Recruiting Essentials: The College Calendar, Summer & Fall

Brandon Hall
Mid-Atlantic Executive Director

The jump from one level to the next can always be daunting. Think back to playing at the 11-12 year old level and the jump to the “Big Field”. Think back to just a couple of years ago and realize how much faster the game has become at the current level. These jumps will continue to happen – entering college, at each level of the minors, and peaking at the Major League level.

In preparation for college baseball, and as part of the recruiting experience, we will be taking a look at some of the rules, limitations, and expectations for college baseball players throughout the year. As a younger player, exploring the college decision, understanding the calendar can help sift through potential schools, their development process, and how they organize their development plan. 

Over the next few weeks we will dive into the different sections of the calendar. Today we begin with the summer and fall, specifically looking at incoming Freshman. In the coming weeks we will tackle the post-fall / winter, the spring season, and also the summer. We hope this gives players and families a realistic view of potential expectations, allowing them to communicate at a higher level with schools and coaches as they move through the recruiting process.


The summer after graduation can be an exciting time. Some may deal with the MLB Draft and a big decision on whether to attend school or start the real world with a job as a Minor League player. For most, they will be getting ready for their Freshman year. Be aware there are pitfalls as long time friends will be separating and parents may begin to realize their “baby” is leaving the nest. For the player, the realization should begin to set in that he will be competing for time on a field with players that have 3-4 more years of experience. This experience exists on the field, in games, in practice, in the weight room, and in the classroom. There will be an ease about their day, as they know what to expect. For the incoming player, the more preparation and organization that exists, the better the transition can be in the first semester.

Players should spend the summer preparing. The way one prepares can be discussed, based on the player’s strengths and weaknesses. The college coaches will assist in this decision. Some thoughts that can be discussed with coaches in the recruiting period and again after committing include:

  • After the spring season, how much should one play prior to their first semester in school?
  • Is there a lifting program that will be sent? Is the program an in-season or off-season program?
  • Is summer school an option, allowing the player to begin lifting with future teammates and the strength staff?
  • If summer school is an option, and will the school pay for summer school?

Summer school, prior to enrolling as a full-time student, does not count towards scholarship limits or signed financial aid agreements. This means a Division I school can pay for all of summer school for an incoming player, as long as the hours remain below that of a full-time student. Incoming players that are enrolled in summer school can participate in strength and conditioning sessions with athletic staff members. The baseball coaches cannot instruct on the field yet, but the early jump in the weight room and classroom can ease a lot of the stress in the early fall semester.


During the fall semester, players will experience two distinct on-field seasons. The out-of-season sessions will include individual instruction, strength and conditioning sessions, as well as limited team practices. The limitations are imposed by the NCAA where a student-athlete may not be required to workout more than eight hours per week, with not more than four of those hours pertaining to skill instruction on the field.

Obviously, four hours per week on the field is not enough to hone a swing, get ground ball reps, and work through a throwing progression. Players will be expected to budget time, on their own, to get their work done. Upper class players can assist with the process and teams will designate “open field” times.

Some areas players can ask coaches and schools about in the recruiting process include:

  • In the fall pre-season, how many days a week do you lift?
  • What is the emphasis in the conditioning periods?
  • How are individual and team periods handled in the fall pre-season?
  • How are days setup to manage the entire roster lifting, conditioning, and working out?

The final question allows coaches to explain some of the complications of designing a plan for 35 players.  The more players that are on the roster, the more complicated the plan gets.  Some baseball programs have their own weight room and their own strength coordinator.  For those that don’t, they have to split time with other teams and there is a limited amount of time available in each weight room – remember players in every sport have to go to class so most weight rooms may not see a ton of traffic from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.


The NCAA allows baseball programs to go to their in-season mode each fall. For Division-I programs this period is typically six weeks, with the teams allowed to workout for a percentage of those days. For instance, based on how the spring season falls, a team may be allowed to practice for 28 days over a 45-day period during the months of September, October, and November. Each program can set the start and end date for their 45 day period between those three months.

During the in-season sessions, teams will be able to utilize the time allotments that match the spring season. These allotments include 20 hours per week of athletic development. The 20 hours include weight room, conditioning, and on-field.  In any one day, there is a maximum of four hours and there is not a minimum. Teams must take one day off each week, with a week defined as Monday through Sunday. Should a team decide to play outside competition, or another program, the NCAA defines a game day as only three hours. On this game day, a player that is on-field two hours prior to the game, takes BP, takes I/O, and then plays a nine-inning game, may be on field for five or six hours, but the NCAA allows teams to count this as three of the 20 hours. A few years back the NCAA allowed teams to participate in two "scrimmages" against outside competition in the fall segment allowing teams to take advantage of playing somebody else instead of playing themselves every single weekend.

Areas teams and coaches can address in the recruiting process may include:

  • Do you play outside competition in the fall?
  • What is your lifting plan during the fall team phase?
  • How do you manage the fall team phase – is it early or late in the semester?
  • What are the practice and lifting times during the team phase – are there conflicts with scheduling classes?

With more information, the hope is families and players can be more direct in learning about schools.  The recruiting process can move quick. The more families know about the next step in the process, the more they may be able to differentiate between selected schools. 


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