Friday, September 9, 2016

How to Choose Between Taking the ACT, SAT

Choosing which standardized test to include in your portfolio is, without a doubt, an important part of your college application strategy.

Many years ago, your choice would have been determined largely by geography. Students applying to Midwestern schools took the ACT, while students applying to schools on the East and West coasts took the SAT.
Today, however, most colleges and universities place equal weight on results from either test. This ambivalence provides an opportunity for savvy applicants to play to their key strengths as a result of the different structures of each exam.
1. Pick the exam that suits you best: Research is the first step in choosing which standardized assessment is right for you. If a school on your list prefers one test over the other, then it is essential to focus your efforts accordingly.
If you have yet to narrow your college search, then you should focus on determining which test would allow you to excel most. Taking both tests is rarely the best option. They differ enough that your time spent studying for one will not likely improve your score on the other. 
It is a more efficient use of time and resources to focus on maximizing your score on just one of them. An excellent result from one test will outweigh merely good scores on both of them.
2. Assess your critical thinking skills and overall knowledge: One of the differences between the two exams is that the SAT primarily assesses reasoning ability, while the ACT focuses more on strict knowledge. Of course, there is some crossover in material.
Both tests, for example, have a math section and both require a solid foundation in geometry and algebra. The SAT is more likely to include story problems and creative application of the basic rules of geometry. The ACT, by contrast, tends to be more straightforward.
Additionally, the ACT includes basic trigonometry among the math questions. The main difference becomes one of problem-solving versus a wider range of tested concepts.
In the English section, the SAT places a greater emphasis on reading comprehension and vocabulary. In fact, it could be said that the SAT is notorious for its emphasis on vocabulary, to the extent that some of its study guides exist solely to focus on helping students get up to speed.
The reading comprehension portions of the SAT also present some challenging time management issues due to the length of the passages and the difficulty of some of the associated questions.
Although the ACT includes a reading comprehension section as well, it focuses more on grammar and syntax. As in the math sections, the ACT is more a test of knowledge than of reasoning and problem-solving.
3. Factor in your science skills: The final difference is that the ACT includes a section on science – a subject that is entirely absent from the SAT. For students with a good background in high school-level biology, earth science and physics concepts, this can be an opportunity to shine.
Furthermore, the ACT requires interpretation of graphs and charts, as well as knowledge of the proper construction of scientific hypotheses. The broader range of topics, however, can make studying for the test that much more challenging for students who do not already have a good footing in the subjects.
One of the best options for a student deciding which test to take is to take practice exams for both, either online or from a professional prep book. Be sure to follow the exams' formats as closely as possible.
[Check out these five tips to improve your ACT score.]
Complete each test in one sitting while observing the appropriate time limits and other rules. Most students are able to do very well on the SAT when they have unlimited time to consider their answers – the time limits are an inevitably large part of the overall challenge.
When comparing your scores, look at the percentile results. Remember that raw scores – the number of correct or incorrect answers – matter only relative to the results of other students.
If your practice scores on each test land you in a comparable percentile, focus on the test that feels more natural to you. In almost all cases, however, your goal should be to center your efforts on the one test that plays to your strengths the most.



Monday, May 23, 2016

An Open Letter to the Athlete We Must Stop Recruiting

This is a letter sent to a perspective recruit after the coach looked closely at the player:

