College showcase camps and college ID camps are held throughout the year. A college showcase camp is a 3-5 day training camp that is held where college coaches provide the instruction and training for attending players. Many are overnight camps, but some are not. An ID camp is generally a one day camp sponsored by a particular college or colleges.
If you attend a college showcase tournament you will have the opportunity to have some college coaches stop by and maybe see you play for 20-30 minutes. Perhaps you're lucky and they stay for an entire half or a whole game. However, did you play during those 30 minutes, did you play well, did you get the opportunity to be involved in the game, did you get to show your stuff? In only 30 minutes, maybe you did and maybe you didn't. Now if you do it right, you will have invited the coaches ahead of time and maybe get a little more view time. Still the fact remains that they have a limited time to see you and hopefully its at the right time.
Consider this...if you attend a showcase camp you will get the best opportunity possible to have coaches see you as a complete player...the whole package. In your younger years, you may select a camp based on location only, as you don't really know the colleges that you want to attend. However, as you get older you can select specific camps where the coaches from your targeted colleges will be training.
Over the 3-4 days you will gain several advantages over tournaments:
1. The coach will see you over a longer period of time. They will see the peaks and valleys and gain a great understanding of your caliber of play.
2. They will gain a better understanding of your training habits and how much you commit to practice.
3. They will see how quickly you learn and how well you apply what you are taught to game situations.
4. You will be viewed in small sided games and full field games.
5. Maybe most importantly, they will get to know you as a person. This is a critical thing to most coaches. They do want a certain type of personality on their team. How you behave off the field can be as important to them as how you behave on the field.
I recommend strongly that you attend showcase camps. Even if you send them a game film, it's not the same. Camps are your best chance to show college coaches who you are. Research the ones in the geographical areas where you want to go to college. Go online and see which coaches are attending. Also, if you know you want to go to a specific school - check their website to see if they have an ID camp. Think about the best way to market yourself.
If you're not sure about a camp, then ask your premier coach. They are pretty familiar with most camps and can give you their opinion or recommend some to look into. This is a good thing to do if you're totally lost on where to go - seek advice. Make sure that you just don't take what someone else says. You still have to do the research. All camps are different and you need to understand what you're getting into.
As a coach, I care very much about the type of player I am coaching. Just because you have the best soccer skills doesn't mean you're the best player. I also want to know how hard you work, your leadership skills, are you a good teammate, how quickly you learn and what you're like off the field. Will you fit with the team? It is a lot easier for me to impact your soccer skills than it is for me to change these other attributes. Additionally, being on the wrong side of some of these attributes is something I simply don't want to deal with. In my opinion, the best way for a coach to truly find out what the complete player looks like is to see them at a showcase camp.