Soccer Camps
Guide
Get to Know U.S. Soccer Camps and
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Get the Most Out of Camp

Understanding U.S. Soccer Camps and the Guide's Categories

Good Questions

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"If kids played in their backyards, they wouldn't need camps."
--a USSF A-license coach and camp clinician

Coaches run soccer camps to make money--sometimes, lots of it. Fortunately, there are other motivations, too. But you need to the know the organizing principle of the camp to select the right camp ... and enjoy the best camp experience:

There are  five types of coaching arrangements that create the U.S. soccer camp "system":

  1. Local coaches (e.g., high school coaches or "premier team" coaches), assisted by local/college players, conduct camps for local players and teams. (Note: local youth soccer associations will sometimes host a Type 1, 2, or 3 camp.)
  2. Regional teams (e.g., MLS and A-league), stars (e.g., Tab Ramos), sports complexes (www.thesportspark.com/PAGES/campX.html), and even equipment suppliers (e.g., Eurotech) will conduct camps to strengthen relationships with the community and  to earn  extra money
  3. National or regional professional soccer camp business conducts camps  as a money-making enterprise (e.g., Vogelsinger)
  4. College or university coaches conduct camps to earn money over the summer and to raise profile of their program (e.g., Penn State)
  5. State Youth Soccer Association (e.g., EPYSA) or Olympic Development Program conduct camps as part of their soccer development program to identify players and as a source of income for affiliated coaches. But often the most intensive training is done at special camps for select players and teams

A sixth-type of arrangement is becoming more common, whereby international  coaches set up a camp in the U.S., or international camps or soccer tours are set-up for U.S. kids. In 2003, Manchester United's "soccer schools" made a big impression in the U.S.   See: http://www.manutdsoccerschools.com

 The type of camp and its quality are two different things.

For example, a "lesser" Type 1 camp may be run by USSF A-licensed coaches who use high school players that may have a good rapport with kids--or not.   But a "higher level" regional or national camp may simply trade off the name of a coach or player, who "directs" the camp by remote control. 

Big camps may  provide resources smaller camps don't have, like fitness or mental- performance training. But check them out carefully. The actual coaching staff may be "hired guns, whose motivations will vary depending on their stake in the camp's success, their salary,  and their burnout level, particularly at the end of the camping season. Similarly a camp you liked last year may reprint their brochure, but the camp could be significantly worse (or better) due to changes in ownership or personnel.

There may be some benefit attending a university-based camp to exposure yourself to the school--and to a prospective coach. But basically coaches rely on recruiters who observe players under actual game pressure, rather than the less-pressured camp environment .

Thus, the buyer should beware--the reason for this Guide!