, my daughter had an experience with following these guidelines. She worked her whole career to get a scholarship, and one day in a travel ball tournament a coach saw her. She just happened to come to this tournament with this team to help them out, and she was very nervous had not one of her best pitching games, but hung in there. She was taught by a very great coach that it is the whole package, run on and off the field, always have your jersey tucked, when your off the field think about what you are saying and always be respectful. Well those tips paid off, she had a so so pitching game, but ran on and off the field, had her jersey tucked, never gave up and this coach saw her and wanted her. I had to ask why since she has such a hard game. The coach told me, it could tell she knew how to pitch and she was good, but I was looking for something else, and that was that go get them attitude, not giving up even when you aren’t doing good, she was always the first onto the field, her jersey was always tucked and she presented herself in a great manner on and off the field. She didn’t want someone with just great skills, but also a player who would represent her school with pride. So ladies listen when your coach tells you all those little things you think are insignificant and don’t matter-THEY DO and someone is watching and listening!

    Comment by Jill Haddan — November 2, 2010 @ 11:01 am

  4. I love this article! I’ve been preaching this to my kids as well as the girls that I coach! I love the reinforcement! Thank you for your insight and willingness to pass it on!

    Comment by Micki Keller — November 2, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  5. Great information. I just need to figure out how get a couple of players overseas an opportunity to try out.

    Comment by Larry — November 3, 2010 @ 11:31 am

  6. Quick question: if it is your first year playing on a high school team as a senior but you have played before on other teams is it possible for you to get a scholarship even with tht little info that the high school will have for you

    Comment by anjie — August 19, 2011 @ 11:52 am

  7. Hi Anjie -
    Remember that college coaches want talented players with great attitudes. While many schools may not have any money left if you’re already a senior, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want you to play on their team as long as they need your talent, position, attitude and grades. Ask both your travelball and your high school coach to contact as many colleges as they know about you and let the college coaches decide if they need you, not anybody else.
    Good luck!
    Cindy

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — August 19, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  8. I heard there are certain forms and steps I must take to ensure that college coaches are allowed to approach my daughter for a softball scholarship….

    Can you help?

    Thanks,
    Shannon

    Comment by Shannon — May 30, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  9. Hi Shannon -
    There are some very specific things that all prospective student-athletes who are looking to play either Division I or Division II need to take care of BEFORE being eligible to play. You can find them all on the NCAA’s new website that’s created for this specific purpose. It’s great and should answer all your questions:
    http://web1.ncaa.org/ECWR2/NCAA_EMS/NCAA_EMS.html#

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — May 30, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  10. I am a student in South Africa and I am very serious about my softball. I really wanted to know would it be harder for me to get a scholarship as I am not from the USA and have not been seen by the coaches. Also what qualifications would I need in order to be considered for a scholarship?
    Thanks,
    Divya

    Comment by Divya — January 3, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

  11. Hi Divya – Welcome to Softball Excellence and I’m so glad to hear from you! We have many foreign players playing softball in different colleges here in the US. You don’t have to be from the US to play softball in college here, but you do need to be pretty good at softball. Why don’t you have someone film you hitting about 10 pitches, and then fielding balls and making throws if you’re a fielder, or pitching – if you’re a pitcher. Then you can put that video up on YouTube and we can have different college coaches look at your skills. That will help them see if they could use you. Plus, your grades need to be pretty good and you need to be able to qualify for a college here. But, we have softball in our Junior Colleges – which are the 2 year schools – that help students get better prepared for our 4 year colleges. That might be the way to go for you if you have the talent. Best of luck and I’ll sign you up for our Softball Excellence newsletter! We’re so glad to hear from you! Cindy

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — January 4, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  12. Hello I am Cassie, I feel like I have most of these characteristics that you mentioned and I am really dedicated to softball. The problem is I am a sophomore and its my first year playing HS softball with little experience. I always try to do my best on and of the field everyday, but I am worried if ill reach the level for college. I am a straight A student so grades aren’t a factor ,but college and softball aren’t a option I really want to play college softball so what can I do to grab coaches attention when there is so much competition better than me. Since I am from a small town of Horizon in the outskirts of El Paso, TX I feel like getting a scholarship is a long shot. I know I can get to be a really good player I just feel coaches won’t get to see that chance for me to prove myself. So can u give me more advice to help me get noticed even though everyone else has a head start.

