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Summer is just around the corner and for many high school soccer players, that means the opportunity to attend College Identification camps, clinics, and showcases. These events can be very valuable to current high school players who want to continue to their academic and soccer career in college as they are designed for individuals who are looking to compete against higher level competition as well as gain exposure from college coaches.
Before we provide some tips and strategies to make the most out of your college camp experience, you need to understand the different types of camps.
There are three types College ID Camps and Clinics we will discuss:
- College ID Camp hosted by a third party.
- College ID Camp hosted by a College Program.
- College ID Camp / Clinic hosted, managed, and run by a college program only.
Four reasons to attend a College ID Camp/Clinic or Showcase:
- Gain college exposure
- Improve your skills to become a better player
- Compete against higher level of competition in order to evaluate your abilities against other players
- Experience a specific college program environment
Whatever your reason is to attend a college ID camp/clinic, be sure you select the right type of camp in order to get the most out of your college camp experience.
Independent College ID Camp
An organization that has no affiliation with any college program will bring in college coaches to work their camps. Many college coaches who do the camp circuit over the summer use it as an opportunity to earn extra income. It is also gives the coaches a chance to do some recruiting while working the camp. While college coaches are there they will train, identify, and evaluate the campers that are in attendance.
College ID Camps hosted by a college
There are many Head college coaches that will run their own camps in the summer. They bring in a number of other college coaches to work their camps.
College ID Camp/Clinic managed and staffed by that college program only
These tend to be smaller and shorter events. These camps typically last 1-3 days where prospective student-athletes will get the opportunity to experience what it would be like to attend that school and play for that program. Be aware that these types of camps are also money makers for the college programs. Be sure that you have had some interaction with the staff and there has been a personal invitation from the program. Just about every college program, DI, DII, and DIII has their own College ID camp/clinic throughout the year. Visit each program’s website to find out more info about possible camps or clinics. The one-day clinics are a great opportunity to get a feel of what it would like to play that for that program. They are typically pretty affordable at $75 – $150 for the day. If you want to get identified by a program you have a better odds to attend 4 – 5 one day clinics then going to one of the big camps and pay about the same amount.
Now that you have discovered your reasons to attend an ID camp and selected the camps you are going to attend, here are some tips to really make the most out of your College Camp Experience.
1. Make Contact with the Coaches
Review the list of college coaches who will be attending the camp. If there are schools that you may be interested in, write to the coaching staff expressing interest in their program. Let them know that you will be attending the camp and that you look forward to meeting them and having them watch you play. Be personal specific and honest! You should start building a relationship with the college coach before arriving for camp.
2. Get Face Time with a College Coach
While you are at camp to find the opportunity to personally meet the coaches for the programs you’re interested in. Try to take a couple minutes to introduce yourself and tell them a little bit about yourself.
The best times to do that is during check-in if coaches are available, walking to and from the training fields, and in the cafeteria. Be aware college coaches are not permitted to have any recruiting conversations with you during the camp. Be aware that coaches won’t be able to have recruiting conversations with you, this is more an opportunity to let them know who you are.
3. Be Vocal and Positive on the Field
College coaches look for players who possess leadership qualities. Any player who has a voice on the field will immediately stand out as long as it is in a positive or constructive way. If you have the opportunity to be vocal, speak up as a positive influence and leader for your team. All of these qualities demonstrate your relentless and positive attitude, and those are two key characteristics all coaches find impressive.
4. Train Hard, Play Hard and Run Hard
If you are trying to make a good first impression on a college coach, your attitude and your work ethic are your most controllable assets, and one of the best ways to set yourself apart from the crowd. If you lose the ball, work hard to get it back within the context of the game. If you have the ball know when to keep it and when to give it up. If you get knocked down, get back up. If you are on the field, stay focused on the ball and always keep your feet moving.
Be sure that you respect all members of the camp including the coaches, counselors, teammates, and campus staff.
College coaches are not just evaluating you on the field but they are watching how you carry yourself off the field as well.
6. Request Feedback
College coaches seek players who are students of the game. A player who shows a coach they are willing to learn and improve will separate themselves from players who don’t go that extra mile. Use this opportunity to engage with coaches about your game. Speak to them after a training session or game about what you might be able to work on to improve. Coaches love when a player takes ownership over their own athletic development.
Playing sports should be fun…that is why we play! If you are not enjoying yourself, it will show in how you approach the game. Coaches want players on their team who have passion for the game. These are the players who believe working hard and improving is fun.
You should always follow up with any college coaches you interacted with while at camp. You should thank them for working with you or taking the time to speak with you. If you can try to reference something specific, conversation or drill to help trigger their memory.
If you follow through with these 8 simple steps, no doubt you will stand out as qualified prospective student-athlete to some college coaches. Obviously, your abilities will be an important aspect of this process but on a level playing field these things will give you the edge over your competitors.
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