If your child aspires to be a collegiate athlete or compete at the professional level, youth athletic camps are a great way to help them develop their skills while experiencing new coaching styles and meeting like-minded athletes from diverse backgrounds. How do you ensure you are choosing the right sport camp for your child? Here are a few items to consider when researching potential camp programs for your child:
Instructors: What organization is running the camp? Who are the coaches and staff? The value that your child takes away from their camp experience will be largely dependent on the level of instruction they receive. The coaches at IMG Academy have experience coaching and competing at collegiate, professional, and Olympic levels, and they bring that same level of experience to the athletes they instruct.
Helpful Tip: If you come across a camp that’s advertising a celebrity “coach,” ensure that the former professional or coach is going to be in attendance. Some programs will leverage their name and curriculum without that individual actually being physically present at the camp.
Athlete-to-Coach Ratio: If a sports camp isn’t properly staffed for the number of campers they enroll, the athletes won’t receive the necessary level of attention needed to properly address each individual’s needs and abilities. The lower the athlete-to-coach ratio, the better the personalized instruction that your child will receive. Camps that provide time for one-on-one instruction with coaches to evaluate your child’s skill level, address specific trouble areas, and strengthen specific aptitudes are typically the most beneficial.
Facilities: Youth athletic camps are hosted at many different locations that can vary anywhere from high school gymnasiums to state-of-the-art facilities. IMG Academy, for example, is a world-class campus with professional-grade sports facilities and accommodations as well as the most up-to-date technology. The type of camp facility you choose to send your child to will directly correlate to the caliber of instruction you want them to receive. Most importantly, you should also ensure that the facility is up to code, well maintained, and properly equipped for all of the camp’s activities so that your child is safe.
Menu: When your child is away at sports camp, they will need nutritious meals to fuel them before, during, and after their day. While it is ideal to choose a camp where nutritionists are on staff, at the very least parents should ensure that their child’s meals will be prepared by a professional cooking staff. You may also ask for a sample menu so that you can understand the types of meals and snacks that will be provided to your child. Also, ensure that the camp can accommodate any food allergies or needs that your child may have. Some camps, including IMG Academy’s year-round programs, even include nutrition programs that teach campers about the best foods for fueling themselves before competition, what to eat for recovery, fueling timelines, hydration, and more.
Supplemental Training: If your child plans to eventually play at an elite level, there are other skills they will need to learn outside of just how to play their sport. Some of the best sports camps will also provide nutrition education, mental conditioning, leadership, and vision training.
Camp Success: There’s no better way to measure a camp’s quality than by the athletes who have previously attended it. A true testament to a camp’s quality and effectiveness is its alumni, so it’s helpful to ask who attended the camps that you are researching. Another important statistic you may choose to inquire about is the camp’s return rate. Kids who enjoy their experience and gain value from it will want to return.
“The IMG Camp Experience is great for those that have desire to be their best, are dedicated to their sport and have passion for hard work. The experience is challenging and rewarding for our attendees. Many of our campers stay connected to our coaches over time to stay in tune with developmental best practices and to simply build on the great relationships that are created within our programming,” said Jason Elias, Associate Athletic Director at IMG Academy.
Testimonials: A great way to learn about a kids’ sports camp is by word of mouth. Research the camp by looking up reviews on Facebook, Google, and other sites, and the camp itself may even be able to provide you with references from former campers and their parents.
As a parent of a child who plans to play collegiate or professional sports, you certainly want to provide them with all of the resources needed to be prepared and successful. Youth athletic camps are a great way to supplement the training that your child receives from their school or community sports team or club. IMG Academy is proud to offer one of the most elite youth sports camps in the world and is located on a state-of-the-art campus in Bradenton, Florida.