Camps are a big part of the recruiting and evaluation process. Unfortunately, there are a lot of choices and even more confusion about what camps offer and which camps make sense for a player to choose. Let’s help you sort it all out.
Exposure Camps are created to put as many prospects in front of as many college coaches, as possible. There’s usually an instructional component where campers have an opportunity to work on their skills with the college coaches, who are there to instruct and recruit. There is also a game component where players are divided into teams and scrimmage in front of the college coaches who are “coaching” the teams.
How much instruction takes place depends on the camp and the coaches who are there. I have worked dozens of these camps and have seen the amount of instruction vary from an hour to the majority of the camp. There is no universal format that the organizers follow so it is up to each person to do a little research about the camp so you can decide if it is offering what you are looking for.
The majority of the exposure camps that I have worked at featured the games more than anything else. As a college coach, I found this to be a little frustrating because I already had plenty of chances to see the kids play. What I really wanted was to have the opportunity to see how they responded to coaching, if they were receptive learners, and if the could pick up on what I was trying to teach.
My biggest complaint was that the games played in this setting were always too unorganized. Our game requires some organization to be played at a high level. When you are putting together a “camp” team where the players often don’t even know each other, it doesn’t lend itself to any organization. No cut-offs, no relays, confusion about bunt and slap defense and the list of missing pieces starts to get pretty long.
My second biggest complaint is that, too often, many of the coaches working at the camps aren’t really there to recruit. They’re often there to supplement their income. If they are lucky enough to stumble across a player, then so be it. If you are attending one of these camps with the hope that you’ll be able to make a huge impression on a big-time coach from a big-time program, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Showcase Camps are exposure camps tied directly to a showcase tournament. They’re designed to take advantage of the fact that players and their families are already coming to town for the tournament and are likely to attend a camp too. The format is usually the same as exposure camps, often with a more abbreviated schedule.
New NCAA recruiting rules put limitations on when a camp can be operated. One of the most restrictive is that, players can’t miss school to attend, which has greatly changed when these events can be scheduled.
Attending these camps can have some value for a player looking to play softball at the college level but they do have some real limitations. Do your research to be sure that you are getting the value from these camps that you are looking for.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.
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