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Summer is almost here! I love summer - the heat, the travel… and volleyball camps! Most of my life, as a player and coach, I’ve spent summers participating in or running volleyball camps. What great memories! Let’s look at summer camps and talk about how to find the right camp this summer.

Should you attend a college volleyball camp this summer?

There is a perception out there that a college or university volleyball camp must be a good camp if it’s put on by the school - especially if the team did well that year. You sign up and send in your money thinking the camp will help you become a better player, and better yet, you’ll get to meet the coach!

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Some colleges use camps to make money for their program without really caring if your athlete leaves the camp a better player. And quite often, the coach doesn’t even run the camp.

So how do you know if a camp is worth attending? Here are some things to look for before you commit to a college volleyball camp:

  • Who’s Camp Is It Anyway? - Find out if the head coach is running the camp, the assistants, or if the players themselves conduct the camp. The head coach is usually too busy to do a camp so they’ll have an assistant run it.
  • You’re Paying For What? How much actual skill development and learning will there be? You don’t want to spend money just to have someone watch your athlete play volleyball all day. A good college camp will actually teach skills on the court.
  • Elvis Is In The House. If the head coach will be there, will the coach be teaching, or just making an appearance? How much time will you get with the coach? It’s easy to get starry-eyed when a successful coach is in the building, but if they’re not sharing their knowledge with you and helping you be a better player - is it really worth the money?Are you paying to improve your skill, or just enjoy a celebrity sighting?

Summer-Setting-Camp-2015I know it’s tempting to think - but if the players are running the camp, they’re being taught by the head coach, so in effect you’re getting the same instruction… right? Not really.

There are several different skills involved in volleyball, as in any sport. There’s the ability to be coached – to listen to a coach and do what they’re saying, incorporating it into your play. Then there’s the ability to coach, which is harder than it looks. You have to be in control at all times, state clearly what you want players to do, and interpret what you’re seeing into better performance. And there’s the ability to take your playing skills and turn around and teach another player how to do the same thing.

It’s very uncommon to find someone who can do all three effectively.

Celebrity Volleyball Camps

Along the same lines, a camp run by a really notable player doesn’t necessarily make it a good camp. I’ve seen camps like this where the well-known, successful player is there, but just watches the girls play and offers suggestions. And maybe this motivates your athlete to work harder - there’s definitely value in that. But consider whether you’re just paying to meet that player, or to actually get better.

It’s also good to keep in mind that some coaches and players that are not big names can still run excellent camps. It takes a slightly different skill set to manage a player camp than it does to coach a team. That’s why it’s important to shop around for camps to make sure you’re getting what you’re looking for!

When Is A Camp Worth Attending?

It really depends on what you’re looking for! Celebrity camps and college camps can be a good thing, especially if they motivate the athlete to play harder and stay committed to the sport.

Just know what you’re paying for. Ask questions. Try talking to the person running the camp. If they won’t take the time to “sell” you on the camp, that might tell you something about the effort they’re putting into the camp. And keep in mind, just because a camp is the biggest, the most attended, put on by a big name company or school, or is the most popular camp - that doesn’t always make it a good camp!

Here are some ideas for things to ask before you sign up:

  • Who is running the camp?
  • Will the head coach be there? How much?
  • What skills will be taught?
  • How much of the camp will be play time vs instruction time?
  • Will there be time to practice the skills being taught?
  • How much experience does the person running the camp have with running camps?
  • Is the camp a fund raiser, or a way to find future players?

Is My Volleyball Camp Worth Attending?

Hopefully! I developed my volleyball camps after years of attending camps, playing at the highest levels of the sport, coaching at the highest levels and being coached by some of the best volleyball coaches around. Here’s why you might and might not want to attend my camps.

  • At my camps, I break down the fundamentals and train technique. I do this by teaching each step of a technique, then watching and correcting the athletes as they try it themselves. When you rep something right, over and over again - THAT’S when you are able to master and perfect that skill!
  • I pay attention to detail and progress through each skill being taught. It’s hard work, and the athletes are pretty wiped out by the end of the day, but it’s still TONS of fun because it’s volleyball!
  • I work hard to keep the environment positive and encouraging as well. We’ve all see that coach yelling at players and creating a threatening tone. I never liked being coached that way, and I doubt you would either!

If you’re looking for a camp where the athletes play lots of games each day and receive coaching during the matches, my camp is not for you. We usually do have scrimmage time at the end of each day to practice what we’ve learned, but my goal is for every athlete to finish the camp a better player than when they came in.

Decide Carefully and Have Fun!

So when you sign your athlete up for a camp, whether it’s a college camp, celebrity camp or a camp like mine, you want to make sure the experience is worth the cost. You are investing your time and money into your child’s athletic career!

I would love to share my thoughts with you on this - send me an email or give me a call! Or feel free to post a question below. I hope to see you soon!