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 DIII 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.
Which college wrestling camps offer the best value? College wrestling camps offer student-athletes a chance to increase their recruiting exposure and get evaluated by coaches, making them an important part of the recruiting process. College wrestling camps are especially helpful for those who may not have access to wrestling teams in their school or region, allowing athletes to hone their skills and potentially check out a college they’re interested in.
However, researching the right camps to attend and finding prices for each one 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 men’s wrestling camp and women’s wrestling camp in the country. You will also find the date, age level and cost of each college wrestling camp, potentially saving you hours of research time. Check it out here:
What are the different types of college wrestling camps?
There are many wrestling camps to choose from, and all will be structured differently with varying techniques and philosophies. Knowing your skill level and the type of instruction or training you need is the first step in choosing what will work best for you.
- Technique camps: These are for beginning wrestlers who want to gain a general understanding of basic skills and experience, or just want to focus on one part of their wrestling that needs improvement. Technique camps will expand your knowledge as a wrestler and expose you to higher skill levels of technique. Typically, technique camps are for learning and are usually non-intensive so they are great for beginning wrestlers.
- Intensive wrestling camps: For wrestlers with more experience, intensive camps will help develop your skills further. These camps typically focus more on intense training needed at high levels of competition so wrestlers are not only physically prepared but also mentally ready to compete. These camps typically stay away from learning new techniques based on the assumption you already have a solid foundation.
What does a college wrestling camp invitation mean?
Not every camp invite is the same. If you’ve received a college wrestling 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 wrestling camp experience is largely a result of good preparation. First of all, be sure you know what you want out of wrestling camps. Each camp is structured differently, and there are a lot of different options for where to go, how long to stay and what to learn. 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 wrestling 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.
How to make the most of your college wrestling 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: water, towel, headgear, singlet, 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 court. 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 college wrestling 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