This is the second part in our series on selecting the best option for your son for the summer. With so many options, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Today, we will focus on Showcases and Camps.
While working as an Assistant Coach at William & Mary, I attended various showcases, and quite regularly, I would see the same kids attending showcases after showcase. We’d call these kids “Professional Showcasers”. I don’t want to dissuade anyone from attending a showcase, because they can help; but they shouldn’t consume your summer. I mentioned a few reasons in the previous post on why you should be careful about the lure of “College Coaches will be here”, so I won’t bore you with the same points. But I do want to offer two additional points of suggestion. First, if you know for sure that a college coach will be in attendance, know what that college coach is looking for. If your son is a catcher, and the college has an All-American catcher that just finished his freshman year; you probably should assume that the coach isn’t looking for a catcher. Unless they need someone to catch bullpens. So, do your homework before you get all worked up about the schools that are attending. Second, your son needs to play games. Showcases are a good way to get exposure to college coaches, but your son also needs to play in games. Games are a great way to improve your game, both mentally and physically. Yes, there are games at Showcases; but your son’s playing time will be limited as the organizers need to make sure everyone gets equal playing time. If your son spends his whole summer at Showcases, chances are he will not get better in the area that matters most, in games.
I’m a big advocate of Camps; both for youth and high school baseball players. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad ones out there. Here are some things you need to look out for. At the youth level, are you interested in simply finding a place to keep your son busy to fill their summer months? Or, are you interested in them improving their game? If the latter, you obviously need to be selective. Talk to parents that have attended the camp in the past and get their insights. Talk to your coach to get their opinion. You don’t want to waste your money on a camp where the instructors are there simply to collect a paycheck. Find a camp where the instructors actually want to get the kids better.
For the high school players, Camps can be a great way to get exposure to colleges. But these too come at a risk. Hopefully, you and your son begin your college search in their freshman year. The search should include: which region of the country do they want to spend their four years; academically, what is of interest to them; what is more comfortable for them, a big school or small school; financial costs; etc. As the search narrows, begin to look at what schools offer summer camps. Before you make your selection, please take the following into consideration. First, as mentioned above, do your homework to understand what the school needs. Second, what other college coaches will be there working the camp? Chances are, the camp will have coaches from other schools working the camp. Are any of those of interest to your son? And finally, will the coaches from the school hosting the camp actually be at the camp. Speaking from personal experience, college coaches do not make much money, unless you’re coaching at a major Division I program. Summer, and Winter, camps are a great way for the assistant coaches to supplement their income. So, the head coach will place the responsibility of running the camp on the shoulders of the second assistant or the volunteer assistant. And in some cases, the head coach and head assistant will not even be at the camp. They may be on the recruiting trail, at a tournament or a showcase. So, inquire from the school as to which coaches will be at the camp, and how much time will they be spending with the kids?
But again, I am a big fan of camps. Mostly because it gets you several days of exposure with the coaches. Unlike showcases, where coaches may only get a glimpse of your son’s ability.
The great news is that there are many options for you and your son. The downside is that you really need to dig in on which of those options serve your son the best. If you prepare in advance, and do your homework, we’re sure you’ll make the right decision.