Dear Prospective Student-Athlete,
I received your introductory two-line email and read through it. I must say your first sentence was painfully familiar as you introduced yourself by first name only. I assumed if you were trying to make an impression that you would have paid more attention to punctuation, but my assumption appears incorrect. While your opening email failed to identify your last name, what year in school you are, where you are from, or what position you play, you managed to include your most pressing question as to whether our team is "giving out scholarships".
A week later, I received a second email with full color resume attachment including your action photos, and a variety of links to related newspaper articles. Each of these items were compiled in an orderly fashion and sent out directly from both your parents' emails.
While it took a bit to thumb through the long list of your impressive extracurricular activities, please thank your parents for putting this packet together and understand that it would have been far more beneficial for our staff to speak to you personally by way of an old school phone call. As my staff sent correspondence to your personal email, we have received only a return from your parents apologizing and explaining that you are simply "too busy to answer".
As a word of advice, while many college coaches support parental enthusiasm, initiative taken by the athlete is crucial if you are serious about connecting with a quality program. Our staff explained to your parents that we would prefer to connect with you directly, but they continue to respond on your behalf. This will be a red flag for any coach, so please be aware of this feedback being a possibility from any of your other options.
When you visited the campus with your parents, the first thing I noticed is that they did most of the talking for you. However, when you did speak, you were openly correcting and verbally scolding them when you deemed their information sharing inaccurate. As a coach, an athlete who displays disrespect, especially to their parents, is a red flag in the recruiting game of analysis and observation.
As we toured the campus I took copious mental notes including a short ponder on how you were too busy for a returned phone call or email to our staff yet, your email-ready smartphone was all but attached to your hand the entire unofficial visit.
Upon your departure, our staff reviewed your stats, strength numbers and transcripts. All are impressive, but of course we had to see you compete. Unfortunately, the highlight film you left us with that was edited to perfection to omit mistakes, was unhelpful. 
Despite my reservations, I made the trip to watch your game live so I could determine if your resume matched your talent. After observing only a few minutes of the team warm-up, I noted that you were clearly the most gifted on your squad. However, your talent was unfortunately overshadowed by the lack of energy and effort you displayed. 
At halftime, the team huddled up and as always when observing recruits, I honed in carefully on your demeanor and body language. I watched you walk in the opposite direction of your teammates and take a seat on the bench away from the group. You did not return to the team circle until prompted by your assistant coach. As the head coach spoke, I observed you break off into a private conversation with another teammate, rather than offering the coach your attention.
In the second half, when you scored I noticed you waited for the other players to huddle around you and celebrate. In contrast, when a teammate scored, you retreated to your position without acknowledging or congratulating them.
You added much depth in the scoring category with some impressive runs but when you made mistakes you became vocal and eager to point out where your teammates needed to improve. You had moments of greatness but they were followed by sporadic lulls of half-hearted effort. 
As you are the team captain, I found it disappointing that you did not contribute to the post game team discussion. I watched as your mother brought over snacks and saw that you made no effort to assist her in bringing those large containers of cupcakes from the bleachers out to your 40 other teammates. Last, as the rest of the team broke the field down and put equipment away, you found a quiet spot on the empty bench to text on your phone.
Perhaps as a high school-age athlete, these are behaviors you are simply unaware of. In a world where you are being taught the X's and O's of mastering a sport, so much practice and dialogue in character building is diminishing. I realize that you have been told repeatedly by many of your previous coaches that you are amazing in your sport. However, players like you, with similar demeanor are a dime a dozen. 
Since you have been a star in your sport for quite a while with coaches and parents who have clearly allowed these details to slip through the cracks also, you are not entirely to blame. However, please bear in mind, none of this makes you a bad person only potentially, a bad teammate. The attributes I am judging you on happen to be far more important than any of your trophies, all-star selections or travel team accolades.
There is no doubt you are talented. However, from my experience, here are the 10 things I know about athletes like you.
1. Your incredible talent is the same talent that in your sophomore year of college will suddenly suffer an ego blow when a new freshman arrives with equal or greater talent. Battling your feeling of ownership over your position and feeling threatened is inevitable. 
2. Rather than working hard to better your game, you are more likely to be the athlete that is constantly comparing your success to others rather than focusing on growth for yourself. This will become a tedious and exhausting process for your coaches and team to constantly have to reassure you of your self worth and value.
3. As those around you put in the work, rather than be grateful to be surrounded by a committed group of individuals who share common goals, you are more likely to resent them and seek out allies to split the team support in half and create locker room chatter.
4. In the event you see time on the bench you may not be emotionally prepared, willing to engage or support the teammate who is starting over you. Also, it is likely you will find it challenging to support the success your team obtains when they win without you on the field.
5. When you become unhappy with your own performance you are more likely to blame your coach, teammates or anyone other than yourself.
6. Since your previous coaches and adult guidance have fallen short in emphasizing the importance of accountability, you will likely be that much more of a challenge for our staff and program to work with.
7. Aside from your time in college, the end goal of being a student-athlete is to get a degree while playing a sport you love. If your goal as an athlete-student is to get a starting position while earning a degree you tolerate, your goals will be out of alignment with the program from the start. 
8. Athletes who truly work for their program become stronger people who work well with others and are able to admit their weaknesses in order to improve. If I am forced to spend your first two years of college trying to catch you up on late lessons of being accountable and respectful, it is probable you will spend your second two years resenting me which ultimately leads to an ambush of bad senior exit interview feedback.
9. Athletes are treasured in the workforce and therefore, you are likely to land a job after you graduate. However, if you fail to get along with those in our program you are prone to carrying this over into your professional life. If you are unhappy with your boss or coworker you will be more likely to find yourself unequipped to work through your problem without soliciting complaining or quitting.
10. By choosing not to recruit you, I am saving my team culture. On the bright side, perhaps if you are rejected this will be your first opportunity to face adversity and grow from it.
I recognize that it is possible you could change with guidance by coming to our program. However, the investment on my end presents high risk to the health of team morale, my livelihood and sanity. In my younger coaching years I believed far too often that many like you were capable of transformation. Over time, without consistent support from the powers that be, I have lost my fair share of those battles and have watched colleagues lose their jobs when athletes like you are unsatisfied. I am a great coach who takes so much of my success and failure home with me at night and am actively making the choice to choose ethics and attitude over talent.
Today I crossed you off my list as a potential recruit despite your obvious talent. Over the thousands of hours I have spent away from my family recruiting, answering emails, calls, official visits, watching game film and logging contacts and evaluations, I have learned from my mistakes. As a result, although the athlete playing right next to you has half the stats and three quarters of your speed, they are supportive, determined and selfless. This kind of athlete, will be our next signee.
Please take these words and advice into consideration and I wish you all the best.

