Tips for AAU/Travel Team Basketball

First let me say that every team that participates in summer basketball is a NOT an AAU team. There are several organizations that host basketball tournaments that are not part of the AAU brand.  AAU is a non-profit organization that you must be a member of and host several AAU certified events. Don't get me wrong there are some really good organizations out there besides AAU that your team can compete in. Locally here in Arkansas we have Get Smart Sports, HoopPlay USA, and Arkansas Hardwood Basketball Tournaments to name a few.

This blog isn't about playing in tournaments with a particular organization. This blog is about the process of selecting a team to play for. Every team is going to be different. Some will be more organized than others. Some may have more funds than others and then some may have better coaching than others.  I have some tips to share that are going to help you select a team to play for. From April to September I think is an important part of the year for a basketball player. That's the time to get in the gym and get better. Don't waste your time playing around all summer and not improving on the skills needed to get to the next level. Here are my tips you should consider before committing to a team.

  1. Meet the Coach - Parents should come prepared with a list of questions to ask the coach. You should find out how long the coach has been coaching with the team. What type of background the coach has and what's the coach's philosophy on basketball. You should also meet all the decision makers within the organization. If the coach is the one calling all the shots you should ask about funds, fees, and all things that deal with money. This way there will be no surprises down the road. Basically you should prepare questions that you think are important. Be warned I would stay away from questions like "How much playing time should my kid expect?" and "Can you get my kid a scholarship?".

  2. Watch a Practice or Workout - Without getting into teaching of the game, a parent should take note of if practice starts and ends on time. They should also pay attention to how the coach or coaches interact with the players. Also, look for how much discipline goes on in practice. This can give you a good idea of the type of coach your son or daughter will be playing for. You also can get an idea of the kids that are on the team. Are they well mannered? Are there behavior issues? Realize these are the kids that your son/daughter will be spending a lot of time with over the next 4-5 months. The last thing you want is your kid being influenced in the wrong way.

  3. Ask How Many Games Will They Play During the Summer - This is important. You want to know how many tournaments they will be playing in over the course of the summer. Are they playing every weekend? Is there a lot travel involved? These questions are important so as a family you can schedule vacations and other family events around your kid's basketball time. It will be great if the team already has a schedule made out, even if it's tentative. This will give you an idea of how much time during the spring/summer will be devoted to basketball.

  4. Talk with Other Parents - Talk with parents of the kids that play for the team now and with former player's parents. This way you can plenty of opinions, both good and bad, and form your on conclusion. Ask how did the coach treat the players? Was he punctual? Did the coach or coaches carry themselves in a professional manner? Parents of former players will also tell you if their son or daughter enjoyed playing with the team.

  5. Talk with Former Players - When you talk with a former player they will tell you the truth about the coach. Former players will let you know what type of influence the coach had. Former players will tell you what they liked and disliked about the coach. Know that no matter how good of a coach he or she may be there will be someone who wasn't too fund of the coach.

After you gather all your information then you should be able to get a good idea on whether or not a particular team is a good fit for your son or daughter. You really have to decide what you want for your kid. Do you want them to play for a competitive team where they may or may not get playing time? Or are you more concerned more about playing for a coach or organization that will develop their skills?

If you you have any questions or comments about this blog please make them below in the comment section. Or feel free to send an email to