Create a sports camp agenda that will get parents and players excited for your event!
If you’re a coach, you’ve probably tossed around the idea of running your own youth sports camp - and for good reason. Camps are a great way to build your sports program’s brand and increase exposure in your local community. They’re an effective way to evaluate a large group of athletes for an upcoming league season and for athletes to get a lot of training in a short time. And let’s not kid ourselves, camps are a great source of short (but labor intensive) training time.
So, you have the facilities booked, flyers are printed, online registration is live and the links are up on social media… now what? Do you have a plan for once you get the campers in the door? It’s time to get your agenda down on paper.
In addition to helping you and your staff plan, sharing the sports camp schedule with parents and athletes when they arrive at the camp will be a hit. This will give athletes an idea of what to expect, and should get them excited for the training ahead. This will help to reassure parents that they are leaving their kids in responsible hands. It will demonstrate that you are prepared and capable of working with these youth athletes. On top of having a clear and concise outline, you should also take into consideration a backup plan for the unpredictable (ie: weather if this is an outdoor training camp).
The below sample sports camp schedule can be altered to work for a variety of different camp lengths and sport types. Of course, your agenda is going to depend on the skill-level of the camp you're hosting. For example, if it’s more of a college recruiting or showcase event, you’re going to be doing more playing than drills and coaching. However, most of the ideas below can be applied to youth sports camps, whether shorter day events or week long overnight camps.
- Get players checked in. This might include picking up t-shirts, turning in forms or sending them to their sleeping quarters if the camp is overnight. Check-in is always easiest if you have an online sports registration system to limit bottlenecks the morning of the event!
- Session I: Evaluation
- While many think you should start with a camp meeting to go over rules, I disagree. Kids are anxious to play, and unless you know they’re all troublemakers, let’s get into the first training. Usually this is a more intensive exercise with little to zero coaching and gives the staff a chance to do a quick evaluation of their players and make adjustments, like moving a kid up or down an age group. This can be done in a game-like setting (scrimmage) or individual skill work, like juggling a soccer ball or dribbling drills with a basketball.
- Session II: Small Sided or Drills
- Now that the first session is complete, it's time to start building the fundamentals. This activity will depend on how many days your camp is running. If it’s a longer, 4-5 day camp, I would suggest doing short, small-sided games, ex: 3-on-3 basketball games or 6-on-6 soccer games. This will allow for lot’s of touches, and will be fun for the athletes. If it’s only a few days, I would suggest doing technique/fundamental drills.
- Session III: Go Big
- This session should include full-size scrimmages and games, applying the things you preached in a game setting.
- Camp Meeting
- I think the camp meeting should always be reserved for the final spot on the first day. If it’s a day camp, parents will be there and can hear you go over the rules and see the smiles on their kids faces after a fun day. If it’s an overnight camp, kids will have a basis of how the rest of the week will go so they can make sense of the rules and guidelines.
Day Two (plus use this section as a guide for additional camp days!)
- Breakfast/Drop off
- Session I: Stations/Rotations
- I am a firm believer that each morning should be used to teach kids different topics in smaller setting, allowing kids to rotate between different coaches. This allows instructors to take the topics taught each morning and build on those topics/skills for the rest of the day. It also allows athletes to be exposed to different coaching styles and methods. If all you’re doing is scrimmaging, will kids get better? This is the session where “teaching” happens… and hopefully, they can apply those new skill moves later in the day.
- If overnight, this is a great opportunity for kids to hit the pool or get some mid-day rest.
- Session II: Play
- It's time to take those new moves and skills and apply in game settings.
- Session III: Play
- Have the kids play against another camp team. One idea is to keep tallies of results for seeding for the final day.
- Camp-Wide Event/Parent Pickup
- If overnight, this is a great chance to get all of the campers together to watch the staff demo different skills or have a scrimmage so they can see what it’s like to play at the next level.
- Breakfast/Drop off
- Session I
- Here is the perfect opportunity to bring all of the different components of camp together and have a fun and competitive tournament with the campers teams. Invite parents to come out and watch their athletes.
- Final Camp Meeting/Send Off
- Have a final camp meeting to send them off on a high note in front of the parents. Thank the staff, hand out any divisional awards, and give your sales pitch to get campers to come back next year. Staff should also use this time to hand out athlete evaluations to each camper in their group/team with feedback and areas of improvement. Download an athlete evaluation form to get you started.