Monday, March 21, 2016

About ODM Scores

The Allister Index is relied upon by college coaches everywhere


OnDeck Measurements is the recognized national leader in softball athletic testing measurables used by the college softball coaching community. OnDeck Measurements or ODM is the official testing arm for OnDeck Softball the authority in fastpitch recruiting. The individual scores, along with the corresponding players Allister Index (AI) generated from the scores using a proprietary algorithm, has become the single most important objective statistical measurements in the area of recruiting.


A level I test is the highest protocol and returns an Athletic Index. The results of the ODM Level I test are put into a proprietary algorithm, and the resulting number is the players Athletic Index. This single number ranks that player against every player who has ever been tested. College coaches are looking for that Athletic Index number as they evaluate players in the recruiting process.

The results of these metrics have become an objective measurement that offers a clear snapshot of a player’s softball athletic abilities. College coaches across the country are using these measurements in a variety of ways as they zero in on the players they wish to recruit and offer scholarships to.

College Coaches and Scouts can log into their FastPitch Recruits account and see all detailed information including players profile data, individual rankings and more. All players can manage and promote their scores in their player portal.


  • This is the highest level of testing administered under the strictest of protocols only by ODM certified admins
  • This test will return an Athletic Index and rank the player nationally
  • The scores will be visible to all college coaches
  • Scores can be searched and compared to current college players by college scouts
  • Scores are visible on the player’s profile and can be managed in the player FPR portal
  • Scores are added to and the player is ranked on the national leaderboard
  • Players are ranked nationally by each individual test and as well by Athletic Index


The real end game for ODM and these metrics is in Player Development! These scores are a true objective benchmark a player can use to better their skills. We created the ODM Training Solutions to connect the players and trainers in this effort.

A level II test follows the same protocols as a Level I however it does not return an Athletic Index. This is the first step a player will take in the development process. Level II scores are added to and players are ranked on a regional board so players can see how they stack up against their peers.


Once a player gets their Level II scores, they can select an ODM certified trainer in their area. That trainer is able to enter their scores into the FPR player/trainer portal. Goals are then set for the player’s development. The trainer will Level III test the player each month. This data is visible only to the player and trainer. Once the player reaches their goal, they will re-test in a Level II to verify their performance gains. See a step guide on the process below.

