Participating in camps and showcases can be a powerful way for you to be seen by recruiters and coaches. Many colleges offer instructional camps during the summer or off-season, and attending camps can make it easy for you to let coaches know you are interested in their programs. Some showcases are open only to invited players, but other showcases are instructional camps that are open to coaches, recruiters, and scouts from many colleges. At camps, players are usually put into groups that rotate through instructional stations learning about hitting, throwing, and fielding from a variety of instructors, including coaches and college-level players. Depending on the camp, each player may get a skills evaluation and suggestions for improvements. In showcases, players get the opportunity to show their skills and are not typically offered much instruction. Depending on how many players attend the showcase, there may be very limited opportunity to show your skills. For example, an outfielder may have only three balls hit to his position, batters may only get to hit 5-10 pitches, and pitchers may be allowed to face only two or three batters before the next player’s turn. Given the few opportunities players have to be noticed at camps and showcases, what can you do to improve your chances of making a good impression? Here are some tips:
- Don’t try to do too much. Given how little time you have to show the coaches what you can do, it will be easy to get nervous or try to be perfect. Coaches know that you might be nervous and are looking at how you deal with your emotions. Stay calm and confident, and approach each opportunity like you would in any other game or practice.
- Hustle. Show the coaches your energy and willingness to give 100 percent no matter where you are or what you are doing.
- Look and act like a “professional.” Dress appropriately, tuck your shirt in, wear your hat properly, and conduct yourself in a calm, confident manner. Don’t be cocky or a jerk, but act like you believe you are as good as anyone else there. Speak respectfully to everyone, and don’t show frustration by yelling, throwing things, or behaving in any way that will make you look like you can’t stay in control. Coaches are not interested in players who cause trouble in the dugout.
- Introduce yourself to coaches of programs that interest you. Introduce your parents to the coaches if you get the opportunity.
- Be courteous and be a good teammate. Acknowledge other players’ successes, and thank coaches and staff members whenever you can.
- Stay true to your skills. If you are not a power hitter, don’t try to be one. Show the coaches you have a good eye and can control the bat. If you are not a flame thrower, don’t try to be one. Show how you can move the ball and hit your spots. One college coach described the most common mistake he sees at events like this: “[Recruits] aren’t themselves. They do not relax and try too hard to showcase how far they can hit a ball or how hard they can throw it. We are looking for consistency, under control actions and ability to slow the game down.”
- Make sure you showcase your best skills. If you have a plus arm, show it off. If you have great speed, be aggressive on the bases and show it off. Showing coaches your best skill may catch coaches’ interest and improve your chances of getting seen again or winding up on the “follow” list.
- Use any mistakes or challenges as opportunities to show how you deal with adversity. If you drop a fly ball or give up a home run, show the coaches that you can stay focused and prepared for the next pitch. Show them that if you make a mistake, you don’t give up and you don’t panic.
- Show that you can listen and follow instructions. Coaches want to know that you can take instructions and follow through by making adjustments as needed. Being “coachable” can be an important trait that coaches are looking for in young players.
“You should specialize in your skill set. For me, I’m not ever going to be a power hitter. No matter how hard I try, I’m not going to hit a lot of home runs. Be good at your skill set. Being good at defense and controlling the bat, that’s what I’m good at. I’m going to get better at that. I’m not going to try to hit home runs. That’s just going to make you worse. Whatever you’re good at: if you’re not going to throw 94, don’t try. Throw 88 and learn how to move the ball and control everything. Specialize in your craft. Don’t try to do too much.” –Justin Shafer, Infielder, UC Davis (2007, 2009-2011)