What is a Camp Arm?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

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, this person 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.

Camp arms are most often connected to football.
Camp arms are most often connected to football.

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 athlete 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 athlete may eventually become more attractive to scouts and team coaches and eventually have the chance to move up in the sport.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@ddljohn-- There is no such thing that a camp arm will never become a player. There have been quite a few talented and successful football players who were once a camp arm. Kurt Warner, for example, used to be a camp arm for the Green Bay Packers once upon a time. And now we speak of him as one of the best players of AFL. So being a camp arm is not a bad thing. It needs to be thought of as a stepping stone.


@ddljohn-- I'm not a football expert either but I always thought that the "camp arm" was the guy that helps the team players get ready for the season. He practices with them, throws ball, etc.

I think camp arms know that they're never going to play. They do it just to be part of the experience. A lot of people also take this role to learn more and practice as they work with the other players. It's actually a great experience for aspiring players.


I'm very ignorant about football, so I apologize if this question sounds dumb. But why does a team need a camp arm again?

If this person never makes it onto the team and if he can never play in the games, what's the point?

I would be very disappointed if I was a camp arm and I'm sure I wouldn't want to stay on in that position for long. That can't be a good feeling for any player.

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