Once the player feels their scores are at a "Recruitable" level, they will get Level I tested and ranked nationally. Their scores will now be available to all college coaches and the player will use those scores to promote themselves to colleges.
ODM Player Development System
  • The tests are administered and data entered only by a certified testing center
  • The tests are exactly the same as a Level I test
  • An Athletic Index is NOT returned in results
  • These scores are NOT made visible to college scouts nor can they be searched by college coaches
  • Scores are posted to regional boards so players can compare their results to their peers
  • Scores are visible in the players FPR player portal but are not shown on their profile
  • Once a player is confident that their scores are at a "Recruitable" level they will get Level I tested
  • The tests are administered and results added only by a certified trainer
  • No Index is returned
  • These results are visible only to the player and trainer
  • The test is given monthly until the player’s goal date
  • Players can see their performance gains or shortfalls each month
  • Trainers provide their players ODM specific weekly workouts
  • Players are trained the correct protocols for each test
It is very important that every competitive softball player in the country get her verified OnDeck Measurements and her Allister Index. These scores are posted to the player's Fastpitch Recruits athletic profile so that the player can promote herself and college scouts can access the scores.

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Student-athletes need to behave appropriately at all times and in all forums. They should be particularly aware of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, or other emerging technologies. In fact, enough cannot be said about the importance of being aware of these emerging technologies. Anyone can post a picture of another student, and an athlete whose exploits are publicized on Facebook might lose a scholarship offer.
Follow these best practices when using social media:
1.) If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it then Don’t post it.
2.) If you even hesitate for a second to post it, Don’t. There is a reason you hesitated in the first place.
3.) Make sure your default picture (and all others) are appropriate.
4.) Your Twitter handle and Facebook name and URL should not include profanity or slang.
5.) Privacy settings only go so far. Social media is public, always keep that in mind.
6.) Respect yourself and respect others. You are conversing on a public platform after all.
7.) The laws of the real world still apply in the world of social media, i.e.; underage drinking is against the law, harassment, hate crimes, cyber bullying, etc. Remember that teachers, coaches, teammates, peers, and other important influencers are watching and listening.
8.) ReTweeting profanity is no different than using it in your own original Tweets. Don’t do it.
9.) Avoid replying to, or ReTweeting Twitter users with vulgar names.
10.) Is who you are representing yourself to be online, who you want the world to see you as? Be a responsible social media user.
11.) Don’t allow a hater to bait you into a “social beef.” Ignore them and remember their actions are usually fueled by jealousy.
12.) If you don’t like something a media member wrote about you, your coach or your teammate, ignore it.  Engaging in a public Twitter of Facebook argument is a battle you won’t win.
13.) Consider opinionated topics off limits. Avoid commenting on sexual orientation, race, and religion.
14.) There are many other teams and student-athletes at your school. Take the time to give them a shout-out when they do big things.
15.) What happens in the locker room stays there. Things that are said in private team settings should never find their way onto social platforms.
16.) Don’t tweet or post during class. That’s like disrespecting someone (in this case, your teacher) behind their back. Always be mindful that your teachers may be monitoring your social accounts.
17.) If your coaching staff and/or athletic administrators give you guidelines to follow for Twitter and/or Facebook, be sure to trust and follow them closely. Your team and staff has your long-term best interests in mind.
18.) Your athletic compliance office is monitoring your social accounts. The NCAA has acknowledged that it monitors student-athlete activity on Twitter as well. Even if you don’t compete in a major conference or a revenue sport, don’t be fooled into believing nobody is paying attention.
19.) Multiple mentions of the same business could be considered an endorsement, which is impermissible according to NCAA legislation.
20.) Act as a representative of your sport and your team and always maintain a professional profile.


College coaches want to know who you are.
They absolutely want to know who you are as a student-athlete — both a student, in the form of your transcripts and SAT/ACT scores, if you’ve already taken them, and an athlete, in the form of your highlight or skills video and descriptions of your role on your team.
But more than that, college coaches want to know who you are as a person. It’s sometimes called the intangibles of recruiting: who are you? What makes you tick? What kind of player will you be like on the team?
There are a number of ways you can highlight what kind of player you are in an online profile specifically packaged to show what kind of student-athlete you are. But remember that college coaches are also going to look at your social media accounts — yeah, even your Instagram account — and think about what kind of player they’re recruiting.
If you want to learn more about how to use your social media to prove to college coaches you’re the best athlete for their team, read about the 7 top ways you can use social media to your advantage in recruiting.

College coaches use social media to promote their programs to student-athletes

Especially with Signing Day coming up, college coaches and athletic departments are taking to social media to celebrate recruits joining them, and to stay at the top of other student-athletes’ minds. After all, your college has to be the right fit for you.
“Nothing has impacted recruiting more in the last 20 years than social media,” Nebraska director of player personnel Ryan Gunderson told ESPN. “It has revolutionized recruiting. Sure, cell phones have had a huge influence in the process, allowing recruiters to go mobile with their communication. But with today’s technology, cell phones are merely a vehicle for social media use.”

