For baseball athletes, few topics are hotter than choosing the right college baseball camp. Below are a few tips on this subject based on my experience as a college baseball coach:
Camp selection is critical. At my recruiting seminars, I am always asked how to select the right camp. Well, I can tell you one way not to pick it—by Googling it. Just because a camp comes up high on the list of search results does not mean it is a good camp or the right one for you. Instead, start by determining the colleges that are a good fit for you; then find out which of those schools run camps that coaches attend.
Your best bet in selecting a camp is through word of mouth. Find out where your friends went and what they liked and didn’t. Sometimes a simple call or email to a college coach can give you great advice on the best camps to attend.
Notify coaches before you go. Camps are a great way for college coaches to find and evaluate players, but many of them are hard to manage. They’re big, spread out, have lots of athletes and entail long days. Help separate yourself from the pack by sending a note to the coach before the camp.
Have a good attitude at the camp. Some camps don’t provide interaction with coaches while others do. In an ideal world, you’ll attend a camp where you get to meet and work with the coaches—personal connections can go a long way in recruiting. Regardless of the level of interaction, you can help yourself stand out with a great attitude.
It’s important to dress properly (on and off the field) and to have a good attitude. That means no complaining, always hustling and good body language. Coaches get to pick their players, and they want upbeat athletes who are fun to be around. They also want leaders. Hustle to pick up balls, shag, carry water, whatever the coaches ask.
Above all else, get an evaluation. One of the biggest benefits you can gain by going to a camp (for any sport) is to get a sense of how talented you are compared to other players. Many athletes judge themselves against a small recruiting pool. Camps provide opportunities to be with a larger number of college-bound players.
If you go to a camp and feel like you’re the worst of all its players, you may not be talented enough to play at any level—unless you do a lot of work to improve your game. Conversely, if you are near the top of a group, you are not only a college-level player, but maybe even a Division I scholarship player. Many camps allow college coaches to evaluate you and give you a written report on all facets of your game. You may not like the report, but it will be honest. I tell all the coaches that work my events to be 100 percent truthful.
It is also crucial to find a camp that does infield and outfield defensive evaluations as close as possible to your typical pregame routine. Some camps put all the infielders at short and hit them seven balls in a row while everyone else stands around. They do this because of filming, but it is boring for you and the coaches. Find camps that do pre-game style infield/outfield.
Camps are great, but not the be all, end all. Camps vary from one-day events to week-long sleepaways. Don’t put all your recruiting eggs in the camp basket. If you don’t show well, get sick, have an injury or aren’t seen by the right coaches, you need to do other marketing to get recruited.
An NCAA coach since 1992, Wayne Mazzoni currently works for Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn. He is the author of several books, including Get Recruited: The Definitive Guide to Playing College Sports. He has been featured on WFAN, Fox, ABC and News 12, and he has led seminars at more than 300 high schools and both state and national conventions. Visit his site at WayneMazzoni.com.