SOME ADVICE ON SELECTING AN AAU TEAM
Bob Foley
Next Level Basketball

You need to be careful how you select your team. Make sure you talk to the coach and get the answers that you want to hear. AAU organizations have certain philosophies that they may preach but the team coach has the final say so make sure you go to the source (the coach) for the information you need. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions in advance or you can set yourself and your child up for a frustrating and miserable experience. Below are some areas that you want to investigate before making the commitment.

PHILOSOPHY
Speak with the coach about his goals and expectations. Do they match your expectations? Ask how practices will be run. Will there be a lot of teaching or will there be a lot of plays and scrimmaging. Will the players play man to man Defense or Zone? Will they run set plays or fast break?
Is winning more important than player development? If the coach is all gung-ho on winning states and their national ranking, you need to be very careful on how you proceed, especially if your child is not one of the top players on the team.
If your child is over 14 and is interested in playing basketball in college, exposure becomes a key factor in selecting a team to play with. This is where the coach’s philosophy on playing time is critical.

PLAYING TIME

95% of the parent/coach issues involve playing time.
Let’s face the facts! Just about every AAU parent would rather their child play well than the team do well.
They say that winning solves a lot of problems but none more than playing time! Before any type of commitment, you must find out what is the coach’s philosophy on playing time?
Below are some of the options that you may hear.
1.) Player development is the primary goal. Equal time for all players;
2.) Each player will play at least a few minutes in each game. The rest is left to coach’s discretion.
3.) We play to win! The better players will play and less experienced players sit especially in close games.
4.) Some teams guarantee that each player will play in every game except state and national qualifying tournaments.

Find out before tryouts and be sure that the coach is clear on this issue. Before joining the team, be positive that you and your child can live with what you hear from the coach.

PRACTICE
How many days a week will they practice? What are the coaches rules on missed practices. If you miss a practice do you miss any game time? Be aware that coach’s who are concerned about winning will sometimes not punish their better players for missing practice. The player will miss key practices and still play a majority of the game while bench players show up on time to every practice and still don’t play This can become a major problem as the season progresses.

TOURNAMENTS
How many tournaments will you be playing in each month? How many are out of town and will require a hotel stay? What is the [policy if you have a family conflict and have to miss a tournament?
If the team qualifies for the national tournament, do they plan to go? Where is the National tournament? How long will the season go? Some teams play until late July, even early August. Ask for an advance schedule of tournaments the team is planning to attend.

TEAM SIZE
How many players are going to be on the team? Some coaches like big squads but there are only a certain number of minutes each game. If coaches are keeping more than 11 players there will be playing time issues!!! Find out before tryouts how many players the coach is planning on keeping.

MONEY
How much will this cost me? Where is my money going? Do I pay for coach’s travel, tournament entry fees and uniforms? What do I have to pay for during team travel? Hotels, meals, travel coast? How many tournaments will require an overnight stay? What kind of Fundraisers are planned and what involvement is expected of the parents and players.

PICK UPS
Some teams pick up additional players during the season to strengthen their team. They take playing time from players who have played all season. Are you OK with this. If not, be sure to know their philosophy in this area. Do the Pickups have to pay the same fee everyone else paid?

VIRGINIA AAU WEBSITE
Click below for links to all Boys and Girls AAU teams in Central and Southern Virginia.