Remember when camps were something you did for a week or two in the summer or maybe over a weekend with a scouting troop? High schoolers didn’t go to camps, they worked at them to save up money for college. Not anymore. At least not for high school athletes interested in playing at the college level.
Showcase camps are a convenient, although increasingly expensive, way to get recruited. Given that most college athletes don’t receive scholarships, it can be hard to see the ROI on attending showcase camps. It’s not that showcase camps are automatically a waste of money. But they’re certain to be if you make the following mistakes.
1. You don’t have a realistic view of your ability and playing level.
This one is simple, there’s no reason to attend a showcase camp with nationally ranked D1 programs and pro scouts if you play at the D2 level. This can cost you more than just money. It means that you aren’t putting yourself in front of coaches that would actually recruit you.
2. You don’t know which coaches will be showing up for the showcase camp.
Let’s face reality here, the point of a lot of college camps is for coaches to raise money for their programs. This doesn’t automatically make such camps bad deals for players, especially if it is a school they’re interested in attending.
However, attending a camp without knowing what coaches will be present is a waste of money. Not only do you not know if there will be any colleges you’re interested in playing for, you won’t have any means of contacting the coach ahead of time (see next mistake).
3. You don’t let the coaches know that you will be attending the camp.
So let’s say there are 200 players at the camp. How does a college coach decide which ones to pay attention to? Waiting to find someone who stands out is an inefficient use of time and coaches don’t have that kind of time to waste. They show up at the camps with a list of players they’re already interested in and want to see in action. You can’t get on the list if you don’t contact the coach and let them know you’re coming.
4. You don’t introduce yourself to the coach during the camp.
If you’ve taken the time to let a coach know you’re going to be at the camp, grab any opportunity to introduce yourself! Sure, the coach has you on the list of players he’s following and you can make a good impression on the field. But the key to keep in mind here is that you want to make it as easy as possible for the coach to recruit you. And that means letting him know that you’re easy to get along with and will fit in with the team personality-wise.
5. You don’t know your academic stats.
This is another case of making it as easy as possible for a coach to recruit you. No matter how good you are, a coach can’t recruit you if you don’t meet NCAA, conference, and college academic requirements. So when the coach asks you for your GPA and test scores, be able to provide them! Who is the coach more likely to focus on, the player he knows will be academically eligible or the one that might be?
6. You don’t use every chance you have to touch the ball to demonstrate your abilities.
Remember that coaches show up to showcase camps with lists of players they’re going to follow. They aren’t going to watch you just when you make a big play–they’re watching you play. In fact, players should count themselves lucky when coaches are watching them when they make any play. After all, unless you’re a pitcher or catcher, it’s possible to go an entire game without touching the ball in play.
This means that every time you touch the ball, in play or during warm-ups, you need to play as if it’s bases loaded, 2 outs, and the bottom of the ninth. You can’t count on the game providing the opportunity to show off your skills, so you need to do it whenever you get a chance.
7. You don’t use every chance you have for positive impressions and interactions with players, coaches, and family.
This goes beyond introducing yourself to the coaches you contacted. This means offering to warm-up another player who just walks in. This means congratulating a player who has made a great play, or consoling a player who made the attempt but didn’t succeed. It means hustling on to and off of the field and wearing your uniform properly.
It also means that you don’t let your parents do the talking for you. It means that you assume that any conversation you’re having might be overheard by a coach. So no bad mouthing parents or other players. And definitely no throwing your helmet when you strike out. After all, players strike out more than they get hits-who wants a player that will be tossing equipment after most of their at bats?
8. You don’t follow-up with coaches after the camp.
Most players aren’t eager to pick up the phone and call a coach to ask if he’s interested in him as a prospect. Well guess what? If you had the chance to interact with the coach during the camp, things are a whole lot easier. You now have the opportunity to contact him just to say thank you. You can do it by email or snail mail. It’s also the perfect time to ask how he ranks you for your position, but you don’t have to ask at this point if you don’t want to. Just a simple “thank you” will keep the conversation going.
There are lots of reasons why a coach may not immediately contact you after a showcase camp. Assuming that no contact from the coach means he’s not interested can be a costly mistake. A follow-up lets you know if he is still interested or if you should move on.