There are even more people than college coaches using social media to watch high school student-athletes.

And I don’t just mean your high school teachers or schools’ admissions departments.
Back in December we covered the story of Tre’Vour Simms, who will be making his written commitment next week on Signing Day.
What we didn’t cover — and I’m still not going to link to, because there were some pretty nasty words exchanged — was that no matter which tweets you clicked on, fans from both schools that Tre’Vour was considering were getting pretty upset about such a top recruit.
“The whole process was honestly so negative,” former Oklahoma State QB commit Nick Starkel told ESPN. “Fans hop onto social media and take shots at high school kids who are being asked to make the biggest decision of their lives so far. Some fans don’t realize that we’re just kids making a huge decision. It’s very disrespectful when you get tweets saying, ‘I hope you never succeed.’”

What can student-athletes do on social media to get recruited?

When we look at any social media platform, it doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about whether it’s a college coach, or a rabid fan from a rival school (or a really excited fan from a school you’re verbally committed to!) or a parent, or a teacher, or your great-aunt Sue: always make sure your social media profile is showing you as a model student, a model athlete, and a model citizen.
Coach Enquist recently wrote about the microbehavior of courage, where she said that the number one trait college coaches look for is courage.
By that she meant that coaches want to see a student-athlete who won’t just say no to partying — they’ll talk to their friends on the team about a bad decision they might be tempted to make, and convince others to make what might seem like the unpopular decision.
The same is true for how athletes who want to get recruited should use social media. It might seem funny to put a ridiculous gif up, or to join in a social media fight among Amber Rose, Kanye and the Kardashians.
But when you think about all the people who are going to be watching your social media account, and thinking about whether you’re the perfect fit for their college spot, staying focused to your school, your sport and how you’re enacting positive change in the world is going to do you far more good in your recruiting journey.


I’m sure a parent, coach or teacher has warned you about putting things online. Sometimes it feels like over time, various social media outlets have done more harm than good.
With college coaches and administrators heavily monitoring twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the other social media outlets of their prospects, we definitely hear more cautionary tales then smart social behavior when the topic comes up among collegiate programs.
But there’s good news.
There are ways you can use social media to your advantage when it comes to your recruitment. Like various tips on posting we’ve offered in the past, they’re all pretty simple.
Take a look at the top seven things you should do while you use your social media accounts so you’ll help — not hinder — your recruiting.

Search your name and delete old accounts

See what comes up. If there’s anything you don’t like the look of, research where it came from and get it taken down or taken care of.
Additionally, deleting old accounts minimizes different social media avenues that are putting your information out there – and getting rid of the ones you no longer monitor.

Follow coaches

Following coaches at colleges that interest you is good for a few reasons.
First of all, you get all of their updates so you can keep up with the team and what the program is up to. You can also get a feel for the coach and his or her personality. Even if they have someone else posting for them, chances are they have the majority of day over the voice and content they’re putting out there.
There’s also a chance the coach will follow you back once you’ve followed them, which could help you gain attention if you make the right kind of posts.

DM (Direct Message) coaches that follow you

While there are rules regarding when, where, and how a college coach can contact a high school student-athlete, a student-athlete can DM a college coach at any time. Depending on the time period or other factors surrounding NCAA rules, the coach may not be able to write the player back, but as with calling, a student-athlete can send a DM without penalty, at any time.

Take 30 seconds before you post anything

Ask yourself: “What is my message? Is there any chance this could be misinterpreted negatively? Is there any chance this could hurt my recruitment or reputation?”

Post updates on your recruiting

  • Academic and athletic awards or accolades
  • Recaps of combine/camp performance
  • College visits
  • Firm scholarship offers

Monitor the people you follow

As you do your best to keep your social media pages as squeaky clean as possible, pay attention to the people you’re following. A coach may check who you follow to get a feel for your interests.
If you follow someone or something questionable, or with a crass handle, it makes the most sense to unfollow them for the time being.

Be gracious and humble

Remember: posts you put online have little to no tone in them, so coaches who haven’t met you in person might not understand your sarcastic sense of humor. Plus, this is just a good rule of thumb at all times.

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