Welcome to the fifth installment of our weekly column, “Too Embarrassed to Ask,” where we’ll examine a hot topic from the world of recruiting that parents and student-athletes may want to know more about, but may shy away from asking because it is considered assumed knowledge.
Think of this column like a cheat sheet for those instances it is no longer acceptable to ask a question, say, having met someone three times but still not knowing their name.
This week’s issue: Event attendance.
The question: How do I know which events to attend?
The short answer: Go to the ones that afford you the best opportunity to be seen by the right coaches (not the most, or the “best”) for your situation.
The long answer: There are three things that seem certain for club families: Death, taxes…and events.
You may be participating in a tournament as part of your club team; you may be heading to an individual showcase. Whatever the case, there are few steps you should be taking prior to signing on the dotted line and spending a lot of money, time and energy.
All events are not created equal! That is not a slight to any one event, but is meant to illustrate this point: You should be attending events that are best suited for you personally, not because the event is “the best on out there” or “buzzworthy.”
To do this requires some research. First, you should be realistic about your abilities and academics, allowing you to create a target list of programs that are a good fit. Solicit feedback from coaches, and develop a list of schools you would like to attend that suit your abilities, grades and interests.
Once you have your target list, you should ensure you are attending the event(s) which coaches from these schools normally attend. If you are interested in going to a smaller school in the Northeast, it may not behoove you to attend an event attended by mostly bigger programs in the South.
Going into events with a plan will assist you in ensuring you are making the most of your time and money. Attending numerous events and hoping for the best is not a great strategy.
Instead, pinpoint a list of events that match your criteria and go from there.
The movie quote that explains the current understanding: “I’d say when the Angels win the pennant.” –Mr. Bomman from 1994’s Angels in the Outfield
What the quote says in our context: In this film, Roger, an orphan, is visiting with his father who is telling him he is leaving for good. Roger asks when they can be a family again, and his dad sarcastically replies, “I’d say when the Angels win the pennant.” This was meant to portray never, as the Angels were a bumbling band serving as the doormat of the MLB.
So, why this quote from a movie where divine intervention allows the Angels baseball team cheat their way to the American League title game? Because it’s the response I think of when families ask when the litany of events they feel pressured to attend will end.
The current climate may be undergoing some market correction, but events are still going to be one of the primary means of getting recruited in the near-term. So instead of worrying about them, it’s vital to go in with a plan in order to avoid the complete chaos.
Our Advice: Events have been a big topic of recent discussion in the youth sports space. There are more of them, they are year-round and they cost a lot of money before even considering the travel and opportunity costs associated.
Our best advice is to be selective! Attending two events that are “right” for you is far better than going to as many as you can. In addition to the financial impacts, it is also a practical piece of advice: Playing too much may burn you out, or impact your game negatively at a crucial time.
Here are three tips for event attendance:
1. Be Realistic
The smartest and most efficient way to manage the events you attend is to base your attendance on the feedback you get from college coaches.
For example, if you have been reaching out to a school for a while and they haven’t expressed interest, do not assume that by attending that college camp or clinic that the coach will suddenly be interested. College coaches can quickly identify whether or not a player will be a good fit for the team.
Events are often identifiable by the types of programs that usually attend. For example, many camps have reputations for drawing larger Division I programs, while others may draw Ivy League schools or NESCAC schools.
The key is to have an idea of which coaches usually attend an event, and contact them prior to the event letting them know you will be in attendance. Having a target list of schools and choosing the events they most normally attend is the best move possible, because it prevents you from attending an event where you will be seen by the wrong programs.
3. Eye on Value
Keep in mind that all events have a cost attached to them, so be wise and pick and choose those events that will be most appropriate for you! Do not attend so many events that you are spending more than you have to or burning yourself out!
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