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February 09, 2012

To Soccer Camps or Not to Soccer Camps

Soccer 02

Hubert Vogelsinger

Founder Vogelsinger Soccer Academy
Former North American Soccer League and Yale University Coach

Soccer camps are not for everyone nor are all camps for all players.  If you get you get your kicks out of juggling a ball around the backyard and banging a few shots off the garage, don’t bother looking into summer camps.  You’re already getting everything you want out of the game. But if you want to play soccer competitively and be the player you can be, a week or more at a soccer camp is a good investment.  Like any investment, it should be made carefully. Choosing a camp is a very personal decision—almost like choosing a college—and the first question you have to face is, what do you hope to get out of the experience?

Know yourself; know what you are looking for.  And take this into consideration when making your decision. You like soccer but on your terms. Maybe what you want is a “resort” where they happen to teach soccer.  You are expecting all your needs catered to when you are off the field.  You want to live in the grand style to which you are accustomed.  The grounds, facilities, buildings had better be lavish or you’re going to wish you had stayed at home.

Are you just as interested in the swimming pool, tennis facilities, and other recreational opportunities as soccer?  Then you want a camp where you can sail, swim, play tennis or golf; where soccer, although your main interest, is just a part of your option for activity each day.  You’ll probably enjoy a camp as long as you have room to kick a ball and someone with whom to play.  Look for a camp with a lot of unstructured and non-compulsory activities and where the focus is on full-scale games and scrimmages.

If you are the player who has pretty much decided that soccer is your major sport n high school, the fun will be in the challenge the program provides. You want a program that is serious, well organized, run by well-known experts who can also teach. You want to insure a technical and tactical improvement as well as overall understanding and playing of the game.  Dormitory and cafeteria are important to you, but are of secondary importance. Just let there be luscious grassy fields, lots of soccer instruction, and challenging competition. An intensive one-week program is probably just the thing for you.

If your dream has already clearly manifested itself in your mind’s eye to become a high school all-star, an All-American, or playing for your country in Olympic or World Cup, the ordinary camp program will not challenge you.  You should look for an “Academy” with an intensive two or three week program.  Such a program will have a diverse international coaching staff for which soccer is both a profession and a passion.  The highly professional environment at an “Academy,” an environment without outside distractions, and where everyone is striving for the same goal—to be the best they can be—will inspire you to reach a playing level never imagine possible.  You want your game tunes by masters, no matter how grueling the program may be.  And it will be!  You’ll need to be really dedicated, mentally focused, and in top physical condition for this kind of program.  It will have demanding standards, limited enrollment, personal attention, be highly competitive, and surely with techniques or visualization and other refinements.

There is a new development in camps, one designed for the specialist.
The goalkeeper camp, for example, not as new as the striker’s camp, was set up for the obvious reason that the goalie needs special training.  Working with specialists has great advantages.  And being among goalkeepers exclusively creates a special fellowship. However, with the elimination of the back pass, the expanded role of the goalkeeper, now more than ever, necessitates that he is integrated into total team play.

The newest specialty camp is the striker camp.  Of course, for most, scoring goals is the most exciting aspect of the game.  And working with specialists who focus singularly on scoring goals is obviously of great benefit.  But there is a definite limitation, from a physical point of view.  How many shots can you take in a day without muscular damage?  And there’s a lot to be said for the well-rounded player, particularly at camp age.

There are strong pluses and just as strong minuses.  You’ll have to decide where the balance lies for you.

Players, coaches, parents and others interested in the 2012 Vogelsinger Soccer Academy locations can visit https://www.ussportscamps.com/soccer/vogelsinger or call 1-800-645-3226.

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