Summer may be the most strategic time of the year for a football player. During the summer break, they’re able to focus more, so a summer football camp can make a tremendous impact.
But how do you know if it’s the right camp?
Selecting a summer camp is a greater challenge every year as options grow. A quick web search provides overwhelming choices.
Let’s break down what to look for and what to avoid:
College camps are great exposure for the college program, campus, and coaching staff. High school staffs also attend college team camps for exposure to the college system used by that particular school.
Marketed as a development camp, often the main goal of these camps is for college coaches to get a look at perspective athletes while funding their regular program and introducing athletes to the campus. Players will learn, but you may not see a lot of individual attention.
Expect group fun and low coaching ratios. These camps** tend to concentrate on team and group exercises rather than individual mechanics and technique.** Think of college camps as an opportunity for exposure to competitive football training, performance under pressure, as well as a taste of the college experience.
It’s tempting to hope program coaches will “discover” a player, but chances are he will be lost in the crowd of athletes. On the other hand, if the player stands out physically, has made (that hard to get) prior contact with a coach, and clearly displays superior mechanics or skills, he may be noticed.
Third Party Camps
The three major categories of camps outside of college camps are combines, development camps and exposure/invite-only camps.
Combines cater to athletes aiming for measurable results to track physical development and numbers for college coaches. They provide little or no coaching, focusing instead on measurable tests, usually lasting one day.
Combines are not designed for football player improvement or to teach skills for the football field. They’re purely a measuring tool for athletes with standard combine testing. Tests include the 40-yard dash, pro shuttle, L drill, vertical, and other common testing tools.
Exposure or invite-only camps
Exposure of invite-only camps usually provide a small amount of teaching but** focus primarily on the competition phase of football. When selecting an invite-only camp, it’s important to **consider who is being invited. Some camps use “invitation-only” as a marketing tool, claiming only the best athletes get invited while really sending out blanket invitations hoping many will bite.
There are some stand-out camps out there, so investigate the criteria for attending to decide what type of value you’ll get out of it. Ask about the coaching ratio, be wary if coach-to-player is higher than 10-1.
Development camps may not be the first choice of an athlete, but it is likely the best choice. Development should always be the primary focus, and the only camp selection that spans the athlete’s career.
Coaches are consistently seeing a lack of fundamentals in most athletes. Choose a development camp to reverse this trend for an athlete. The low coach-to-player ratio, high individual attention, and multiple repetitions will add more value for your athlete.
Questions to ask when selecting a development camp:
- Who is coaching the camp?
- Is there standard teaching among the coaching staff?
- What is the player-to-coach ratio?
- Is the camp position specific?
- Do they employ video analysis?
Important: A camp may promote a former or current football player and their coaching staff to draw attendance. While this may be a great thing, keep in mind that a great player may not translate to being a great coach. Be sure to ask about the headliner’s coaching experience and ask for references.
Will Hewlett serves as the Director of Player Development for NFA and is the lead coach for elite players at NFA camps. Will regularly works with Quarterbacks in the SEC, BIG Ten, ACC and Pac-12 as a private quarterback coach and has been a guest coach at the Nike Elite 11. Will is a nationally recognized speaker on the Glazier Clinics tour for the past three years, and is regarded as one of the top throwing mechanics coaches in the country.
His passion for the game is deeply rooted, having been the first Australian Quarterback to travel to the US and play NCAA football. His playing career extended to the pro ranks, with a stint in the Arena 2 league. His college experience included University of Nevada (UNR) and University of Dubuque. Follow Coach Hewlett on Twitter @WillHewlett or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.