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Picking an AAU Program

I get asked all the time should my son/daughter play AAU basketball? Or I get the comment, my son is going to play AAU basketball this year. Their are a number of programs sprouting up all across America. I receive an email from 4 or 5 programs in my area near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. How do you pick the right experience for your young player. Here are my thoughts after over 22 years of coaching basketball and basketball skill development at all levels from Kindergarten to seniors in college.

There are five criteria that I believe every parent should have for getting the right program for your youngster.

First criteria is what is the mission of the AAU program you are looking at. How is the program structured? Where are the practices? How many practices per week? I would look for a program where development is the primary purpose of the program. I would like to see a developmental program and a AAU program. Not everyone should be playing AAU basketball .

My second criteria is who will be coaching and developing the players. I want a coach very strong in teaching the game and has a high level of positive energy to bestow on the players. I also would like to see how the coach coaches a game. Some coaches are extremely good in practice but become a different person during the game. This particular coach needs to have strong character, the right purpose and passion for the job of coaching and developing the players.

Third criteria is that every player needs to develop in some way. I do not want a practice player and a game player. All the players need to have defined roles developed by the coach. The practices should be 80 percent skill development and 20 percent game preparation. I would like to see a commitment rule placed in the program. Practice without players is not helpful. Delve deeper into your youngsters' team before commitment is made. Your commitment and the teammates commitment needs to be 100%. Working on a formal schedule where practices are presented at tryouts and the commitment is there from the program is an important criteria. Practice to me is more important that the games.

Fourth criteria is where are you going to play? I would like to see two out of town tournaments and two around your area. If playing in a qualifier is part of your goals for your son/daughter than make sure your team is in one. I believe playing two out of town tournaments allows the players to see how other kids their age across the United States and Internationally is doing with the basketball fundamentals. Make sure the mission fits your goals and the tournaments fit the Programs' mission.

My last criteria is cost. The cost for uniforms, travel bags and tryouts need to be analyzed. A great basketball experience with an increase in development by your son/daughter is well worth the price you pay. Remember you need to receive value that makes sense. Quality practices that are challenging and work hard on the fundamentals. Quality tournaments that help increase the development and allow the team to be competitive and quality people who have the players' best interest is Priceless.

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