    Comment by Cassandra — April 7, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

  13. Hi Cassie – great question and since you asked, I’m going to give you an honest answer…since you’ve just started playing softball you probably don’t have the skills right now to play college softball. I said, right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t get them. So you’ve got to work your butt off! You’ve got to practice 3 times more than other players and put all your desire to play college softball into improving your skills. Then get yourself on a travel softball team which will let coaches see you play. The fact that you have great grades is awesome since coaches need good students as well as good players. You’ll be able to qualify for academic money to go to college and can always walk on to a college softball team. Plus, you might want to look at the Junior Colleges there in Texas. They have great softball programs and many have scholarship as well. These will give you more playing time to help you continue improving your skills. Good luck and keep practicing!!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — April 12, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

  14. hi my name is brittany im 19 and i was an awesome player when i played softball the coaches told my parents that i was what all the colleges would want and was just as good as ny of the starters on most college teams but my senior year i got pregnant and quit school is there any way that i would still be able to get a scholarship and if so how?? i would be willing to do just about anything to play college ball!!

    Comment by brittany — April 27, 2013 @ 12:27 am

  15. Hi Brittany, Thanks for your question, your honesty and your passion for softball. The first thing you’ll have to do to play college softball is to make sure academically, that you’re eligible for college. If I were you, the PERFECT place for you to start would be a junior college. There are tons of JC’s all over the country with great softball programs that would give you the opportunity to regain your softball form, get yourself back into physical shape and get your academics back on track. I hope that help you, and never let anything stand in the way of your dreams. Bigger obstacles just mean you’ve got to work harder, that’s all! Best of luck! Cindy

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — April 29, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  16. Hi! My name is Megan and I have played softball all my life. I used to pitch for my travel ball team and is a really good outfielder. I went through a phase where I didn’t want to play anymore so I quit for about half a year. I just now started playing again and have been really practicing a lot. My batting, fielding and gettin to know how to play the game again. Last year, I was a freshman and played varsity and pitched a little but played outfield all the time, but this year I’m homeschooled. My question is that, since I’ve been practicing and am going to play travel ball again, how will I get noticed and be able to show college coaches how i playIf I’m not playing high school ball? I’m also a very good student do grades aren’t a problem. Thanks, and anymore advice would be great!

    Comment by Megan — June 2, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

  17. Hi Megan, College coaches usually watch more travelball games than high school games so you should be fine. Keep your grades up and keep practicing. And good luck!
    Cindy

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 5, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

  18. I’m 13 and am playing in my first college showcase on June 14th, wich also happens to be my birthday, and I’ve been really nervous about it and thinking “what are they looking for” “how am I going to impress them” and “what can I do to make sure I don’t do something to make them not want me” and your article has really helped me to know what to do and how not to act. I know ill barely be 14 by the time I play infront of college coaches but its never to early to start getting noticed.

    Comment by Bailee — June 8, 2013 @ 2:38 am

  19. Bailee – Relax, play hard, be a good teammates and do your best. That’s what coaches are looking for!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 9, 2013 @ 10:42 am

  20. Hi, my daughter just turned 12, next year she will play travel Ball. My question is about her running. She just finished a Nike softball camp with Debbie Nelson. Her time from home to first was 3.0 almost a 2.9. Debbie said she was fast and that if she could get down to 2.6-2.7 she was pretty much gaurantee a scholarship! My question is how good is a 3.0 for her age? Also, do kids usually get any faster naturally at her age as they get older? Also is there anything that we can do to get her faster? Will it change her speed that much? Thanks!!

