Within the last couple of weeks, I have received a few emails concerning invites to college volleyball camps. In an attempt to answer these emails in one post, and provide information to families which are considering attending college volleyball camps, please read on.....
As I have written in the past about college volleyball camps, and in Inside College Volleyball - I suggest that families look at college volleyball camps three ways:
1) As a skill development opportunity.
2) As a Volleyball vacation.
3) For Recruiting.
Before expanding on each of the three categories, please be aware of NCAA contact rules. College camp invites are allowed to be sent to any Prospective Student Athlete (PSA) no matter their year in school. So, even though a NCAA Division I program cannot contact you as a freshman or sophomore by email, or phone, or mail, or telegram or Optimus Prime, they can still send you a camp invite.
Also, college volleyball coaches, even NCAA Division I coaches use camps as a necessary income supplement. You would be stunned to know just how much (or little) many college volleyball coaches earn, considering they are responsible for the safety and welfare of your daughter. They need camps for income; if not for themselves, then for their assistants who really don't make any money.
And now to the camp trifecta:
Skill Development - Traditionally, a player goes to a summer camp in hopes of developing their skill sets and this should be of prime concern when reviewing any college volleyball camp opportunity. There are any number of collegiate camps which do a great job of reinforcing proper skills and providing maximum opportunities, but there are also any number of collegiate camps which do not.
Often times, the best skill development can come from colleges which are not big name. For example, Giant University Volleyball Camp has 20 courts and 300 campers at their camp, but who is going to actually coach your daughter? Is it the head coach? No, the head coach will float around like a game show host smiling and doing a few demos. Is it one of the full time assistants? Probably not because there are too many courts and players. You may be lucky if it is a junior college or club coach, and most likely it will just be a current college player.
Lastly, college volleyball camps are expensive; I know because I ran many DI volleyball camp. Yes, we are trying to generate maximum income, but we get charged a lot by the school for everything (gym space, insurance, dorms, food, electricity, bananas, etc).
Volleyball Vacation - This is not a bad thing. Sometimes it is just nice to go to the campus of a school that the family likes; whether it is because they are alumni or like the football team or the grandparents are in the same town. They get to hang out on campus for a few days, they get to stay in the dorms, use the athletic facility, experience on campus living and they get to play volleyball.
Not all high school players want to play collegiate volleyball, and many will attend a college volleyball camp because they may want to just go to school at that university. If they get some good volleyball training, which helps them in their upcoming high school season, then that is just the bonus.
Recruiting - This is where the heartache begins.....Be aware of NCAA rules and understand that today's recruiting environment is very professional; college coaches know what they are doing. They don't need you to come to camp so they can evaluate you because they will know if you can make them better within 10 minutes of watching you play club volleyball. Even if you do come to camp and you have the perfect attitude, the college coach will offer their opening to another player if that other player is better.
If you are one of their top recruits, of course college coaches want you to come to camp; you are paying them for an unofficial visit!!! Speaking of using the camp as an unofficial visit, camps are not reality; camps are the absolute best case scenario. College coaches are great during camps; there is no season pressure, they don't have to coach their own team, it is summer time so campus life is simple, the current college players are having fun and getting paid, they don't have to deal with the college coaches yelling at them in practice, they are not traveling trying to balance homework and trainings.
I absolutely, vehemently do not recommend using college camps for promoting or marketing your daughter; this is like playing the lottery but each ticket is $200.00 bucks (for marketing/promoting, you would be better served to not go to two collegiate camps and instead join NCSA Athletic Recruiting's paid service for support that lasts your entire volleyball career).
The only time I say that college camps are applicable in the recruiting process, is when you have narrowed your list of programs down to your last couple and spending time on campus for longer than just an unofficial visit may help you make the final decision.
Please take a moment and objectively look at what your goals are when considering college volleyball camps.