Parents and Players,
Please evaluate your “AAU” program. You are spending considerable money paying for practices, tournaments, uniforms, shoes, book bags, hotel rooms, food, warm-ups, and other frivolous items. You’re spending considerable time running to practices, tournaments, fundraisers and who knows what else. All because everyone has told you that you have to play AAU.

Let me put this out there. If you want to play in college and get recruited, playing AAU is better than playing in high school. Coaches are busy during your high school season. Not saying you shouldn’t play in high school. In the spring and summer, their number one focus is recruiting. AAU is the time where they can really get out and watch you play.

Here’s the problem with AAU.

There are so many players playing AAU that aren’t ready to get recruited. They aren’t even close. It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t play. It’s a good opportunity to play and improve. Here’s the real issue. You guys don’t really know how to evaluate the AAU programs and figure out if they are a good fit for you.

From what we can tell these AAU programs aren’t helping players get better. It’s certainly true that in some ways players get better, just because they have a ball in their hands. They learn just because they are playing. Are they learning good habits? Or trying to figure out how to make their bad habits work? If I’m going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on an AAU program for my child, here are some things that I better see happening that don’t cost a lot of money.

1. Film of every AAU game and practice

Reason #1 You can learn from it.

In a team practice or a game, there’s no way that each person is getting the individual attention that they need to get better. It’s a team sport for a reason. I’m not implying it should be all about one individual. But if you’re not going back and watching practices or games, how can you evaluate yourself? I hear players talk all the time about how hard they work in practice and how they are better than the player who is playing more than them. Maybe you are and maybe you aren’t. What does the film say? If there’s no film, then we’ll never know, will we?

Reason #2 It’s proof to show to coaches.

If you think you’re good enough to get recruited, now you have proof and you can send it to coaches. Whether it’s a highlight or a full game, if there’s not a camera recording what you’re doing, you have nothing to help you get recruited. There are hundreds of tournaments. Coaches can’t come to all of them. If you’ve got film, you can show them that you can play without them having to come to see you.

2. True teaching of the game in practices

When I can tell you what your team’s practice plan is without watching your team practice, and it’s the same practice plan as a completely different team, there’s a problem. Oh, and by the way, I knew it was the second team’s practice plan before I saw them too.

Is every team the same? Are all the players the same? Maybe they are. But I know a lot of coaches would talk about how different their kids are from everybody else and hype them up and talk about how they are just under the radar and how it’s political that these guys don’t get recruited. Or they would blame it on the fact that their high school coach isn’t any good or they don’t work on their own.

Let’s be real. They aren’t that good and the problem is that the team is not really helping them get better. Not really. Because if they were, the practice plan would be a reflection of what the individuals and the team needed to get better at. Not the same practice plan as everyone else.


Besides the fact that all these practices look the same, players aren’t getting taught ANYTHING. If your team is playing almost every weekend as most of these teams do, they PLAY enough. They don’t need to “PLAY” or “SCRIMMAGE” more. They need to work. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t compete. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t play 5 on 5 every practice. But in 2 hours, there’s so much that can be taught besides “SCRIMMAGE”. There’s so much a coach can teach and hold players accountable for that will help each person individually and the team as a whole.

Oh, but that requires WORK. It requires the ability to evaluate individuals and know their strengths and weaknesses. It requires the ability to come up with a plan that addresses those things. It requires the ability to TEACH those things. It requires the ability to have a relationship with the players so that they can be held accountable for those things.


“I don’t get paid to do this.” Lame excuse. I didn’t get paid for years. If coaches are choosing to do it, then they need to do it. Job, family, this, that. Heard it all. Lived it all. Make different decisions. What’s important? That title comes with responsibility. It’s too easy to have the title without actually earning it. From what I can tell, these coaches are no different than their players that they’re mad at when they won’t work on their own. The players aren’t getting paid. In most cases, they are actually paying. Why would they work? The coaches don’t either? And it’s obvious.

“It’s the way I was coached.” How did that work out? If it did, are the players the same at the same level when coach was at their age? Are they the same as the coach at any age? I’m sure things were different back then. I’m sure it’s the parents’ fault, social media’s fault. Or maybe it’s video games. Who knows. True leaders own it and figure it out.

If it didn’t work before… comment.

“It’s what (COACH’S FAVORITE HALL OF FAME COACH) runs.” This is the best one yet. There’s nothing wrong with any offense, defense, or drill, except when the wrong players are trying to execute it. Oh but wait, that’s goes back to what I said before.

It requires the ability to evaluate individuals and know their strengths and weaknesses. It requires the ability to come up with a plan that addresses those things. It requires the ability to TEACH those things. It requires the ability to have a relationship with your players so that you can hold them accountable for those things.

Exactly what I said just a few paragraphs ago.


Filming things is easy.  You already know if it’s happening or not.  If it’s not, it needs to or you should find a new team.

As a parent, you might not sit and watch practice.  You might not know if the coach is actually teaching anything or not.  You might think they are just because they are intense or whatever.  I bet the players know if they are learning anything or getting better.  They might not be able to put their finger on it or articulate it exactly.  But players know when that ain’t it.  

And if it’s not good, it’s bad.  If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse, because somebody else out there is getting better.

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