With summer camp season approaching, student-athletes anxiously await their opportunity to jump-start the college recruiting process. Camps can give athletes the opportunity to compete against other athletes from around the country. They are especially attractive to athletes who are trying to get discovered by college coaches.
But it is important for you as parent to help manage your athlete's expectations about what attending a sports camp can and can't do.
First of all, student-athletes won't get "discovered" at camp; most camps are there to provide specialized training. They are often crowded with hundreds of athletes, meaning that none will are likely to get close individual attention from coaches.
College coaches will already have a list of the athletes they want to scout during the event, so it is important to know where your athlete ranks on the coaches' lists before they go. Make sure a relationship is already established between the college coach and the athlete before they go to the camp. The coach should have received the student-athlete's profile and an email expressing his/her interest in the school's academic and athletic program.
Also keep in mind that college camps will be staffed with additional coaches from other colleges to assist with the instruction. It is important to contact those coaches ahead of the camp as well. This is your son or daughter's chance to make their first impression as a player. If they are not at their best, then the first impression might not be a good one. Be sure your child attends camp physically and mentally prepared to play. If not at their best, then my advice is simple: don't go.
Some programs have camps just for seniors; they might hold an "advanced" or "elite" camp, and/or several one-day "I.D." camps. These are important to attend, as the coach might only select a few recruits, thus eliminating the number of athletes at a regular camp. Again these are important opportunities for your child to get noticed and recognized as a potential recruit.
Camps and combines are an excellent way to find out where an athlete ranks against the competition. It is important to choose camps wisely based on your child's ability to play at these schools and that they fit their academic and social needs.
The takeaway message: first impressions are lasting impressions and hard to change.
[Editor's Note: For more a more personal approach to college recruiting, visit Tim's website].