One great way to get yourself noticed by NCAA Division III college coaches is through attending soccer camps. But how do your pick the right one? In today’s post, we look at how to pick the right college soccer camp that fits in with your recruiting goals.
To start, let’s understand about camps from the college coach’s perspective. First, coaches use these camps to make money for themselves and/or their programs. Soccer is not a big money sport (like NCAA Division I football or basketball with big TV contracts and highly paid head coaches) and most college soccer coaches (especially at NCAA Division III) do not get paid a lot of money. To supplement their income, coaches run camps.
Second, these camps are used as recruiting tools for coaches. So it is an opportunity for the player. The environment at a camp is much different than a tournament or game. First, coaches are allowed to talk to players at camps! This is unlike tournaments
where, per NCAA rules, coaches have to wait until the tourney is over and you have been released before we can talk to you. At camps, coaches can talk to players as much as they like and get to know who you are as a person. Since the environment is not as competitive, players are more relaxed and comfortable talking. Plus coaches get to watch you practice and play.
Which camp should you attend?
First for you as a player, you have to determine why do you want to attend a camp. Is it to get noticed by a specific college coach? Are you looking to get college level instruction? Do you want to try to compete against other college bound soccer players and see if you are good enough? Are your friends going and they want you to come too? Or are you bored and need to kill some time in the summer? All valid reasons to attend a camp.
There are a ton of groups that run camps in the USA—- Nike, Coerver, Dutch Soccer School, UK Elite, etc.,— so there are lots to choose from. But how to choose?
First, referrals are always great. Talk to family or friends about their experiences. They may know a local coach who runs a great camp that does not get well publicized. Or they may have been to a huge camp and had a terrible experience. Find out!
Another great resource is the Soccer Camp Guide website—http://www.soccercampguide.com/index.html. This website may not be the most glamorous, but it has extensive content on soccer camps all across the USA and is sortable by state and date. Some may be out of date, but it is a fairly comprehensive site devoted to soccer camps.
The best place to start is with a particular college that interests you. When looking at soccer camps, you want to go to camps where the coaches of the colleges you are interested in attending will be working. So, call the colleges that you are interested and or go to their website and see if they are hosting a soccer camp. If so, try to attend it. If that college doesn’t host a camp, then contact the coach and find out if they are working at any other camps and try to attend those.
Be sure to give the coach a call and ask what the format of the camp is. Is it focused on skill development or is the coach just using it to identify players to recruit? Make sure that it matches what you are looking for.
What is the value in attending?
Camps are great recruiting tools for college coaches. The coach gets to see you as a player up close and for extended periods of time, so they can really evaluate your abilities as a player. They get to actually coach you. They also have the opportunity to speak with you one-on-one to learn about your personality as well.
For the player, you get to play in front of one or more college coaches with other players looking to play college soccer; some may be looking to attend the same school. Most of the time you will get to be coached by the college coaches, so you get to experience what they are like as coaches and how they treat their players. Many times coaches will have some of the existing college team members work at the camp, so you can get to know those players and if you have a good chemistry with them. Also, as above, you will have the opportunity to speak with the coach one-on-one to learn about them and if you think their school is a good match for you.
One of the big benefits is for the player that does not play club soccer. If you play soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball/lacrosse in the spring, going to a camp is a good way to get exposure for yourself to NCAA Division III coaches. Many college coaches do their recruiting at club tournaments and college showcases, so the players that only play high school soccer often get overlooked or under-recruited. By going to camps where there will be coaches from the schools that interest you, it gives you a chance to get on their recruiting radar.
Will it hurt me if I don’t attend?
If a coach is already recruiting you, then not attending a camp should not affect your recruiting status. If a coach is already recruiting you and you attend a camp and perform poorly however, it may adversely affect your status. The coach may change his/her mind about you as a player and take you off their radar.
Generally speaking though, not going to a camp should not affect your recruiting status. Coaches do most of their recruiting while at games (club and high school) and camps are only one other tool that they have available. In fact, many colleges do not even have camps.
The bottom line is this— college camps are used as recruiting tools by college coaches, but they do serve more than one purpose. If you do decide to attend a camp, be selective in the ones you choose. Choose the ones that fit with your goals for the future and make sure you are choosing the camp for the right reasons.
Questions? Comments? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, thanks for reading!