Although I grew up living a privileged neighborhood playing for an elementary school team full of skilled players, the school season of basketball wasn’t enough for my itching craving of playing basketball at any possible moment, and my parents knew it.
AAU (Amatuer Athletic Union) basketball was a godsend for my family. It gave us the chance to travel to different cities and play against incredibly skilled players that we normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play against. Playing for different AAU basketball teams were some of the best times I had in my life. Other than the time I woke up with bed bug bites all over my body in a hotel room in the bay area, I hold all of my travel basketball memories very fondly.
The AAU basketball players often hold an advantage over those who don’t play in the league, or other similar travel team leagues. There are also some aspects of AAU that just straight up suck. I will explain my reasoning for both perspectives.
Players in AAU leagues are commonly among the best basketball talent in the nation. Many NBA players who kept focused on playing their main sport of basketball played on the AAU circuit, many of them actually being teammates.
AAU runs year round, and other than playing for the high school basketball team, they aren’t much better opportunities for basketball recruits to get noticed by coaches and recruiters. College programs scout for talent to add to their program year round, and if a kid isn’t playing year round as well, then the chances of being noticed by someone who could recruit them are slimmer. Getting noticed at these year round games create a better opportunity to be noticed and build a relationship with the recruiters and college coaches at the next level. Tournaments can be fantastic opportunities to meet these coaches. Since they can see a lot of players over a course of just a few days, it’s an opportunity for the player and parents to help recruitment.
For the players that love basketball, then AAU may be their passion. It gives them the chance to play ball year round and play the game they love.
Since there is different talent and different types of players, different coaching schemes, and other differences between the AAU style of ball verse high school, AAU can give kids the chance to play different types of positions than they normally do. This helps them learn different skill sets on the court, and learn that maybe they are better adapted to a different position, and AAU gave them that opportunity.
Some AAU programs are very political, and certain kids get favoritism because of who their parents are, and it can lead to a disgruntled team and community surrounding the team. This isn’t just particular in AAU, it happens in all different types of programs. But, many parents who get their kids to play AAU have incredibly high aspirations for their children, and it can lead to negative actions in light of the team.
AAU teams also travel a lot. It is somewhat ridiculous how far some teams will travel considering the abundance of basketball players all around the nation. Some teams will travel upwards of five hours for games to play other teams when there can be equal talent much closer. Some kids start to get burned out from the frequent traveling and start to feel like they are missing out on their youth.
The one-trick pony effect can negatively correlate to a player’s talent on the basketball court. For those AAU players who just play basketball and no other sports, they don’t develop many other skill sets that actually could help them on the court. Different sports help players gather different talents. Particularly sports like soccer, baseball, football, gymnastics, wrestling, track and field, as well as others can help players get better hand-eye coordination, footwork, speed, leaping ability, an understanding of how the body moves, and targeting different types of muscles.
Do some research on the AAU program that you are considering participating in. Sometimes the coaches can be extremely lackluster, hot-headed, political, and simply idiotic. For a child to hone his skill sets on the basketball court, the coaching program plays a huge contributing factor into that. At the same time though, AAU has some truly superb coaches who can help put kids into the best position for success and instill a hard work ethic into a player.
The most important factor when considering placing a child in an AAU program is to know if that is a good fit for them. If they have the opportunity for success, and the passion for the game, do a healthy amount of research and talking with your child to put them in a good position for the future.
Visit https://www.aausports.org/ – for all types of competitive sports, from volleyball, to basketball, to baseball, you can get information for information regarding local AAU circuits. There is also news, event information, and other interesting information regarding the AAU community.