Coach's Guide to Choosing a Volleyball Camp

Coach Houser:
There are so many summer volleyball camps out there. How do I choose the right one for my players? Do I take my players to a college? I want my team to believe that I know what I’m doing; but, how can I know? Choosing a camp is like playing the lottery. Any advice?


I think all of us have these same misgivings. Regardless of your experience, you can’t be completely sure about the quality and the appropriateness of a camp until you’ve experienced it in person.

What to Avoid

Warning No.1: A slick brochure means nothing. I used to try to put out a nice one, but it wasn’t worth the time.

Warning No.2: If the camp director’s college teams have been successful, that means very little also.

There is only a slight correlation between a winning coach and a positive camp experience for your players. Successful coaches don’t necessarily direct good camps any more than successful players make good coaches. The coach with the great record could be an incredible recruiter. So how does that make him/her a great camp director?

Warning No.3: Don’t push a camp onto your players because that’s where you went to school or because you just saw them win the D-I National Championship on TV last month.

Try to pick a camp that’s good for your team. There must be a better reason to support your camp choice than, “I went to school there. Trust me!”

But here’s a list of how to pick a camp that’s appropriate for your players.

Summer Camp Rule No.1: Cost

This must be our top criteria in selecting a camp. Don’t select one that makes the parents gasp. I know you often get what you pay for. But, that’s not always the case.

And as I wrote in an article a few years ago, (a) you can find cheaper camps that are very high quality and (b) would you rather go to the cheaper camp? Or not go to one at all?

Before you require the parents to fork out $1000 for two out-of-state university camps, would you rather 40 percent of your players stay home? Or would rather make a less expensive choice and have 90 percent participation?

Summer Camp Rule No.2: Age Appropriate

Sure, you can persuade your 14’s to play 16’s. But will the camp work with your youngest?

Very very few 12-year-olds will be comfortable shoved into a 14’s division. Your elementary and early middle school girls must have their own division, or they will be miserable, and their parents’ money will be wasted.

Is it too far away from home for your youngest? Most 14’s can stay 100 or 200 miles from home, but many of the younger ones aren’t mature enough yet. (And their parents may not allow it!)

So, for your 12’s and 13’s, a local day camp is probably adequate. In other words, I would take very few of my girls out of town until they reached about 13, or maybe 14.

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