For the high school age player it is as important to consider the summer college camps as an opportunity for exposure and to visit the college campus. Also provides an opportunity for quality instruction and coaching. The college program's summer camp(s) are held for two primary reasons… provide a recruiting tool for the college coaches (potential future players) and a revenue source for the program.
The college summer camp(s) is also an opportunity to meet the college coaches, visit the campus and meet the academic advisors. We suggest scheduling a visit to the admissions office and a tour the day before or day after in conjunction with the camp and let the coaches know of a player's interest in the school. The NCAA rules prohibit a coach from calling a player prior to July 1st of the summer preceding his senior year, so you may have to make more than one telephone call to reach a coach.
Many colleges will have a “Prospect Camp” for high school juniors and seniors. These are the best to attend for the primary reason that the college coach is looking and you are available; avoid camps that are heavily marketed at large campus colleges and have an attendance of more than 120 players, it makes for a long day! Multiple colleges at one larger campus college is a bonus when attending this type of camp, this allows multiple college exposure and usually involves a 20-minute rotational “meet the coach” where you can ask questions on the field. Ask if their program has such a camp, sometimes it is not clearly marked in the camp brochure.
The best college camp instructional staffs will be made up of the host college coaching staff, local or regional area smaller college head coaches and assistants, junior college coaches and current college players. Attending a camp with this type of instructional staff is the optimal chance for exposure. Not only does a player have a chance to display his skills in front of the host school coaches, but also other schools that you may not have considered attending.
Be realistic about your ability, potential and reality of playing at certain colleges… why would a player from Vermont, attend a camp in Arizona knowing they would never attend a college in Arizona! A better use of resources may be closer to home or regionally. Use the common sense factor and your breakdown of colleges athletically, academically, financially and socially. We like to refer to the list of colleges as your “Dirty Dozen”; 12 colleges including DI, DII, DIII, JUCO, NAIA and your top college of choice, if you do not pursue playing college ball.
Players should not attend a college summer baseball camp in hopes of receiving a great amount of one on one instruction. That type of need is better served by finding a local academy for private lessons. Remember, you are attending the camp mainly for exposure. You want the coaches from the colleges you are interested in to see you play. Some colleges will recruit players strictly off video. These tend to be smaller colleges or schools without any recruiting budget. All coaches would prefer to see you play and personally meet you at a camp and is an effective way to get in front of several college coaches in a very short period of time.
Before you attend any event, it’s a good idea to contact the coaches via email, let them know you have a profile and video on the Bird Dog Scout website before the camp and let them know that you will be there. It is best to be a name on the clip board, rather than a name that needs to be added. That way coaches will know to focus on you and they don’t have to “sell” you their college; a win-win for both. There may not always be opportunities during the camp to talk to the coach but make sure you introduce yourself to the coach at the end of the camp and ask questions. Once you get back home, send a thank you note the college coaching staff.
Coaches have various ways of responding to let you know that they aren’t interested in recruiting you. Some may offer a detailed critique of your batting stance, but if you’re “lucky”, they will just say that you are not a fit for their program… they already have three shortstops, not recruiting your position during this class year or that they won’t be actively recruiting you. Yes, I said “lucky”, they have just saved you the expense of attending a camp and finding out then they aren’t interested; time to move on! Of course, you can decide to go ahead and attend another camp in an effort to change their minds but at least you go in with the right expectations.
Camps and showcases come in all shapes and sizes these days. Over the past decade they have continued to pop up all over the country. Local showcases to national showcases, small camps focused on teaching the fundamentals to large camps focused solely on pitching or catching. Camps and showcases have become events in themselves and leave players and parents wondering… which camps are the best to attend… our staff can help!