Alternative to Summer Sports Camps

Summer is a time for staying up late, sleeping in, and hanging out with friends. This is generally the off-season for most sports. Athletes playing competitive sports and wanting to get better at their sport use the off-season to improve their fundamentals, technique, speed, strength, and agility. The commitment and intended outcomes during the summer is different based on the athlete’s level, age, and goals.

Summer sports camps have been the traditional choice for the aspiring athlete. Like minded kids, structured curriculum, and the opportunity to improve in a group dynamic. If your child is at the age where success in their sport(s) is predicated on their dedication in the off-season choosing the right summer camp is very important. Or is it?

Do athletes actually improve in their sport participating in a summer sport camp? Is the coach to athlete ratio low enough for individual attention and instruction? Does the level of instruction justify the cost, is it quality instruction? Are there better training options for the athlete? These are difficult questions to answer as your email inbox fills up with summer camp advertisements.

We created StriveFar with the belief there are better training options for athletes that want to improve at their sport. If you are putting your athlete in a camp to have fun, grow their love for the sport, and play with friends, camps are a perfect choice. If you are putting your athlete in a camp to improve their skills, fundamentals, and further their development, you are wasting your money.

Experience and skill level of the athletes are very important when identifying a camp this summer. The three most important questions you must ask:

  1. Are the coaches capable of helping your athlete improve?
  2. Will the level of play from their peers push your athlete to improve?
  3. Is there progression? As your athlete improves are they challenged with new skills?

Based on the economics, it is not feasible for coaches to provide effective 1 to 1 coaching in a camp environment. The coach to athlete ratio is too high, generally 10 -1. The curriculum is not defined by the need of the athlete but rather the overall focus of the camp. The coaching experience varies; the organizer (Director Of Coaching, High School Coach, Coordinator), generally very skilled in their coaching profession. The coaches with the most contact with the athletes have varied experience. This is generally a summer job for high school and college athletes. They know how to play the game but not how to teach the game.

One example is Coerver, a popular soccer camp for the aspiring soccer player that is available in several locations throughout the United States. The focus is to improve the individual soccer skills in a group setting.

  • 5 Days
  • 9:00 – 3:00 (1 hour break for lunch)
  • $425.00 per session.
  • +/- 10 kids per group
  • Curriculum is pre-determined and is not tailored to the athlete’s needs
  • Instructors: Head Coach, High School and College players

coerver soccer camp

Athletes are assigned to a group at the beginning of camp and work and compete within the group for the entire session. The skill level and soccer experience can vary greatly within the group. The quality of coaching varies from okay to very good. The athletes move as a group to each center and works on a specific skill for a certain time period. Based on the size of the group and amount of time at each center there is very little 1 to 1 instruction and attention.   As you can see from the picture there are a lot of kids.

Does it make sense for an athlete to work on a sport for 5+ hours in a large group or 90 minutes in a small group? Can the athlete retain the 25 hours of learning from a week long camp? What is your athlete’s intended outcome?

Small group training is a more effective way to learn than camps because it provides 1 to 1 instruction and a tailored curriculum that can be developed by the coach for the athletes and customized each day as the athletes improve.

Small Group Definition

  • Group Size: 2- 8 athletes
  • Session Duration: 1 – 2 hours
  • Cost: $10 – $30 Hour
  • Location: Based on the parents and coach

Small Group Benefits

  • Experienced coach
  • Affordable
  • Individual instruction
  • Athlete/Parents can decide on the focus of the session
  • Progression – the instruction and drills change as the athletes improve
  • Athletes are grouped by similar skill level
  • Flexible scheduling and location
  • Athletes can play with their friends and teammates

Small group training may not be the best choice for every aspiring athlete. Camps can be a lot of fun. If your athlete truly wants to improve their game, it is important they are in a small group environment where they train and compete against athletes with similar skill and the coach provides individual instruction and a tailored curriculum.

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Joshua is married with three active children. He has experienced the good, the bad, and the politics of youth sports as a coach (12 years youth basketball coach) and a parent. All three kids have played soccer (Competitive, Development Academy, ECNL, High School) and basketball (Competitive & High School). Joshua is a co-founder at StriveFar, a marketplace connecting athletes with coaches for individual and small group training. Joshua has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver since 2008. Joshua holds an undergraduate degree in Communication from the University of Colorado and an MBA in IT from the University of Denver.

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