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This week in coaches corner we get baseball insight from Tracy Smith, Head Coach of Indiana University. In Coach Smith’s 14 years of coaching (Miami University and Indiana University), he has had 42 of his players drafted, including nine that have been taken in the first five rounds.
We appreciate coach Smith stopping by for this insightful look into: What he looks for when recruiting, the hardest adjustment for freshman to make, the biggest obstacles for college ballplayers, the best part of his job, top 5 things on his bucket list and more. If you haven’t yet read his email in the article, A Raw Look Inside College Baseball Recruiting, check it out.
As always, the questions are geared toward helping you become a better ballplayer by understanding what coaches look for and ways to improve.
What advice would you give a HS ballplayer looking to get the attention of Indiana University?
Get in front of their eyes. Best way is “in-person”. The next best is video. Include professional scout references if possible.
When you are recruiting position players, what are 3 things they can do to stand out? How about Pitchers?
Pos Players – Projectable body. Athletic. Possess tools.
Pitchers – Projectable body and arm action, Velocity, Good secondary stuff.
What would you say is the most difficult adjustment for freshman to make when transitioning to college baseball? And what can they do to adjust more quickly?
Toughest transition is the daily grind. Best thing they can do is get into a “healthy routine”. Eat right, sleep enough, and stay ahead of studies.
What’s the best way for an underclassmen to get more playing time on a talented team?
Keep showing up every day with a solid work ethic. Continue to put team first.
Today, what are some of the biggest obstacles that keep college ballplayers from reaching their potential?
I think sometimes kids are afraid to compete. They want things handed to them. There is nothing better than competition and adversity to help players grow.
How would you define a winning ballplayer?
Player who wants to be the “one” when the game is on the line. They do things right when nobody else is watching.
What do you think separates the good ballplayers from the great ones?
The ones that can handle adversity – being able to bounce back from failure or an unfavorable result.
Who is the most talented player you have coached? (Other than myself)
Well, besides you, I would say most talented position player is probably Josh Phegley. The most talented pitcher is Eric Arnett. Understand though, there is a big difference between the most talented and the “best”.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I love the daily interaction with my team. I love meeting new people through my job. Baseball, particularly being the coach at IU allows me to be in some pretty unique settings.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to ballplayers out there who want to take their game to the next level?
Out work the guy next to you and don’t be afraid of failure. This game is built around failure. There are no short-cuts to success!
What are the 2 books that have been most influential on your life? (They don’t have to be baseball related)
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It details the lives of two architects. One who works to please others and looks for external gratification. The other works because he loves what he does. He needs no approval from anyone, nor does he care. I admire that personality and it applies to many facets of life, including baseball. I always try to recruit “Howard Roark-type” players!
The second would be Endurance by Alfred Lansing. It’s about a captain of expedition named Ernest Shackleford. The boat becomes lodged in ice for well over a year and it details his leadership of getting all of crew eventually rescued. It is an amazing true story of overcoming adversity.
Off the top of your head, what are 5 things on your bucket list?
- Be in an action movie!!!
- Travel outside of the country more. Anywhere.
- Hang out with Will Smith for a couple days.
- See all my boys play college athletics.
- Of course, get to Omaha.