USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities and play at the college level. Jason Smith is a former NCAA Division III athlete and college coach at all three division levels. Jason is just one of many former college and professional athletes, college coaches and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience and dedication, along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community, have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Field hockey camps, clinics and tournaments offer student-athletes a chance to increase their recruiting exposure and get evaluated by coaches, making them an important part of the recruiting process. But there are other benefits to attending camps, too, such as participating in quality training and possibly checking out a college that you may end up attending. However, researching the right camps to attend can be a time-consuming process for families that don’t have a lot of time to spare. That’s why NCSA has compiled a definitive list of every college NCAA Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior college field hockey camp in the country. You will also find the date, age level and cost of each field hockey camp, potentially saving you hours of research time. Check it out here:
What does a field hockey camp invitation mean?
Not every college field hockey camp invite is the same. If you’ve received a camp invite from a coach you’ve been communicating with, that’s a great sign and likely means that you’re on that coach’s radar. However, if an invite you’ve received looks generic, you’re probably not on that coach’s radar yet. You’ll get the most out of camp if coaches know who you are, so make an effort to build a relationship with coaches ahead of time. If you can’t attend, you should still make sure to respond to all your camp invites. This way, you can still try to connect with coaches and even share your highlight video.
Before you register for camp
A great college field hockey camp experience is largely a result of good preparation. First, do your research on the school and program before you register for camp. Attending a camp is a great opportunity to improve your skills and get recruiting exposure, but the decision to do so should be based on your family’s budget.
If you have received a camp invite to a college on your list and your family can afford it, you should consider attending. Even if you’re not a serious recruit for that program, you can get valuable camp experience. If you’re working with a tight budget, focus on your target schools or look at who else will be in attendance at the camp in question. If coaches from other colleges will be present, especially ones from schools you are considering, it might be worth stretching your budget to attend. It’s valuable to get seen by multiple college coaches in one camp. However, if you can’t afford a camp, make sure to still respond to your invite.
Student-athletes need to be strategic in choosing the right college field hockey camp to attend since just showing up won’t guarantee you’ll get noticed by college coaches. Make sure to connect with coaches before attending to get on their recruiting radar and improve your chances of getting evaluated.
What are the different types of field hockey camps?
- ID camp: an elite camp that’s usually invitation-only and restricted to club members. An ID camp brings top recruits in and has them stay overnight for three to four days, providing athletes with skills development, competition and evaluation.
- ID clinic: a shortened version of an ID camp, usually lasting one or two days.
- College camp: the camp may have many talented players attending, but it can’t be invite-only. If it’s hosted on an NCAA college campus, it must allow anyone to attend regardless of ability level.
- Showcase: a tournament usually organized for club teams. There can be a wide variation in skill levels across clubs, but this is where college coaches do most of their recruiting.
What to expect at field hockey camps
Student-athletes should expect to perform a variety of drills focusing on offensive and defensive individual skills training. This can include goal scoring, team play, defense, tackling, positioning, ball control, and passing and receiving. Additional goalkeeping instruction can include communication, clearing, footwork, accuracy, kicking, diving and strokes. Also, one-on-one instruction with written evaluations can be offered at camps. Meanwhile, tournaments offer attendees a chance to compete against other athletes in an intense game setting. Wherever you choose to attend, you’ll want to do your research ahead of time. Depending on your personal field hockey recruiting situation, you’ll want to consider how much a field hockey camp focuses on fundamentals, individual evaluations, strategies or team play. If you’re not ready to compete against top athletes, you may want to focus on skills development.
How to make the most of your college field hockey camp experience
Make the most of your camp experience by following a few simple tips:
- Be prompt. College coaches notice student-athletes who arrive late. Double check registration and start times to ensure you’ll get there early.
- Bring all the essentials. You’ll want to be at your best when competing in front of college coaches. Make sure you have all the equipment you need to do just that: stick, goggles, cleats, mouthguard, water, towel, sunscreen, etc. You can check the camp’s website, too, as it typically outlines everything you should bring.
- Stay positive. College coaches look for recruits who are coachable, so they’ll evaluate your body language and attitude on and off the field. It’s important to stay positive because it shows coaches that you’re mentally tough.
- Check out campus. Stick around after camp and visit the university to get a feel for the campus. If there’s another college nearby, make the most of your day and check out that one, too. Seeing a college campus in person can help you decide if it’s the right fit for you.
Make sure to follow up after the camp
Once you’ve left camp, your camp effort isn’t actually over. Maintaining communication with college coaches Is extremely important, so after camp you’ll want to follow up with coaches and thank them for the opportunity. You can also ask them about which skills you need to improve. Afterward, whenever you have noteworthy updates to share, such as new video or verified stats, email them about your progress. Building relationships with college coaches is essential to staying on their radar and getting an offer.
Read more: How to email college coaches