The offseason is a better time for personal player development than is during the season.
During the season is a difficult time for youth coaches to provide small-scale or position-specific training for every player on the team. Limited practice time and coaching resources lead to practices that are heavily geared toward large-scale, team building periods. In-season is a time for coaches to take the skills each player currently has and to blend them within the schemes that they choose to employ.
However, offseason camps offer greater opportunities for players to receive position-specific training, a focus on fundamental mastery, a coaching mindset more geared on individuals than a team, and more drill repetitions than they get during the season.
A core principle of football camps is to allow expanded practice time and a greater amount of fundamental drill periods than typically occurs in-season. Typically, select units are broken down into smaller groups tasked with going through a series of position drills, commonly referred to as ‘indy’ or ‘fundy’ time. These drills are repeatable to build consistency and progressive to master advanced skill sets. Ideally, every player will get equal amounts of reps and coaching in a camp setting, regardless of ability.
Players can attend a camp with the sole focus of their time spent on their best/favorite position. Often, young players bounce around from position-to-position on both sides of the ball during the season—not having an opportunity to direct their physical practice time toward one specialty. Youth practices are often conducted at the macro-level with the entire offensive and defensive units performing large-scale drills together. Camps offer more opportunity for micro-level instruction by breaking into position groups and specialized small-scale drills.
Different Coaching Mindset
In a camp setting, coaches have no game to win or playing time to manage. Their focus can be to facilitate individual improvement rather than getting 11 players to work together. Coaches can take the time to offer personal pointers, expanded demonstrations, advise players at their specific skill/experience level, and allow for repeated or modified drills for those who need them to achieve success.
Compete Against Players At Your Level
Often, the biggest, fastest, strongest players on their youth teams have to be held back in practice so the rest of the team can be productive. Camp brings the opportunity to drill with and against other players of similar ability levels. These more challenging experiences are vital for top-end players to continue improving. Conversely, the smallest, slowest, and weakest players also need an opportunity to compete with like-abled peers to create the best environment for them to grow also. A camp allows coaches to match players and groups according to size, ability, experience, etc.
Work On A Weaknesses
If a player’s game has holes or he’s being asked to play a position that isn’t his best, going to camp offers an opportunity for concentrated improvements. Often, players can’t master a certain skill or technique until they’ve failed to do so first. Through those valuable on-field experiences and gained perspectives, players are in a better position to develop improved play mentally and physically.
Learn New Positions
Camps bring opportunities to learn new positions that an athlete may be interested in trying out. Maybe there’s a player ahead of him on the depth chart, coach needs him at a different spot next year, or he’s just dying to prove he can be the starting quarterback. Go to camp to learn the skills and what it takes to make a position switch.
Gain More Knowledge & Experience
Weather a player is to looking improve skills at his typical position or trying new ones—knowing his responsibilities and those of the teammates and opponents across the line will allow him to perform at a higher level anywhere on the field.
Show Commitment To Your Coach
By attending a camp outside of the season, a player shows his coach that football is important to him and that he is committed to being the best that he can. Coaches appreciate the extra time and effort that their players endure and often choose these players for the first crack at a new opportunity. Coaches evaluate the intangible qualities of their players as much as the physical skills that they possess.
Exposure To Expanded Thinking
Many camps give attendees an opportunity to be instructed by top-notch coaches, interact with current/former players, or feature guest speakers. Aside from all of the physical instruction they bring, these men often carry messages of the intangible qualities it takes to be a great football player—leadership, accountability, teamwork, toughness, the list could go on. These lessons are invaluable to the development of any young man—both on and off the football field.