In Holland (where I do most of my business) every team has a coach they call “trainers”. Their focus is on developing individual player skills. They are there to make each individual player better. Because skill-sets are critical to the development of the individual, the team and the game.
I the believe there are three components to a player’s development, ultimately helping them progress with the goal of getting onto a college team.
1) Training – or skill development (I’m biased to this – it’s my passion)
2) Game play – this is where you should be taught and learn the tactical side of the game – how to think and react in game situations. Become a smart player.
3) Showcase opportunities (being in front of college coaches to get recruited to the college of your choice.)
In my opinion, the US market focuses way too much emphasis on the last two. Why? Players like to play. And training has the connotation of practice – and practice means work. Who likes work? You need a balance of all three. Also, all game play and tournaments have become synonymous with “showcasing” yourself to college scouts. But there’s such a proliferation of these events that at some point it becomes a case of diminishing returns. There are but a few key events that are must attend. If you don’t get selected out of the Regional Futures Tournament to the National Championship – then you have to go to one of the top tournaments over Thanksgiving. But even Thanksgiving’s showcase value has been diluted. Last year we had three venues operating on that one weekend (by two separate organizations).
This is what I heard from various college coaching staffs… The head coaches went to Shooting Stars in Richmond, while their assistant coaches went to USFHA Festival in California and DIII coaches went to the Shooting Stars event in Philadelphia. That may be an oversimplification of how coaches responded to three events operating at the same time in the USA, but it does present problems for you when you are trying to show-off to the decision maker. That’s why it’s important to have communication and outreach with your prospective coaches prior to any showcase. Where will they be? I have a very good friend who is a head coach who only attends USAFH events – players have been pre-selected to attend these events, and in theory, should be the cream of the crop. Point is, don’t waste your time if you are not getting value for your effort. Use your time and money to better yourself and your game.
Also of note, next year (2016) USAFH Festival will be held in Florida – and I heard that Shooting Stars in Virginia will be reducing the number of teams allowed to enter there. Will that shift the importance of attending one over the other? The FH landscape is continually changing. Ask your target coaches where they go to see prospects play. Plan your time wisely.