Recruiting Tip Emails 4 "College Softball Camps"
College Softball Camps
By Nic Nelson, Head Softball Coach, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL
College softball camps are a great way to get noticed by a coach and their staff. But more importantly it’s a great way for you to get to know and learn more about the coach, staff, players and the college and surrounding area. Not to mention the chance to learn a little more about how to play the game. I think college softball camps are so important that I send my coaching staff to at least two every year, which also includes me as well. I have been coaching for years and it still amazes me how much I can still learn about the game. So when you attend camps you need go in the mind set of learning. If you do that you will get your money’s worth. Here are some items to think about that will make your camp experiences more productive.
How many and what camps do I need to attend? For those of you in 7th, 8th and 9th grade you need to attend as many different camps as time and money allows. Once you reach your junior year you should focus on those schools that you are interested in and them in you.
How do you pick what camps to go to? Always pick your camp one; because you are interested in that school and want to learn more about them. Second; because there is a specific skill you would like to improve on. Third; because the school has shown strong interest in you and they want to get to know you better. So learn the difference between being recruited and being camp recruited. Being recruited is when they are truly interested in you as a player. Camp recruited is when they just want as many players as possible at their camp to make money. Because of the cost of attending camp money some times becomes an issue. I don’t have a problem having a travel or high school coach just calling the college coach and asking if they are interested in a player or not. More than once I have called a coach on behalf of a player to ask how interested they are in a player to see if it would be worth their time and money to attend. I found coaches will be honest in telling you their true interest in a player.
Go with the idea of taking one thing home to improve your game. As I said earlier I send my asst. coaches to camps every year. Sometime they may help at the camp and some time it’s just to go watch. I ask them to take notes so they can share the information they learn with our whole staff. They are also told to implement one thing they learned into our program they feel can help us win. There is very little new idea’s everything comes from some where. Everyone just might have a different take on it. Here at Lake Land our teams are known for two things, pitching (because of our pitching coaches) and the other is hitting. Two camps I like to go is Coach Mikes Larabee’s (Head Coach at the University of Arkansas and a USA National team Pool Coach) hitting camps because I believe in his philosophy and I learn something new every time I go. I have no problem telling people a lot of what I teach I got from Coach Larabee and he will be the first to tell you where he learned his hitting philosophy. The other camp is Coach Fischer’s camps at Illinois State University. Coach Fischer runs a great camp that has some top players attending. So not only do I learn more about the game it gets us a chance to see players we might be interested in. Along with theses two camps I also try to attend at least one new camps every year as well.
Dress and look Like an Athletic: When you go to a camp or for that reason any where you may be playing, dress and look like and Athletic. Wear long pants not shorts pulled up with a belt and your jersey tucked in neatly. Pants should not be baggy and your jersey should be a bright color with your name and number on the back. DO NOT wear another school’s t-shirt. If the camp is outside and you wear a hat or visor wear it right, don’t wear it to the side or backwards. If you wear sun glasses take them off when coaches talk to you and don’t wear them inside. How you dress can make you look more athletic as well as shows the coach you have pride and are a team player.
Learn how to throw before you go to a camp: If you ask any Jr high, high school, college or travel coach they will tell you that with in the first 15 minutes they have picked half their team just by how a player looks, acts, warms ups and throws. At most camps after warm ups throwing is the next thing you do so learn to throw before you go to camp so you can catch the coach’s eye from the start.
Don’t act like you know every thing. Because you don’t: At any camp you attend there will be all levels of talent. So first thing the coach has to do is get everyone on the same page of terminology. You are probably going to be doing some very basic drills in the beginning. It’s at this point some good players get on the wrong side of the coach because they are not listening and nine out of ten times they are doing the drill wrong anyway. I can assure you that every drill you do at a camp no matter how basic that coach does the same drill with her most experienced players on a daily bases. Just ask my players and they will tell you we will spend more time on the basic fundamental warm-up drills than we will in our most advance drills.
Be self motivated and positive: As a coach I’m looking for a self motivating, positive, enthusiastic player who has a true passion for the game. Here are a few things a player can do to show these items we look for
- Show up and get out of the car carrying your own bag
- Register yourself in, don’t have mom or dad do it
- Introduce yourself to all the coaches with a firm hand shake and smile
- Don’t be shy, mingle and get to know the other participants
- Volunteer when asked
- Be positive all day
- Listen and follow direction
- Keep eye contact with the coaches
- Asked questions
- Respect all coaches and players
- Act like you want to be there
- Hustle everywhere
- Play hard
Find the best player there and make her your partner: When you get there try to find the best player there or a player the coach is paying a lot attention to and make her your partner. The reason for this is if coach is looking at her she is looking at you as well. Also, the better the athlete your partner is the better her throws and catches are going to be which will make you look better as well. Besides players will play to the skill level of the partner.
You are always being tested: I was at camp a few years ago when at the end of the camp the coach had the campers play a game of dodge ball. There were two girls at this camp the coach was really interested in until the game. During the game these two players stayed in the back ground not wanting to take the chance of getting hit by the balls. And at that point the coach was not longer interested in these two players. The reason the coach played this game was to see who was competitive and who was not. So keep in mine there is always a reason why coaches do what they do at camps. Just to let you know both the above players got NCAA D1 scholarship and both quit with in two years. I guess the coach knew what she was doing.
Be the same at the end of the camp as you are at the beginning of camp: You can hide your true personally for a while but eventually it will come out. So coaches will watch recruits at end of a long camp to see if they are playing as hard and excited as they were at the beginning of camp. If you can’t keep the same enthusiasm at a camp how will you handle the length and intensity of a college softball season. Remember you are always being tested.
Talk to the college players who are helping: Camps are a great opportunity to talk to players of that college to find out what it is really like to attend and play at that school. What is the coach really like? What is a typical day like for them? Learn all you can about what it is like to be a student athletic at that college. Keep in mind this is a two way street they are going to talk to you and find out more about you as well. Players do not want to bring someone, who in their mind disrupts the chemistry of their team. And coaches always ask their players what they think of recruits.
Send a thank you: After the camp, be sure to go up shake the hand of all the coaches and thank them for the camp and tell them one thing you learned at the camp. Then go drive around the campus and town just to see if it is a school and area you might want to live in for two to four years. A couple of days after you get home email all the coaches thanking them for something you learned at the camp and something learned about the school. (See “Emailing a College Coach” under softball coaches comments on out LLC Athletic web site)