What is AAU?
Many of you have probably heard about girls AAU basketball and wondering if it right for your daughter. Now that we are thick in the middle of winter travel basketball season, this is the busy time of the year when many AAU programs will be having their tryouts for the spring AAU season. There are a few things to know about girls AAU basketball, in no particular order:
1) The key is to find a team that matches your daughter's ability and schedule. There are very serious AAU teams, and ones not so serious. There are those that practice twice a week and will be in tournaments over almost every weekend from late March until June, and those that might only practice once a week, if that, and only enter 4 or 5 weekend tournaments during the spring season. It's really all about how committed your family/your daughter wants to be to spring basketball.
2) If curious or interested, you should go to a few tryouts in the next month or so, to get a feel for the talent level, the coaching styles, the overall programs, etc. It would be a good experience for your daughter, if nothing else. Maybe talk to the coaches and other parents a little to learn more. Things like how often they will practice, where they will practice, how many tournaments they plan on entering, etc., will all be important factors in a decision on which AAU team to join for your daughter. Attending a few different tryouts is how many of the girls stumble across the teams they end up playing on... just going to a few tryouts and talking with other parents and coaches.
3) There are AAU teams that are part of a regular, reputable, been-around-for-awhile organization, then there are other AAU teams that are much more provincial, maybe one team started up by a parent or coach who is not connected to any particular AAU organization. (For example, anyone could start up an AAU team if they really wanted to). Some of the organizations around here are the Bay State Magic Elite, Cape Cod Waves, Mass Ducks, Kingston Thunder, NEX Elite, University Stars (Hanover U), Mass Attack, etc., etc. etc. the list goes on and on.
4) You will learn a lot about the entire AAU experience after the first year. If you plan on having more than one daughter participate at some point, having both/all in the same program can be a HUGE logistical benefit, as even though they would be in different grades, they will often enter the same tournaments together which helps avoid having one parent/daughter going to Worcester for one tournament, while the other parent/daughter goes to the Cape, for example.
5) AAU has become so prevalent and so huge in recent years that the entire system is very watered down. You will have very few GOOD teams, and A LOT of MEDIOCRE teams. A theory on all of this (you may agree or disagree and much of this depends upon the talent level or potential of your daughter) is that you may rather have your daughter playing with very good teammates and perhaps have to really work hard to earn as much playing time as possible during games, versus being the best player on a mediocre team and not challenging herself. Practices alone, with better teammates/competition, the chances of getting better improve dramatically. Then again, gaining a lot of game experience as one of the better players on the team is also another way to approach it. It really depends upon what you want for your daughter, and what she needs as a basketball player and a person.
6) Again, in the final analysis, there are a lot of AAU options out there, and I believe the whole key, especially for you and your daughter if this will be your first AAU go around, is to find a team that is as convenient as possible and that practices and enters tournaments at the right fit / frequency for you. (Also, cost wise, the more tournaments a team enters, the more expensive it is generally. Costs for the season can run anywhere from $400 to $1000, depending upon the team, etc., but most teams cost about $500, give or take.)
Check out the links below. Don't panic if you have already missed some of the tryouts ... there will be plenty of teams out there looking to fill spots for the next couple of months or so.