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Camp arms are individuals who are invited to participate in spring training, but who are not really expected to make the final cut and become part of the team when the new season begins. The idea of the camp arm is most closely associated with American football, although the term is used in the context of other sports as well. Depending on the circumstances, a camp arm may find a spot in the second string lineup of the team when the season begins. In sports where the use of a third string or fourth string lineup is common, the camp arm may also be assigned to one of those two categories.
When it comes to functioning as a camp arm in the National Football League or NFL, the player is considered to be proficient enough to be invited to participate in the NFL camp. However, the skill level is not generally determined to be worthy of inclusion in the first string of a club. This does not mean the camp arm lacks essential talents. The thought process may be that with additional training, the individual will eventually be worthy of making the first string. In the interim, the player may be invited to take a slot in a lesser string.
As the camp arm continues to improve, there is a chance for the player to undergo a process that is usually referred to as rostering out of camp. This essentially means that the player is now considered good enough to take a slot on the first string when and as the appropriate position becomes available. In some sports, rostering out of camp can also mean the player can be approached by other clubs and possibly earn a first string position with a different team.
Earning a reputation as a camp arm does not mean that a career as a professional sports player is out of the question. But it usually does mean less immediate opportunities in the short term. By exhibiting a credible level of expertise at training camp, the camp arm may eventually become more attractive to scouts and team coaches and eventually have the chance to move up in the sport.