The recruiting cycle is a maze. Players are inundated with invitations to college clinics, camps and prospect days. They can’t play in all of them, nor can their parents afford it. So how do we navigate the matrix? Here’s some help.

College Clinics

What are they?

Short, two- to three-hour skills-centered clinics hosted by a college. They are open to all players and often occur during the fall and winter.

When should I attend?

When you want to work on a specific skill and improve in the offseason, regardless of your interest in that program.

Pros

Current college players often run these clinics and can serve as an example for high school players. It’s a great primer for the season.

Cons

Don’t attend with the expectation of being recruited. It’s still a financial commitment and could open doors, but the player’s focus should be on improvement.

College Camps

What are they?

Formal training opportunities where players work with college coaches and players over a period of two to four days. There are two types of camps: private camps run by the staff and players of that school only, and recruiting camps run by multiple college coaches, giving players the opportunity to play in front of many coaches in one setting. Camps are usually offered in the winter and in the summer.

When should I attend?

I recommend each player attend at least one camp a year, starting with freshman year of high school. If you attend only one camp, pick a summer recruiting camp to get the most exposure. If you attend two camps, add a winter camp. Winter camps often are more intimate. Three camps will allow you to add a private camp in the summer, in which case you should pick a school you’re interested in to get a glimpse of life on campus.

Pros

College coaches can assess players more fully, see how they respond to coaching and what they are like as people. This is especially helpful for goalies and defenders who need more time to show their talent level and perceptive abilities.

Cons

Expenses. Plan wisely and do not do more than three camps. That could lead to burnout and injuries.

Prospect Days

What are they?

Prospect days are the newest trend in recruiting. There are two types: those open to the general public (usually targeted at one or two graduating years), and invitation-only, when colleges invite players that are on their recruiting radar. You may or may not play in a clinic. You’ll tour the campus and facilities, get a Q&A with coaches and participate in other activities like sitting in on a class or attending a football game.

When should I attend?

If you are invited to an invitation-only prospect day, you should attend unless you know you definitely do not want to go to that school. They will roll the red carpet out for you. As for the general public prospect days, go if you are interested in that school. It’s best to gauge the school in person.

Pros

You get a true image of the school, lacrosse program and social life, and you show the staff that you are interested in their program.

Cons

Beware of the “prospect days” that do not offer more than a clinic. This is a clinic that is disguised as a “prospect day” to attract more players without providing the additional benefits a true prospect day offers.

Kate Hickman is the director of the Bay Area Lacrosse Club and founder of Balance Lacrosse. This post originally appeared in the December 2015 edition of Lacrosse Magazine.

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