Baseball Camps are a "Who's Who" Business: Calling all "Suckers," Pipe Dreamers, and Elite Players Promoting Sub-par Results

Baseball Camps: The Truth

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).

The result?

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 lazy.

Obviously, this was an excuse because they wanted a perceived "big" guy outfielder, not a 5'10" 165 lb feather weight like myself.

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 story.

The problem with the elite players of our day is they cannot translate the "how" or "why." They're just SUPER good at "doing."

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 back:

"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?

  1. Recruiting (showcases), and/or
  2. Developmental.

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 worth it.

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 get back.

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.

Another option,

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 :)

MY SOLUTION??


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 house wine.

You've heard the following hitting concepts before, coming out of the mouths of the Gywnns, Ripkens, McGriffs at baseball camps or on DVD's...

  • "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 90 days.

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 Stanford.

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