Baseball Camps are a "Who's Who" Business: Calling all "Suckers," Pipe Dreamers, and Elite Players Promoting Sub-par Results
WARNING!! Bad Baseball Camps can and will make anyone
want to throw up in their own mouth...
The last thing we want is to get stuck with a $500 Camp tab, and
- NOT get any offers from a college/pro scout, or
- Learn anything game changing.
I'll offer a solution to this fear, and if you've already
been-there-done-that, like myself, then we'll curb this frustration later in the article.
Trust me, I've been there...
I paid $500, back in 1997 (summer before my Junior year in High
School) for a live-in, week-long Stanford camp. Everything was going well, I was having a blast living in the dorms with some of
my local team rivals, was hitting the ball very well, and learned
a couple key techniques in the outfield that would help propel me
to almost sweet perfection in the field at State (2 errors in my
4 years there).
No call from Stanford.
They said I had to get my SAT scores up before they would recruit
me (mine were slightly above 1,000, they wanted 1,300). It's
also important to note, I graduated Valedictorian with an
accumulated GPA in High School of 4.06, and later finished at
Fresno State with a 3.3 and collected 4 Kiwanis Torch of
Excellence Student Athlete Awards.
And boy would I have loved to play ball at Stanford, and ahem,
get a degree there of course...however,
Stanford saying I needed to bring my SAT up to 1300 was B.S. to
me because I had friends with those high scores and their GPA was
lucky to be above a 2.0...they'd get buried at Stanford on just
poor work ethic alone, besides the fact they were just plain
Obviously, this was an excuse because they wanted a perceived
"big" guy outfielder, not a 5'10" 165 lb feather weight like
This was supposedly one of the better baseball camps in the
nation to be invited to. Stanford's baseball program was
ranked No. 1 in Pre-season polls by Baseball America and No. 15
by Collegiate Baseball in 1997.
This is why I went. Wouldn't you?
FINDING THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
Unfortunately, 80% of baseball camps are complete nonsense and
the coaches just want to take your money out to the bars between
camp days (you think I'm kidding). The trick is to find the 20%
or less, who're really out there to give a young ball player the
right approach, and especially when it comes to hitting.
Believe me, I've done it all...I attended pro-scout showcases, Area Code tryouts, and paid & played on "special" Fall Ball
All-Star traveling teams.
What helped me get a scholarship to play 4 years at State?
I was blessed to have a couple High School coaches (slash
cross-checker MLB scouts, Angels and Pirates) in my corner
touting me to schools like Fresno State, Loyola Marymount, USF,
Santa Clara, and UNR (Reno).
Not everyone will be so blessed.
So, what is a smart parent/player to do?
WATCH OUT FOR THE LAND-MINDS
To Search Google for "baseball camps" of course!!
Most likely, your search came up with Ripken camps, college/pro showcases promising elite level scouting, spots to register for
over 100 different camps across the nation, and some pushing over night and multi-day baseball camps.
Watch out, because,
Elite Ball Players DON'T always mean Elite Instruction.
Not to bash what Cal Jr. is doing, or Gwynn, or Harold Reynolds,
but as some of you may already know on Swing Smarter.com, I had
the sweet opportunity to help coach a 2-day camp (twice!!)
featuring the Popeye-forearmed Giant-great Jack Clark.
The dude is awesome and knows a ton. But knowing what I know
now, he was having trouble translating how he did what he
did. He preached out-in-front extension we all know now isn't
the way to Swing Smarter. I know for a fact, if we watched old
film of him under slow motion, we'd see much of a different
The problem with the elite players of our day is they cannot translate the "how" or "why." They're just SUPER good at
Albert Pujols for example was talking hitting
on the MLBNetwork in mid-July 2011, where he preached Down &
Through. Look at him under slow motion, and you'll see a
different story. You'll see bat lag, accelerating barrel during
Slot, close elbows to rib cage during Impact, and gets SUPER
DUPER hip thrust. Albert swings the bat with his hips and core, NOT his hands ("knob" to the ball which he preaches).
What about current or ex-Major League Hitting Coaches putting on
baseball camps? They must know something about hitting if
an MLB team will hire them right?
