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Is it ok to skip 16U?

Dec 2, 2013
1,802
113
Texas
I was the recruiting coordinator for a Nationally ranked Gold TB team. College coaches show up if you are in contact with them and they are interested. We never had a problem getting players recruited at the 18U Gold level. The coaches that are at the fields watching their already committed players can also check out prospects. During the summer of 2019 we had an already signed JUCO pitcher that moved to Texas from Missouri and the school was no longer a good fit for various reasons. She got her release while we were at Boulder. We had a D1 team that sent 3 different coaches to watch her play throughout the summer. Ultimately, they chose to pass, but they were still looking for a pitcher that late in the summer. 3 years ago we had SEC, Big 12 head coaches checking out

Before the age changes years ago, yes more recruiting was happening in the 14U/16U divisions because the coaches were trying to keep up with their peers who were verballing kids in 9th grade. The coaches these days like the slowed down process and they would rather see these prospects play against the best competition. If they are starting on their HS varsity team, they are already playing against 18U competition. All teams are not created equal. Top 20 TB teams in the country will want you to play at your age level to create the oldest, most competitive team to go out and win National Championships. Those teams won't have a problem with recruiting. Their number 1 teams in the org. will consist of P5 type players. A freshman/sophomore playing and contributing on a competitive 18U team will get some attention.
 
Jul 16, 2013
4,064
113
Pennsylvania
As you can see from the replies a lot will depend on your DD's goals. If she hope's to play at a P5 school she would probably be better off at 16u. That is where much of the recruiting occurs for those schools. However the right 18u team can still get you in front of those coaches. As was mentioned things in the northeast are somewhat different. Here 18u is more popular than 16u. And yes there were plenty of college coaches at the showcases. Just not many of the p5 schools. As was stated most d2 and d3 schools make later decisions.

Honestly as far as skill level there is nothing wrong with playing 18u. After all the girls she is playing against in high school ball will mostly be 17 and 18 years old.
 
Jun 6, 2018
176
28
Yeah sounds like your daughters desires and where located plays the key.

I can tell you here in the midwest the 16's are where the coaches go and while some go to 18's it is rare. PGF midwest championships in 2019 you had 7 day of games. The majority of coaches (85-90%) came the final 4 days for the tournament which was for the 16's and there were a handful that attended the 18's championships that Thursday and then went to the 16's but it was not many. Also, majority did not attend the whole week and very few were there for the 18's The overwhelming majority of coaches when asked said "18's are committed, we focus on 16's, unless we are made aware of an uncommitted 18 and then we do some digging to find out why."

Also, the trend over the last 5 years has been for 18u teams that are eligible to still play 16u in the fall (as they age up after December 31) have chosen to play 16u in the fall because they know more college coaches will attend their games as 16's than as 18's.
 
Feb 20, 2020
259
63
There is this to consider.

18Us are full-grown women. Their interests and conversations are those you'd expect from college girls. So that means your daughter might be exposed to dugout and practice conversations you'd rather her not have. As a freshman on the Varsity swim team, my daughter came home with lots of new ... insights .. into things I would have preferred her not know quite yet.

The softball is one thing, but remember, that this is a peer group and a social activity as well as a physical one. Just be aware that you'r daughter will be around girls who are a lot older, and that comes with both benefits and consequences.
 
Jul 22, 2015
524
63
Coaches will come to the games that players invite them to!!! If you're DD is a good player and sends invites, video, has an online profile and shares it with coaches then the coaches will attend games regardless of age. We have had ZERO problems getting coaches to attend our 18u games. The odds that your DD is a D1/P5 level player and one of those coaches will randomly wander up to watch her game, then happen to single her out of all the players on the field are pretty slim regardless of age group. If she attends the camps of schools she's interested in and communicates with coaches she won't have any problem getting the ones who are interested to her games in whatever age group you choose. As far as competition level, the main difference I have seen is that in 18u the pitching is more consistent and we see more power hitters.
 

Vertigo

Jersey Girl
May 27, 2013
968
93
Another Northeast recruiting coach here. 18U Gold with a program that is known is the way to go. They will get the prime fields at the “important“ showcases and there will always be an abundance of coaches. College coaches come to watch their committed kids play, as well as recruits who reach out to them. Most high level 18U Gold teams in the Northeast have a mixed bag of ages on their teams. Here, if you aren’t on the 18U Gold team by sophomore year of HS, you probably won’t be.
 
Nov 18, 2013
2,025
113
Coaches will come to the games that players invite them to!!! If you're DD is a good player and sends invites, video, has an online profile and shares it with coaches then the coaches will attend games regardless of age. We have had ZERO problems getting coaches to attend our 18u games. The odds that your DD is a D1/P5 level player and one of those coaches will randomly wander up to watch her game, then happen to single her out of all the players on the field are pretty slim regardless of age group. If she attends the camps of schools she's interested in and communicates with coaches she won't have any problem getting the ones who are interested to her games in whatever age group you choose. As far as competition level, the main difference I have seen is that in 18u the pitching is more consistent and we see more power hitters.
This actually happened to three of the players on DD’s 14U team at ASA Nationals, but I wouldn’t suggest anyone rely on it. More of you never know who’s watching.
 
Nov 18, 2013
2,025
113
While i do agree there are more eligible players to recruit in 16u...
Simply because they havent been recruited yet...
Wouldn't say its harder/easier
16's or18's.

D2's & D3's generally dont make offers until senior year.
With academic test scores.

Teams who already have recruited players on them
*already have college coaches watching the team!

imo its about
Players own communicating to colleges.
Team Schedule fits individuals goals.
Coaches ability to assist connecting.
I agree having coaches following committed teammates or opponents can help and you see it more at 18U than 16U.

The biggest challenge I saw for uncommitted players on 18U teams was a shift away from showcase tourneys. Committed players and families don’t always want to travel every weekend. Some of the girls are in overdrive preparing for college and others on cruise control taking a break before the grind starts. One of the 18U teams played in all the major tourneys, but there weren’t that many coaches watching because most of the players at this level were already committed. There were a few that came out to see their recruits, but it wasn’t the frenzy you see at younger levels.

I know this will vary by team and location. That was just my experience. Communication is key at army level.
 
Jun 8, 2020
7
3
Thank you everyone. She is already on a 16u team as the starter, starter on her HS varsity team that is very good. She is recieving interest from other 16U and 18U teams/organizations. This is why this has come up. Thanks for all the insight. Very appreciated.
 
Feb 1, 2021
58
18
I personally think 16U is the most important years for competitive softball from a college perspective. 18U is split between high school seniors and a few juniors and college freshman. Most of the showcase tournaments don't allow college players or don't even have 18U tourneys.

As a father of a young 18U player that will be playing in college with one year of 18U remaining, these facts were pretty hard to take. My DD and several others may essentially be kicked off the team so the rest can go play big showcase tourneys.
 

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