If you want to play at the college level one day, don’t sit around and wait for them to come to you. You control your destiny at the beginning of the recruiting process. It is the athlete’s job to get the college coaches attention. 

How does a player do that? In today’s culture, you have two primary options. The first is to attend “College Showcases.” Showcases are somewhat like a tournament, where teams play games, with very flexible rules to highlight talent as coaches watch. This concept sounds like a win-win for everyone; college coaches get to see all this talent in one location, and players get the chance to show what they have, right? Maybe, to a certain extent, this is the case, but more times than not, it isn’t. Showcases have become big business. College coaches attend them, usually with a list of players they have identified before the event. Rarely are they wandering around just watching random games, hoping to find that diamond in the rough. 

Showcases can help players who have been identified before the event showcase their talents in in-game scenarios. Once in a while, a coach will see a player they did not have on their list. This can happen when a coach is watching a game where one of their targets is playing. Although it happens, it is not a common occurrence. This approach should not be your plan “A”. Parents are spending mind-numbing amounts on showcases and travel, all with the “hope” their daughter will be seen. What if we told you there is a less expensive way that guarantees not only does your daughter’s skills get seen, she will even be able to engage in a conversation with the coaches?

Take a step back and put yourself in the role of the college coach. Coach gets an email that says, “Coach, I would love to play for your program…”. If you are that coach, wouldn’t you first see if that player has ever attended one of your camps? If a player has not participated in your camp, you have never had a conversation with her, and she knows little about your coaching style, how could she possibly want to play for you?

Attending the schools’ annual college camps is an excellent way to build a relationship with a coach. Typically, schools will hold a winter and summer camp throughout the year. Information on these camps can be found on the school’s website. Here are a few reasons why attending college softball camps can be beneficial.

Better chance of being noticed: This point is a no-brainer. Even if the camp you are attending has 200-300 hopeful athletes participating, you still have better odds than being noticed at a tournament with thousands of players. You will stand out even more to the coaches if you send a video or an introduction email, letting them know you are coming to their camp. The more work you put in, the greater chance of the reward. 

You might learn something: Many people get caught up in the focus of making sure they get recognized at the camps they attend, that they completely tune out what’s being taught right in front of them. Once you get to the camp, you’ve completed step one. If you sent the video or introduction email, they already know you are there. The next step is to take in and enjoy the experience; you may learn something new! Please bring a notebook and keep it in your bag to take notes on what you learned during breaks or after the camp concludes. Most college coaches instruct their camps the same way they train their team. If you come back to their next camp and you have worked on what they taught at the first one, coaches will notice.

A chance to see where you match-up: As mentioned above, many college coaches run their camps and clinics the same way they would run a college team practice. They want to see who has what it takes and who could step in and immediately impact their program. This is a good “gut check” for the hopeful athletes in attendance to see where they match up and what they need to work on to get to that next level. College camps and clinics typically draw the elite hopeful athletes, so it’s a good way for them to see where they measure up with their peers. College coaches love competition, so don’t be surprised if you compete while you are there.

Both Showcases and Camps service a purpose, and both have a place in the process. Understanding how they can benefit you is critical. Try to avoid putting too many eggs in the showcase basket.