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Another Camp?

hockey player at a camp

Junior camps, showcases, and combines are starting to be announced, so I thought it would be timely to start talking about them.

Why do coaches ask you to come to yet another camp after they’ve seen you play at a showcase or combine?  Lots of parents and players think these events are simply money grabs because they didn’t walk away with a roster spot, but I think it is important to manage your expectations for these events. 

Chances are pretty good that you aren’t going to be signed directly from one of these events.  I’m sure it happens from time to time, but as a general rule, it doesn’t. Some of these events occur before the leagues allow teams to do so.  Even if they can sign players, many people think that because coaches have already seen you play, they should already know what they need to know.  The problem with that thinking is they don’t really.  They have seen you play against a bunch of other guys who are also trying to make that level.  They haven’t seen you play against guys who are already at that level.  They need to see how you compete against their veteran players.  They also need to see how you get along with them because team culture is important.  More than likely, attending one of these events is going to get you more camp invitations.

They may also have not actually seen enough of you.  There might have been 200 or more players at that event and maybe they only got to watch one period of one game of a particular player. Maybe a scout attended the event because the coach couldn’t so the coach hasn’t seen you play at all. It can be a struggle to see enough of every player at those bigger events because there are multiple games going on at once, and scouts want to see as many players as possible.   A scout or coach is trying to look at all of them and trying to make decisions on who should proceed to the next step in their process (usually another camp).  As a parent, you are watching your player, and there are probably kids at that event that you never saw. In fact, we once knew a local player was attending the same event we were, but because of the schedule, we were never able to find a time to meet up and hang out.  We never saw them at all.

Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t attend one of these events either.  In fact, in some cases, these events are the most bang for your buck.  If the event is being put on by a particular league, there will be staff attending from every team in the league so you’ll have a chance to be seen by every team.  They will have coaches from those leagues behind the bench so you’ll have a chance to start a relationship.  There will be other scouts from other leagues and teams as well.  That is a much cheaper option than trying out for every team individually which is logistically impossible anyway.

While these events do make money, that isn’t their sole intent.  Their intent is to provide an opportunity for coaches and scouts to see a lot of players in a short period of time, and it’s an opportunity for players to be exposed to a lot of coaches and scouts in a short period of time.