The first few years running the summer basketball camp at the high school where I coach were very stressful for me. I sweated little things that, come to find out, the campers, parents and student coaches couldn’t care less about. Going into my 9th year running the camp I can honestly say that I look forward to it. Here are a few tips that I learned the hard way. Maybe they will help some younger coaches not freak out like I did.
- Most….perhaps everyone hates rubber basketballs. Parents hate them. Kids don’t care. Coaches HATE Them. I use to spend a few hours before every session blowing up stupid rubber basketballs and having my players write the camper’s name on them. Soon I learned that the only purpose of writing their name on the ball was to know which camper left the ball behind and didn’t care about bringing it home because they have 5 nice indoor/outdoor balls in their garage.
- Sizing shirts is hard. I fail every year at gauging camper shirt sizes. The worst year was the year I learned that kids don’t want their clothes baggy any more. Got lots of XLs locked in my storage cage at school still. The past few years I have used an online company called My T-print. Their prices are great. I think it was $3.40 for a white shirt with a single color logo. If you are interested the company said they would give you a $20 credit if you mention Hoop Coach.
- Activity is key. As long as kids are moving around and someone is “hyping” them up your camp will be a success. Boring drills are fun to kids as long as they can yell, run around and be wild.
- Nicknames. Since it is pretty difficult to learn 100+ kids names in 4 or 5 days I roll with nicknames based on shoe color, head bands or whatever. Kids love it and I don’t embarrass myself by calling them the wrong name.
- Registration – It might just be that I am not organized or smart enough to run the registration table but I recommend farming this gig out. I have my wife do it every year. She is way better at it and definitely better looking.
- Give them something to show their parents – You can do things like evaluations or give them handouts full of summer works OR do what I do – tweet scores, upload game films, post pictures on our team website. Kids love it and parents share it.
- Pull out the bleachers and use the scoreboard– this is more for younger kids but for whatever reason pulling out the bleachers is like injecting each kid with 2000mg of sugar. They love it.
- Most of us are NOT running a 5 Star Camp – if you are running a kids camp at your school it’s really not reasonable to turn a 3rd string point guard from the local grade school into a star. Make sure the kids take a few things with them they can practice in their driveway and the rest is up to them. This is really my objective every year at camp. Have fun, teach the kids to love the game and get them to take home AT LEAST one thing they can apply to improve for their seasons.
Any coaches got some suggestions or things they can share with me to make my camp better? If so, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks!
Great ideas, Coach. One thing I do with T-shirts, is we have a spot on the registration form for them to fill in their shirt size. If your camp is small enough, you have enough time between the first day and last day, and you have a local shirt shop, they can usually turn them out in 3 or 4 days. On a different note, I totally agree with the idea that you need to make the “boring” drills fun. We also add competitions in on a regular basis – dribbling contests, shooting contests, etc. – and we make sure that each day they play some games – usually 3 on 3 – even if it’s only for 15 minutes at the end. Thanks for the post!
Thanks for the info, coach! So you do shirts on the last day?