I've always had shitty little calves. They're naturally high on my shin, and for years I THOUGHT I was training them hard (lots of volume and frequency), but the growth was almost non-existent. A couple of years ago I even tried an 8 week SuperSlow blast working up to almost 600 lbs that only gave me a mere 1/8" of growth!
Last year I made up my mind that I had to prioritize calves. I had to make a real connection with them... almost a love affair. They became my main focus every day. I'd look at them from every angle in the mirror and in the shower. I'd flex them in all different positions - all to make THAT connection.
First thing I did in the gym was dump the traditional standing calf raise machine. Too many guys half-ass it anyway and so it's no use using a calf machine where your heel stretches lower that your toes on the block. So I began doing FLAT-FOOTED, BARE-FOOTED calf raises in the Smith Machine! I'd ramp up several sets until I reached 350 lbs or so, then I would explode up, hold for a moment at the top, and slowly lower until my heels were flat on the floor, then repeat until I hit failure (usually 18 to 20 reps). Then I'd rest only long enough to allow the burn to go away, catch a quick drink from my bottle, then back under again for a set to failure. I continued this as each set I was doing less and less reps due to fatigue. I'd terminate the session when I reached the point where my reps were falling below 5 or 6. Sometimes this happened within 9 sets, sometimes 12. I increased weight when I could do more than 20 reps on the first set.
Two or 3 days later I did Calf Presses on the Selectorized Stack Leg Press machine. In this position, it's almost like a Donkey Calf Raise. Same as before, I started by ramping up the weight until I got to the heaviest set that allowed for 12 to 15 reps. Explode on the push, slow on the descent for a full stretch, until failure. Then rest until the burn subsides. Now, on the next set, I'd reduce the weight 30 lbs and go to failure again. Rest, reduce 50 lbs, and failure? continue until you can only get 5 reps a set, then stop the session.
The following week, I'd repeat the Smith Calf Raises as described above.
Then 2-3 days after that I'd do the Calf Presses on the Leg Press again... only now, after a thorough warm-up I'd train each leg separately, starting off with a weight that allows 10 negative only reps! I'd do this by pushing with both feet until fully contracted, then remove one foot and let the other SLOWLY lower into a full stretch. Then repeat until 10 reps are reached. Then switch to the other foot. These are a killer and you should only do 3 sets. Add weight when you can do over 12 reps each foot.
For variety, I'd sometimes do this session where it's still negative-only reps, but I'd alternate each foot as I repped. In other words, push with both, lower with left foot, push with both, lower with right foot until failure. I'd end up each of these sessions with dropping the weight by half, and just repping the hell out of both legs together for a set or two.
Then the next week redo the Smith Calf routine.
Soreness was devastating at first. But if possible, I'd do calf raises in the shower every day, as I washed my hair or whatever. Just a couple of sets of 30 to 50 reps for a nice little pump.
Within 4 months I brought my once-shitty calves up an inch and a half! And on a small guy like me, that's substantial!