Check out what my friend Jaime Cevallos (creator of the MP30
hitting aid, featured in The Four Hour Body book by Tim
Ferris) said about Big League hitting coaches on his blog awhile
"MLB hitting coaches are motivated by keeping their job, not
developing innovative principles. If they change a franchise
player’s swing, and that player gets worse, their name is forever
blacklisted. Word will spread that he makes good hitters bad. And
regardless of how many hitters he has helped, the one he "ruined"
will be the bane of his career. GM's will attach his name with
money flying out the window.
He can just take a seat next to Jose Canseco in the list of
people who will never be offered a contract. Because of this, MLB
hitting coaches develop vague hitting methods, appearing to help
when the team is doing well, yet standing on no specific method
when the team is struggling.
It’s common for them to wait until a player on the team gets hot,
and associate themselves to that player as much as possible. I’ve
seen it time and time again."
The point is,
Don't get wrapped up in the "who's who" of baseball camps, or
what "top" University is putting one on. In reality, here are the generalized benefits...they're:
- Definitely fun to go to,
- A great experience living on your own for a few days or a week if it's over night,
- You might learn something new you never knew before,
- Rub elbows with current or ex Major Leaguers, and by the slightest chance
- Someone may like what they see and recruit you if you're at a showcase or University camp.
"SO, WHAT ARE MY CHOICES?"
First of all, we don't want to make a bad decision when it comes to our kids going to baseball camps.
Next, what types of baseball camps are we looking for?
- Recruiting (showcases), and/or
We can go to all the showcases we want, but if we "suck" (for
lack of a better word) as a player, then we're wasting our time.
On the other hand, with good sound mechanics, the trip may be
If we "suck" and take a risk going to one of the many
developmental baseball camps but throw the wrong dart at the
wrong board, if you know what I mean, then we flushed hard
earned money down the toilet along with a loss in time we can't
Can you see the common denominator here?
"Suck." Technique is the limiting factor here. We'll save for
the sake of argument and talk solely about hitting as an example
(HEEEEELLLLO!! This is a hitting site). Showcases are NOT good if we're hitting the ball like we're swinging a wet newspaper.
If we want to roll the dice on picking the "right" camp, then go ahead, but the risk level is too high versus how much money we'll be spending on the camp, lodging, food, and maybe some of the junk hitting aids and DVD's they may be pawning as well.
I apologize for the cynisism, I'm very partial to The Starting Lineup hitting aids :)
I don't want to sound pessimistic here, but there are more people out there running baseball camps waiting to take our money and
give us ZERO value because it's easier that way. They know
we're gullible and desperate for results, so they make sure to line up as many current & ex-Major Leaguers hoping the smoke
screen will be thick enough to get you to camp and be gone with
your money when the smoke clears.
You know a BAD winery when you come in the door and they have
a platter of super bitter cheeses, horse radish, etc set up for
you to eat, in order to cover up the horrible taste of their
You've heard the following hitting concepts before, coming out of
the mouths of the Gywnns, Ripkens, McGriffs at baseball camps or
- "Just see it, and hit it."
- "Throw your hands at the ball."
- "Raise your sites."
Waaaaat? You mean I'm paying $40/DVD or $250/day for
specialized baseball camps telling me I need to "Throw my hands
at the ball?!"
Here's what I would do...
I would put the baseball camps on the back burner for now, if
you're frustrated with the whole process, and hire a hitting
mentor who has proven results, currently works with pro guys &
Major Leaguers, has one kid who's going to be a projected 1st
rounder out of High School in 2012 and says Chas is the man even
after getting instruction from ex-Major Leaguers.
Where and what is this "Chas?"
Chas Pippitt can be found at the Baseball Hitting Rebellion Blog. He does online interactive hitting Evaluations and Lessons
there, and is second to nobody in quality of instruction.
Depending on how hard you work on the drills he gives, you could be ready for those 100's of showcased baseball camps in less than
He's the real deal.
One more thing...
I know I downed most of the websites promoting baseball camps,
but in doing some research I found a pretty popular site showing College Baseball Camp schedules. It has an Alexa.com web ranking in the top 1,000,000 web pages in the world (789,623).
But like I just said, clean up your hitting mechanics with Chas
first before showing your face at any of the programs, take it
from me, you'll have a much better showing than I did at
Return from Baseball Camps back to the Best Hitting Aids on the Planet