Need Help Choosing the Right AAU Team for Your Child?
Finding the right AAU team for your child can be difficult. There are so many AAU options out there in the youth basketball world today. Navigating through these options can be confusing, overwhelming, and frustrating for parents. There are many different factors to take into account when choosing an AAU basketball team that fits well not only with your child, but also with your family’s values. But don’t worry! Having been involved with AAU basketball full-time for the last 4 years as the Co-founder and Director of PSB Select in Charlotte NC, I am here to help try to answer some of those questions and concerns.
Below are a list of factors you should take into account when deciding on the right AAU basketball team for your child.
GOALS AND MISSION
To me, this is the one of the most important factors when deciding on an AAU team. I’ve seen so many different reasons for AAU basketball teams to be around – sometimes good and sometimes, in my opinion, not so good, but it really depends on what you value.
Some questions to ask any AAU basketball organization would be the following:
- Does the AAU team or organization actually have a mission statement or intended goals, and do they seem to live up to that?
- Does the AAU team care about player development? Or are they more interested in playing a ton of games?
- Does the AAU team focus on having a good time with friends regardless of wins and losses? Or is this a cut-throat AAU team that wants to bring in as much talent as possible and try to win national championships?
- Can you feel the positive or negative influence from the AAU organization’s culture?
- Is playing time earned by players or divided equally among them?
The goals and mission here at Pro Skills Basketball (PSB) Select are stated clearly on our website: Our teams are instructed by experienced and knowledgable coaches whose focus is the improvement of our individual players, not simply winning championships. Our mission is to prepare players for the next level of their basketball careers while also teaching them life lessons that will lead to success off the court as well.
For some people, these goals and mission may not fit what they value or are looking for in an AAU basketball team, and that is totally fine. We know we are not the right fit for every player and family and vice versa, but it’s better to know this ahead of time before you commit to something that won’t end up working out!
Obviously, coaching should be a huge consideration when choosing an AAU team. After all, this is one of the main contributors to your child’s development and overall basketball experience.
- Is the team coached by a parent of a player on the team? Is he or she fair, or do they unfairly give their child more playing time?
- What experience does the coach have?
- Is the coach positive or negative?
- Is the coach quiet or loud? Does he or she scream and yell at players and/or refs?
- Does the coach act in a way that is a good role model for the kids?
- Has the coach been put through a background check?
Our goal is always to get experienced, knowledgeable, positive and non-parent coaches. We then put them through background checks and require them to become USA Youth Basketball Licensed. It’s not easy, but we believe it’s worth it!
Practices are where players develop their skills and teams get better and ultimately win games. However, if practices are poorly run, there may as well not even be practices because it’s all for nothing. Some questions to ask:
- Does the team practice? How often? When? Or is this a team where players just show up for games?
- Is there skill development in practices? Or is it all scrimmaging?
- Does the coach actually coach/teach in practices? Or do the players do whatever they want?
- If there are practices, do all players attend?
In our experience, most AAU basketball teams either do not practice or they “practice”, but it’s more of a “roll the ball out and play” type of situation. We, on the other hand, require our teams to practice twice a week, and skill development is a big part of that along with controlled scrimmaging and situational play.
- Does the team play in tournaments or leagues or both?
- Does the team play AAU, USBA, YBOA, USSSA, NTBA, and/or non-sanctioned events?
- Does the team travel out of town for tournaments?
- Does the team play in “showcase” events?
The types of games our teams play depend on the season (fall/winter or spring/summer) as well as the age group and skill level of the team. For instance, our younger AAU teams will not travel to play because we think that time and money can be better spent elsewhere at that age. Conversely, beginning in 10th grade because that is typically when colleges start recruiting players, we have “showcase” teams that travel where necessary to NCAA Certified events where college coaches can come watch teams play.
Clearly, the costs of playing on the team should certainly be considered beforehand. Most teams have an expense associated with them, but they can vary greatly.
- How much are the team fees?
- What do the fees cover?
- If the team travels, are those costs covered? If not, what are they?
- Is financial aid available?
Our PSB Select team fees require a significant financial investment, but that is because our fees cover everything we offer, including coaches salary, practice time, leagues or tournaments, uniforms, insurance, etc … not to mention we’ve dedicated our lives to this and it’s our full-time job! We also offer financial aid for qualifying players in need, and last season we were able to give out $16,000 worth!
Of course there are other questions to consider, but the ones above are the main factors to consider when finding an AAU team for your child. Other questions include:
- Is the team organized?
- Does the team communicate well with parents?
- What’s the uniform situation?
- For older teams, do they help the players get recruited?
Looking for an AAU basketball team in your city? Check out our list of upcoming PSB Select AAU team tryouts in our cities, including my city Charlotte, here!