The end of the school year is right around the corner and summer is in sight. If you strap a helmet on in the fall, the next three months are crucial in your preparation leading to the season. You may have off season weights, speed training, passing leagues, practices, and maybe even some recruiting visits. All of those things managed a steady growth in my development but as I look back at my summers of preparation there is one place where my growth and opportunities accelerated like none other: summer football camps.
Not everyone experiences the same growth at a football camp. Just showing up does not ensure results. The secret is in how you approach the camp. In my opinion, there are two reasons to attend summer football camps: skill development and recruiting. Everyone needs skill development. Even the #1 pick in the NFL draft needs to work on and improve areas of their game. You may also be in the exciting phase of pursuing opportunities at the next level. Camps can be an essential link to getting that opportunity. Each of the camps requires a unique approach. Below are my top five musts for growth and success in each camp setting.
Skill Development Camp
Remember, camps are times of potential rapid growth. You get sprayed with information out of a fire hose. The growth potential is realized in how much can you absorb and put into practice.
1. Chose wisely: Find a camp that prioritizes the fundamentals and skill development.
2. Open mind: The #1 barrier to growth is not being open to changing the way you do something. Come willing to try new things.
3. Ask questions: Find the coaches between or after a session and ask questions on anything you don’t understand or know you need to work on. You can manufacture a one-on-one session specific to your needs. That’s a huge value!
4. Write it all down: This takes the most discipline of any on the list. Go home at night and write every coaching point you remember from camp. Studies have shown this helps your knowledge retention exponentially.
5. It does not end at camp end: The growth of camp is lost if you don’t cement it in with practice in the coming months. Highlight 3-5 things from your list that you need to work on and practice them at least three times a week. This is THE most important element. The rapid growth is lost if you don’t cement in the motor memory.
It’s all about standing out. Below are the insider tips I give as a recruiter and coach.
1. Chose wisely: The best way to get noticed by a school is to attend their camp and work right with the position coach. Carefully decide which schools you want to attend. Prioritize the schools of interest that are realistic options.
2. Be prepared: Standing out on the football field and in the performance testing is the most important thing. Come to the camp razor sharp. Attend a fundamentals camp early in the year. Work the football fundamentals and skills you’ll be performing at camp. Call the school and ask the format of the camp and what they will test. Prepare and practice for the testing events.
3. Show your love for the game: Be excited to be there and eager to learn. Be the first up in line. Ask questions. Have contagious energy. Coaches love these and look for these traits. They love players who love to play the game.
4. Connect: Know who your recruiting and position coaches are. Research them. Find any personal connections to them, even if it’s a friend of a friend. Be around them as much as you can during camp. Be engaging. Find ways to stand out in a good way. Make a connection and you’re more likely to be remembered.
5. Follow up: Share with your coaches at camp a profile with a link to your film and your academic GPA and ACT/SAT test scores. Send a hand written note and follow up email to your recruiting coach, position coach and the head coach. Find titles for both that will jog their memory of you at camp. Be creative. They get hundreds and hundreds of each. Interest them in reading it.
Camps are all what you make them.