Know before you go: college-sponsored sports camps

know-before-you-go-college-sponsored-summer-campsThere are different schools of thought on the subject of sports camps and recruiting clinics. Some believe they are a waste of money because “if your child is good enough, they will get noticed” and others believe they are essential. I think the truth lies somewhere in between.

First of all, camps, clinics and showcases make it easier for college recruiters and coaches to evaluate hundreds of players at one time. It’s exciting to receive an invitation to one of these events, especially if it is affiliated with a college you or your child are especially fond of, but there are some things to consider before investing the time and money. Below are some ideas and thoughts to help you determine the best fit for your child.

A letter doesn’t mean you’re being recruited

You may be receiving information in the mail about college camps. This doesn’t mean they are recruiting you, more like they are giving you an opportunity to get recruited (and an opportunity for the school to make some money). Look at it as a chance for your child to expand their skills, meet some players and get a sense of where their abilities lie on the scale; they’ll be the little fish for once. Choose a camp that will provide the instruction and experience you are looking for, and think of the recruiting opportunity as a bonus.

Be realistic

Make sure your skill level measures up to the school’s team that is offering the camp. To get a good understanding of where your kid fits in, have a meeting with your child and their current coach. If qualified people tell you that you have the best chance at playing at the DIII level, don’t seek out DI camps with the expectation you will happen to be recruited. The smaller the school, the cheaper the camp, so being realistic can also save you money. Don’t pay $1,200 with the hopes your child will wear YOUR team’s jersey.

Communicate

Communication with the coaches and staff before, during and after the event is essential. Just being one of 500 kids showing up and going through the drills isn’t going to get a previously unknown athlete a call. Build a relationship with the coach, have your kid call them, send them a link to an introduction video, ask questions about their program, show genuine interest. You will have a much better chance of being noticed by that coach and making the camp circuit work for you.  Don’t overlook the assistant coaches! They are the ones making the recruiting decisions early in the process.

Everyone is watching

It’s important for your child to keep cool and be cordial, regardless of how their day is going. Many of these camps have instruction and coaching help from other college staff, so there’s an opportunity to be seen by more than just one school. Attitude, effort and character are always being evaluated during these events, and not just by the staff sponsoring the event.

Going back to being realistic, you have to realize that the coach is probably only looking to recruit five or ten players, and there may be several already committed. The odds of being discovered by the college of your dreams at their sponsored summer camp are not always in your favor. There are some programs that place a great deal of emphasis on their summer camps whereas some will just use it as a way to earn revenue. Do your research, ask the coaches how many players they generally recruit from their camps and talk to former attendees if you can.

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