Many families inquire as to the effectiveness of attending college athletic camps for the purposes of getting recruited. Some people will have you believe that college camps are a waste of money if you are trying to get recruited and others believe they are the best thing since sliced bread. The truth lies somewhere in between.
Most college camps are run for a few purposes: (1) to provide the coach, staff, and program with some additional income and (2) to provide a venue to see several hundred players who may be interested in attending your school and playing for your program. There are other coaches that simply love coaching and run camps as a benefit to local athletes and the community because they enjoy passing on their knowledge to younger students but let’s stick with the first two.
A summer camp for a college coach is an easy way to see several hundred players in one place over the course of a week. Not just to see them play but to meet them and learn about them as a person. The summer for a college coach is the time of the year when they are free to really recruit at camps, tournaments, summer games, and showcases and they take full advantage of the summer in any way they can. During their season, they are not really afforded the opportunity to attend your high school games because they are playing their games at the same time.
With that being said, it’s extremely important to be realistic about certain camps. Many kids sign up for camps at schools they have no realistic shot of playing at and they then wonder why they weren’t recruited after the camp. This sometimes has a residual affect as they tell future families not to waste their money attending camps for recruiting purposes because “you won’t get recruited!”
There are several important steps you as a potential recruit need to perform before you start signing up for camps at colleges.
The first step is to identify this school as a school you “might” like to attend. If you honestly don’t have any interest in a school, then going to that camp for the purposes of trying to get recruited doesn’t make sense. If you want to go for skill-building purposes, then that is up to you.
The second step you need to take is to identify whether your skills would allow you to play for this particular program in the near future. If you are a 170-pound linebacker, attending camps at Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State won’t get you recruited by those programs to play linebacker. This is a fact of life that some people don’t want to accept and they keep attending camps at colleges they won’t be able to play for. There are 1,100 NCAA schools and your ability to find a program where your skills match up will in the end be the most important recruiting task you can perform.
The third important step is communicating with the college coach. Many people simply sign up for camp, run past the coach for a few days and then expect a phone call a few weeks later from the coach because they scored a bunch goals at camp. Some college camps may have 100 players or multiple sessions so if the coach doesn’t know who you are or that you are interested in their program, they simply may not notice you the way you want to be noticed.
If you call the coach before the camp and begin to build a relationship with them and communicate that their school is a place of interest for you, you will have a far better chance of being noticed by that coach and making the camp circuit work. But you have to do some research on the school and program first and you have to be realistic about your athletic skill. It doesn’t matter if you attend 1 camp or 100 camps, if you cannot realistically play for that school, the camp circuit might not work for you. If you find schools and programs that better fit your skills and desires, and you communicate with the coach prior to the camp, you will have a far better chance of getting recruited via a summer camp at a college.
At the end of the day you have to realize that the coach may only be recruiting 5 or 10 players a year and may already have recruits in their pipeline or committed, so the odds of you simply being discovered at a camp are not always in your favor. There is a process that needs to take place before you attend camp. We also know that virtually every college coach we have spoken to places a great deal of emphasis on their college camp each year and sees it as a valuable tool in allowing them to see athletes and allowing athletes to see them and we have met many players who have all benefited from attending college camps.
There is also a hidden benefit to some camps. Many college camps have other college coaches working at the camp. A rule of thumb is that two colleges that compete for the same type of recruits will not work each other’s camp, but many D1 camps have D2 and D3 coaches working and vice versa. This allows you the opportunity to be seen by other coaches from other schools where you might be a better fit at and we have met several players who were discovered by coaches working at an entirely different camp.
A college camp is one step in the recruiting process and requires some research and communication with coaches on your part prior to the attending a camp. You may find you are getting many camp flyers in the mail or personal requests from college coaches you are speaking to. It doesn’t mean they are recruiting you, but it’s an opportunity to possibly get recruited.
View it as an opportunity to expand your skills, meet some new players, get a sense of your ability, and as a way to be seen by college coaches.