As we approach the end of the school year and approach the summer months, I am often asked by goalkeepers and other soccer players, “What camp(s) should I attend this summer?” Of course there are numerous options for players of all positions, ages and abilities including recreational camps for the recreational players to invitation only College ID camps for the elite players. So which one is right for your soccer player? Here are 10 things that you should consider when making the choice.
- Location – Is the camp being held at a facility that supports a positive atmosphere for enjoyment and development? For example is/are the field(s) in good shape, is training equipment readily available for the sessions, etc…
- Is the curriculum or daily routine posted and available for review? You should be able to review what a typical day is like. Quality camps will have the game plan in place well in advance and be prepared. That way there is less time wasted in set up and organization.
- Who are the trainers? The lead coaches of the camp should be certified and knowledgeable coaches with the proper experience in running camps. A great coach does not necessarily make a great camp director. You should also get as much information about any assistant coaches that may be helping with the camp. Camps are often one or two great coaches and then a handful of volunteers, with little to no experience.
- The size of the camp and the athlete/coach ratio. Some players and families are looking for the large camp experience with many players to network with, while others are looking for a smaller setting to gain the most out of training. Either way, you should be aware of the athlete/coach ratio and that target number should not be more than 12:1 and ideally should not more than 10:1.
- Is the camp specialized? All soccer camps are not created equal!! You need to find out if the camp is specialized by position or philosophy (i.e. certain style of play or based off a developmental academy program). Ensure that your player is interested in the specialization…. a seasoned striker may not wish to attend a goalkeeper only camp for example.
- Camp skill level – And this one is important! Make sure if you are looking for a recreational camp you register for one. If you are an elite player looking for an elite camp, your experience will be less than helpful if you find yourself training at the rec level. Some camps can train at multiple levels, which is OK, as long as they have the coaching staff to do so.
- Day Camp vs. Residential? This is a personal preference but an important factor. Make sure if your soccer player is younger, that they are ready to attend an “away” camp! A bad home sick experience can not only ruin camp, but have long lasting negative effects. For those players who are ready, Residential camps can provide networking opportunities that create life long friends and can also be very rewarding. Day camps provide a great alternative where campers train hard during the day, but get to spend the evening with their families talking about their experiences and sleeping in their own beds!!
- Training Camp vs. Daycare/Babysitting – Make sure you do not approach your summer camp as a baby sitting or daycare service. Sure, you may be able to write it off on your taxes as such, depending on the age of your camper, but you are paying good money to help develop your child in a sport that they love. Make sure that the camp is more than just a bunch of counselors sitting around watching your kids play soccer. The camp needs to be set up with training and development in mind, ready to challenge the players to perform, learn and grow.
- Safety – Make sure the camp has CPR/First aid personnel on staff who are trained in all of the aspects of training health and well being. They must know the proper producers and treatments for heat/sun exposure, concussions and routine injuries. Also make sure that there is appropriate cover in the event of thunderstorms!
- Will it be fun!?!?!? Probably the most important! You want your player to walk away from camp saying, I had a GREAT time and so much fun!! Anything less is mediocre at best. Even elite College ID camps with the highest level of skill development need to be fun in order to reinforce the love for the game!
So considering of all of these factors, you should be able to choose the proper camp and ensure your player has a great camp experience.
For goalkeepers, the Just 4 Keepers camp programs are second to none. They address all of the above items and provide an awesome opportunity for goalkeepers to train hard in a fun and positive environment. There are camps all over the USA. You can find the location nearest you by going to https://goalkeepercamps.net/.
Lastly, see what the program director says about their competitors…… What!?
I received the following comment from a parent when I suggested that since they couldn’t make it to my J4K camp in Albany, NY that they check out a camp run by one of my competitors. Here was their response:
“I am very happy when coaches make recommendations out of their area or club. It shows that it is about the kids and not the business. Very comforting.”
Summer camps are BIG business! Make sure you are with an organization that is running their business with the kids/players as the priority! It will make all the difference in the world.
So have a fantastic summer and a great summer camp experience!!! Work Hard, Train Hard and Have Fun!!!