All camps are not created equal.

If you want to be recruited to play soccer at the collegiate level, ID camps can be a good way to get in front of coaches. However, remember that some are run by youth soccer organizations and others are hosted by individual schools. And that means not all ID camps are created equal. The benefit you might derive from each one may vary wildly. So, before you sign up for an ID camp, consider:

“Invitation” Does Not Mean “Interest”

Very often, an ID camp is simply a money-making opportunity for a school or a youth soccer organization. A blanket invitation to a camp rarely means that you’re being recruited by a school or the coaches in attendance. If every kid on your team gets the same invitation, then odds are that camp is simply a cattle call designed to make money. Simply put, in many cases, an ID camp invitation is simply an ad to attract as many customers as possible to a camp.

That said, not all camp invitations are created equal. For instance, a personalized invite that notes a school has seen you play and evaluated your skills and is telling you they want to see more, likely means you are on that school’s radar. Even then, check with teammates to ensure they didn’t get the same invitation.

The Benefits Versus The Cost

There are a lot of ID camps out there and trying to attend as many as possible can get expensive. So, the key is to find the ID camps that will be the most beneficial to you and your recruiting hopes. If it’s a one-day camp, will it be worth the time and expense for what could be minimal exposure to a coach or coaches? Think about how your recruiting goals match up with what each camp offers. Do you want to be seen by more coaches? Raise your profile at a certain school? Do the coaches at a camp represent schools that you’re interested in attending?

If it’s a specific school’s camp, do you have the talent to compete for that program? If so, and that’s a school that you might want to attend, make the most of it. When it’s a multi-day camp, maximize the time you’re there. Explore the campus, meet the team’s current players, and visiting the admissions office for information about costs, scholarships, and grants.

If your budget is tight, limit the camps you attend to the schools you’re interested in where you know you can compete. Don’t get caught up in the fantasy of being “discovered” at a camp held by a “dream school.” As a general rule, the bigger a soccer program is, the less those coaches will use ID camps for recruiting. Don’t give up on your dream of playing college soccer but, when it comes to using ID camps to raise your recruiting visibility, be realistic about where you might land.

What Are Your Goals?

When sifting through the many ID camps, it’s important to know what your goal is in attending a given camp. If you’re looking to raise your recruiting visibility to many more coaches, look at camps that will have several coaches present. Then, weigh the number of attendees, the length of the camp, and the coaches present to determine if that camp will help you raise your profile.

If you want to make an impression only with specific coaches or schools, then obviously you want to consider camps offered by those schools or where those coaches are committed to attending. But, just as above, consider the size of the camp and if it’s one-day or multi-day to figure out how much of an opportunity you’ll have to shine.

As noted in both of the above scenarios, the number of attendees at a camp can significantly affect any benefit you might derive from attending an ID camp. Before you commit, call the organizers and ask how many people will be attending that camp. Consider the coach/player/time ratio to see if it will be worth your time and if it will raise your profile. Share those camp details with your coaches for their opinion on your ability to stand out in that particular camp.

In many ways, choosing an ID camp to further your soccer recruiting is much like buying a car or selecting a college. That means you need to find the camps that will benefit you (and your recruiting), make sure those benefits are worth the cost, and know what you want from those camps. Once you do that, you’ll be able to focus on the soccer ID camps that are the best fit for you.

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