    Comment by Ashalynd — June 26, 2013 @ 11:37 am

  21. Actually 3.0 at her age is pretty good. Think of the average college runners going home to 1st around 3.0 and the really fast ones around 2.7 or 2.7…the best way to get faster is to improve your strength and technique. At 12 she’s a little young to start lifting weights but she can start doing squats and lunges to improve leg strength – and sprints also improve leg strength. As for technique, she needs to work on her running skills just like she would any of her other softball skills. Keep the hands moving forward and back (vs side to side), and short quick steps keeping your feet underneath your body vs reaching out with your legs. Hope that helps and keep practicing!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 27, 2013 @ 10:16 am

  22. Thank you so much! Wow ok so her speed is really good! Thank you so much for taking the time to respond! :) It is truly appreciated!

    Comment by Ashalynd — June 27, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

  23. Hi, I am a senior at my highschool I have been to one showcase but couldnt go to any more do to money issues I have multile highschool coaches asking for me to be on there team all the time. I have so much passion and desire to be on a college softball team I’m very fast I am a utility player Im going on a travel ball team soon I have a 3.1 gpa and I work hard through everything I always push myself. I’ve been emailing college coaches all the time but never got anything back my chances are coming slender and slender I need help any way I can do something that will get me noticed more?? Please help.

    Comment by Ashley — July 17, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

  24. I suggest you go to some of the college softball camps in your area. That’s a great way for those coaches to notice, and work with you! Keep playing, practicing and loving softball and don’t forget – a Junior College with a softball program is a terrific way to get and education, play softball and get noticed by 4 year schools!
    Cindy

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — July 18, 2013 @ 9:08 am

  25. hi, im 13 and I play for a travel softball team in Los Angeles. I was wondering what it would take to get on the varsity team my freshman year of high school (next year)?

    Comment by Ashley — September 8, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

  26. hey im a junior in high school i already have an idea in what school i want to go to when i graduate but i am nervous on making the team i am practicing just bout everyday and i have already sent my recruit paper but im not very tall. do you have in suggestions on upping my chances on making more collegs look at me

    Comment by Jordan — October 21, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

  27. Here are my suggestions:
    1) Always play as hard as you can – whether practice or a game.
    2) Play on the best team you can for your area
    3) Work to be the best team player on your team
    4) Out hustle everyone else
    5) Be coachable!
    Good luck!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — October 23, 2013 @ 9:42 am

  28. Hey im 15 and im a freshman .My GPA is currently 3.0 ….. I haven’t received any college looks , I don’t think . But my travel team only plays in tournaments in state and we are soon going to the World Series this summer . I also play for my high school but this is the first time my school has had a varsity team . And im starting varsity since im a well experienced player . Can you give me any idea that will help coaches come look at me with this being the first time my school has a team . Thanks &’ I appreciate the info it was great !!

    Comment by Briana — April 6, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

  29. Keep practicing and playing hard. Go to local college softball camps to let the coaches see your talent and work with you. That’s the best way for them to know you and your talent. Good luck!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — April 10, 2014 @ 11:14 am

  30. Hi. I am a coming in freshman and I am attending a newly announced D1 school. (University of South Dakota) So far USD has only recruited two freshman, so I wondering if they will have like an open field or tryouts? I live 15 hours away from USD in Ohio. I am confident in myself that I have the character, grades, adjustability, and resiliency. I play first base, and I am on the heavier side. I am 230 lbs. But, I do give it my all and I am a very strong hitter. Will they put me on a diet? (I am hoping so) Because I know I can do this, I just need to lose weight. Also, would it be possible if I started out as a hitter for someone? Or vise versa? Thank you so much.

