I get asked for this advice often so I’m writing this post to direct all who ask.
- Where Can You Find A Complete List Of Camps? Nowadays, Nowhere. Eurobasket.com used to publish a full list right here — this is where I found every camp I’ve ever been to — but they smelled the scent of money and now charge organizations $150 USD just to list their camp (very bad idea by Eurobasket, losing their stronghold on being the only place to go for overseas players, just to make a few extra bucks). Many organizations and good camps are not paying this fee — it’s a snowball effect, because as each one chooses not to, the less credible Eurobasket’s listings become — which makes it harder for you, the player, to find a good camp. You will have to do some more digging now to find camps. I have listed the camps I’ve been to here but there are more, of course. Your best bet, in my opinion, is to go by word of mouth — ask you college coach to ask around, contact former players from your school who have been overseas. If/when you do find a prospective camp, use this guide for vetting them. It is your money and time, after all.
- This Is Still Basketball. Nothing Special. You have played plenty of basketball if you are at this stage. And you’ve probably tried out, successfully, for teams before. A pro camp is higher stakes, no doubt, and this is probably your first time paying to try out for a team. But it’s still just basketball. Same sized ball, same rules. The hoop is still ten feet above the floor. A layup is still two points and a free throw is still one point. A foul is still a foul. On the court, you are playing the game you’ve always played. Nothing changes.
- Show Up And Be Prepared. Simply put, be in-shape and ready to play basketball. Pro camps may be new to you, but it’s still played on a basketball court with a basketball — you’re plenty familiar with those. There are no special rules that get rolled out or new dimensions to the playing area or anything like that — it’s basketball. You’re playing basketball against other human beings. If you can play, there will be no surprises at a camp. If you can’t play, you can’t hide. Period.
- Be Seen And Not Heard Off The Court. The first pro camp I ever attended was only two days long. On the first night, a bunch of players, being in Orlando for the first time (like I was too), wanted to explore the club scene while there, and from what I heard, they did. It is highly unlikely that you can land a job on a pro team strictly by your conduct off the court. But you damn sure can lose a job with your conduct off the court. This is a business trip so treat it like one. If you don’t know what “business trip” means, follow this blueprint: Go to every camp function, and when they’re over, go to your hotel room and sit your ass down. There’s nothing wrong with sightseeing, but make sure it does not interfere with your camp schedule. No nightclubs, no drinking, no girl-chasing. You can do that all year at home; can you discipline yourself for three days to begin or advance your career? Is it worth it? And if you do choose to do any of that, do it out of the sight of any camp or pro team staff attending. That would be dumb.
- Stand Out. What are you good at in basketball (if you cannot answer this — why are you attending a camp???)? Do that as best you can. Make people remember you. No one needs to tell you how — if you’re attending a professional camp, you must feel you’re good in some way, shape or form. Show people why.
- Stay In Your Lane. The absolute dumbest thing you could possibly do is try to do something you’re incapable of and kill your chances in one fell swoop. Do you shoot threes? No? Then don’t shoot that shit. Are you an open-court ball handler? No? Then pick the damn ball up and get it to your ball handlers. One you-know-that’s-not-yuor-game play can undo all of your hard work. Be the player you are and nothing more.
- Tolerate Teammates. You will have bad teammates who simply cannot play at this level. You will have teammates who are planning to shoot every time (and will masterfully execute that plan). You’ll have loudmouth teammates who have some instruction or tip for everyone, every time down the floor. Don’t let any of these teammates get to you — they won’t be your teammates 7 days from now, and the coaches are watching. Focus on the task at hand and do what you came to do. Be where you should be on the floor. Take your shots. By all means, play defense. Your teammates were who they were before they got there. Let them be them and worry about you.
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Dre Baldwin is an author of 27 books (including Work On Your Game: Using The Pro Athlete Mindset To Dominate Your Game In Business, Sports and Life) who played professional basketball overseas for nearly a decade. Dre has published over 15,542 pieces of content to date. Dre teaches the Discipline, Confidence and Mental Toughness that made him a professional athlete and how it applies both to the business world and everyday life.