Lately I have been receiving a lot of emails from parents and players asking which camps to go to, and which camps to avoid. For people that are not clients of mine, I can not give specific advice on specific camps, but I can give everyone some very simple guidance on how to eliminate certain camps from consideration.
- I was sent an email and invited to attend a three day long camp. The camp advertises there are going to be a lot of NCAA D-1 coaches attending. When I emailed the coaches to confirm they did not respond. Its an expensive trip for me, is it worth going?
First, if a camp is trying to advertise that specific coaches are definitely attending, and those coaches don’t return your email then you can bet they have been invited but have not committed to attend. Camps that are not run or owned by the NCAA coaches themselves often use this tactic to trick people into attending. NCAA coaches all over run camps themselves, they do not need to go to someone else’s camp to see players.
Second, look at the academic calendar. If the camp interferes with the academic calendar, or other NCAA commitments, the coach will not be there.
Third, use some common sense. If this camp is so incredible and has been for years, why doesn’t it have a lot of followers on social media? Do the coaches who the camp claims are attending follow this camp on social media?NCAA coaches have summer vacation and they spend that time with their family and friends. They also have scouting departments who work all season long. Do you honestly think an NCAA Head Coach is going to leave his family for three days just before the school year begins, to in this case, leave the country, to attend a camp?
2. I received an email from a showcase. They list a lot of coaches that have attended in the past, but there is no guarantee those coaches will show up again. It is a long camp and I have to fly there as well as stay in a hotel. What can I expect, and is it worth going?
First, the camp listing coaches that have attended in the past is a great indication that coaches attend. This is a positive thing and it shows the showcase has value to the coaches.
Second, if you haven’t been getting a lot of attention from scouts during the season, a showcase is always a great opportunity to show yourself to a lot of scouts at many levels of play.
Third, if you are a younger player this is a great way to get your name out there, especially if you are from a small town, or a non traditional hockey market. If you are an older player, this is likely a Tier 3 opportunity for you to sign a contract, and if you have not made Tier 2 yet, get your backup plan in place now and enjoy the rest of the summer.
3. I got an email to attend a “pre draft” team camp. What can I expect, and is it worth the money?
First, every team in a league that has a draft operates these events. They have to make money to support the team in the off season. Junior hockey is a business, it is time you understand this. Stop complaining about money grabs, and start being smart with how you act as the business customer.
Second, if you haven’t been speaking to the team during the prior season, they likely got your email and information from a company called RinkNet, or another online player recruiting service which sells the information. In this case, 99% of the time you are better off buying a lottery ticket.
Third, if it is a team pre draft camp, do not expect it to be anything more than another chance to skate in front of a very limited number of scouts. Do not expect to play against Tier 2 players, because veteran and returning players are not going to pre draft camps. Pre draft camps are usually for one team only, and their Tier 3 affiliate, that is all. Teams do not share their information outside of their league or affiliated teams. Do not expect it to be anything more than a camp.
4. I have been invited to a lot of camps, but a lot of the camp sates overlap each other, how do I pick the right camp for me?
First, you must prioritize camps. Main camp, then open camp, then pre draft. Anything other than a main camp invite has to be completely investigated to find out if it is a legitimate opportunity. All main camps are priority over open or pre draft camps.
Second, if multiple main camp offers overlap, then you have to determine which camps offer the best opportunity for you by position group, by need, and player evaluation. If you are a 5’10” puck moving defenseman and the team has two similar players returning, they are not likely looking for a third undersized puck moving defenseman. There are dozens of criteria and questions to be asked in order to qualify one camp over another.
Third, if it is a main camp, the coach should be calling you or your adviser directly. No direct contact gives you an idea about how serious the interest level is.
Keep in mind that all these guidelines are very general in nature. There are a lot more specifics that need to be gone into before making a decision on any camp.
With the economy and inflation the way it is, it is best to be really thorough in how you go about planning, if not you will waste a whole lot of time and money to be left disappointed at the end of the summer.
If it sounds to good to be true, I guarantee you it is.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser