I think "exposure" is great, but also very wasted when players just go into it hoping to be discovered and thinking that simply being there is enough. There's more to it than that.
If you're not going to take full advantage of that opportunity, I think you're better off going on unofficial visits to the schools you are interested in.
That in itself puts you one step up over simply going to a showcase without having any clue what you want or what you're looking for "hoping" that "someone" will do "somehing" to help you take your game to the next level.
The second option implies that you've given some thought to what kind of school you want to go to and have selected a group of schools to target in your marketing efforts.
Now if you ARE taking time to figure out what you're looking for AND contact the coaches of those schools AND are able to attend showcase/exposure events they will be at, then I think those events can be a powerful tool for you. It *may* take up less time than trying to go to individual school camps?
Basically the more you put in to the process and in to getting yourself out there, the more you'll get out of it.
Too many times I see players attend showcases and do NOTHING else which is why between the 2 options you gave I lean more toward the second since it involves a more thought out, more focused effort rather than the "I'm going to attend this event and Voila! Scholarships will fall in my lap" mentality.
The problem with showcase tournaments is what happened to my DD.
We went to an October showcase in Virginia Beach. The first day we were at the main field, and in one game we were facing a pitcher (my DD was a SS) being highly recruited by ACC teams among others. In the 2 games we played that day, my DD walked 5 times (and every AB started 2-0 or 3-0) and had 1 routine ground ball hit to her. She faced the P being recruited twice - walked after going 3-0, then lined out to RF after several scouts had left. She could hit very well and is a tremendous defensive player - but who could tell on that day?? The next 2 days we played at other fields, at non-prime times, and against teams with nobody being followed.
FYI she eventually walked on to a DI team and played 4 years, earning a 50% scholarship her last 2 years.
If I had to do it over again, it would be camps for sure. For pitchers it may be different - there is a certainty that pitchers can show their stuff.
When do you recommend to start going to camps. We have done several at our local colleges, but my daughter is just 15. Are we too early? We have also noticed that there are several different types of camps; should we focus on more advanced camps and residence camps or will the general camps provide the same benefit?
I can tell you this from first hand experience that college coaches want constant communication with players.They love it when players show alot of interest in there programs. So contact them as much as possible and go to all the camps you can of the schools you are really interested in.
Absolutely. Part of my standard speech to first time parents is, don't be shy. Have your DD email everytime she has an excuse like a new schedule or good results to report. If the coach is interested in you, they will be happy to hear from you a lot. If the coach is NOT interested in you but likes you and your play, they are likely to recommend you to one of their friends. If the coach isn't interested and thinks you email or call to much, they aren't interested, so what do you care what they think? Don't be shy.
Online videos, dvd's, exposure tourneys with lots of coach notification beforehand, selected college camps...that's all good. Hopefully you get the opportunities and get hot at the right time. Having said that, some coaches get excited by the way you swing the bat even if you got out or missed. Warmups between inning are a prime time to display your glove skills and arm strength. Be aware you are "ON" from the time the car door shuts till the time the engine fires up and you head home. I know a kid who started four years at West Point. Sure she could play but the clincher was she got called out looking on a terrible call and she didn't say a word or give a look. She just turned and ran back to the dugout. That kind of discipline was what West Point was looking for. OTOH, lots of kids have missed opportunities they never knew they had because of behavioral reasons. Another opportunity is running out a ground out. That's not what you were hoping for, but it IS an opportunity to show your hustle and your speed. Coaches watch you in the dugout to see how you relate to your team mates, is your head in the game, are you trying to pattern the pitcher, are you supporting and picking up your team mates? Do you show respect for the coach? Do you mouth off to mom, dad, umpire or anyone else? You never know when a coach, or someone a coach trusts, is watching.
While it is a heart warming story about West Point, the real reason that the kid was recruited was because of her batting average or arm and not because she was a nice person.
The salary of a coach is directly related to how many games they win in the post-season. They are interested in players who can help them win games.
It is true that coaches have to also sit on the bus with players, so they would prefer to have nice people on the bus. But, the more talented a player is, the more tolerant a coach is of the player's behavior. (Softball is no different than football, basketball or lacrosse.)
As I said, no doubt she could play. Defensively she was worth the price of admission by herself. I'd buy a ticket to watch her take grounders...BUT...the clincher, absolutely, was the attitude. If she barks at the ump on that at bat, she's going to school somewhere else besides West Point. West Point isn't for everyone and they don't need someone who has a problem with authority or who has a tendency toward mouthiness, but then who does. This is from her gold coach at the time who talked to her and to the West Point coach. Doesn't surprise me at all though. I've walked away from looking at a kid because dad had a big mouth in the stands and I'm not scouting for West Point. Don't need it. Too many other girls. Now if she's the second coming of Fernandez, it's a sliding scale. But there's still a scale.