    Comment by Sydney Carter — June 16, 2014 @ 7:48 am

  31. Sydney, you need to email the coach and find out when open tryouts will be. Let them know that you are very interested in trying out. Also, between now and then put yourself on a little diet by cutting out all fried foods and anything with sugar in it. Drinks tons of water everyday and start walking at least 5 miles a day – that will be a great start.

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — June 24, 2014 @ 11:02 am

  32. I emailed her. Thank you so much and I will.

    Comment by Sydney Carter — June 27, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

  33. Hi Sydney, my name is Brooke I play for my high school team and a travel team. this coming school year I will be a junior. I want to play in college one day but I need to get exposure. I looked up one of the colleges I wanted to go play for and the site said that I missed the camp by 5 days, the site also did not list another camp date. My question is what should I do to get seen by college coaches? I am very involved in my school and I work hard during my studies throughout the course of the school year. I am very diligent, hard working, and out going. I am willing to learn, improve my skills, and strive for my best so I can help deliver to the teams outcome. I would really appreciate feed back when you get the chance, thank you!- Brooke Bell

    Comment by Brooke Bell — July 12, 2014 @ 8:32 pm

  34. Hi I’m going to be a senior next year it will be my 5th year playing softball for my school team. Only recently have I really thought that I could actually play in college. More than anything I want to play for division 1. Our juniors and seniors were so good my freshman and sophomore year I never got a chance to play. This year, my junior year, I had the chance to start on varsity and ended up being the 4 best hitter on my team. I even knocked out a sophomore and two other juniors who had played in the years before me. The three best hitters on my team all play on travel teams. A freshman who was our top hitter, will most likely play for division 1, a sophomore who will most likely play for division 3 and a senior who will play for division 3. Do you think if I get on a travel team my senior year I could play for division 1?

    Comment by Rachel — July 26, 2014 @ 12:02 am

  35. Rachel, it sounds like you’ve continued getting better in high school – which is great! In order to continue improving your skills you should play on a travel team. It will allow you to play against better pitchers, players and teams which will help you get better. Whether you are good enough to play Division I is up to the college coaches, and not you. They’re the ones who know talent and decide which players are the ones that can fill the slots they’re looking for at their level. Play softball because you love it, not because you want to play in college and not because you have to play at a certain level. Best of luck!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — July 28, 2014 @ 11:50 am

  36. Hey! I’m going to be a junior this year and i have been playing ball since the first grade!I would love to play college softball somewhere, I just want to be playing the game I love recently I was chosen for the Top 150 softball players in Alabama, and The National Underarmor Team!I am the starting third basemen and have been for the past 2 years!i was one of the top 3 with batting avaerages on my team!I was also in the top 3 for lifting weights! Although I absolutly love softball I am also in other extra curricular activities such as band!My weekly schedule is full! I have softball on mondays and wednesdays also football games on fridays and band on tuesdays and wednesdays!And I tried travelball but it wasn’t for me!Do you think clearing my schedule and focusing more on softball will help my chances of getting a scholarship?

    Comment by maggie — July 31, 2014 @ 8:51 pm

  37. It sounds like you are loving everything that you’re doing – which is exactly why you should be doing them all! I think you need to keep doing everything, and find a program that fits your desire level – possibly D2 or D3 which allow for a more well-rounded ballplayer like yourself. Always play because you enjoy softball and never just to get a scholarship!

    Comment by Cindy Bristow — August 4, 2014 @ 12:56 pm

  38. Hi, my daughter is a 15 year sophomore pitcher. She has pitched last year and likely this year for her HS JV team as the Varsity team is loaded with pitchers. She has guested on some travel teams and did extremely well and has had multiple invites to join teams. We are actually starting a 16u travel team with a bunch of girls that I have managed in the past 2-3 years (90% of them have played travel ball already). I am curious as to what is the best way to get these girls the exposure they need. I was told that the girls need to reach out to the college coaches inviting them to come out to see them play, in addition to attending showcase tournaments and camps. Is there any other advice you could give?

    Comment by Brian — August 4, 2014 @ 6:32 pm

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