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.
2019 college soccer camps
Most student-athletes attend college soccer camps because it’s a great way to increase their exposure and get evaluated by coaches. But there are other benefits, too, such as participating in quality training and possibly checking out a college that you may end up attending. Attending camps is an important part of the college recruiting process, but it can also take a significant amount of research and preparation to find the right camp for you. That’s why NCSA has compiled definitive lists of every men’s and women’s college NCAA Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior college soccer camp in the country. You will also find the date, age level and cost of each soccer camp, potentially saving you hours of research time. Check them out here:
Before you register
There are a few steps you can take to make the most of your camp experience. First, do your research on the school and program before you register for camp. Make sure camp is held at a school you can get admitted to or that there will be other coaches in attendance from your target schools. Also, make sure to build a relationship with coaches ahead of time. Ideally, you want to be on their radar before you arrive for camp so that you can improve your chances of being evaluated. You need to be strategic in choosing the right camp to attend, since just showing up won’t guarantee you’ll get noticed by college coaches. If you really have your heart set on a specific program and are struggling to get in contact with that coach through email or your club coach, attending their camp and catching their attention is still a possibility — but this shouldn’t be your main strategy for camps.
What does a soccer camp invitation mean?
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, many colleges also use camps as a way to bring in revenue. So, if an invite you’ve received looks generic, you’re probably not on that coach’s radar yet. However, you should make sure to respond to all your camp invites, even if you can’t go. This way, you can share your highlight video and still try to connect with coaches.
What are the different types of soccer 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.
- Goalkeeper camp: a position-specific camp for developing skills.
- Youth camp: typically focused on beginner players looking to develop fundamental skills.
How to make the most of your 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: cleats, 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
Ride the momentum of your college soccer camp experience. After camp, make sure to follow up with coaches and thank them for the opportunity. You can also ask them about which skills you need to improve. Afterwards, 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