Is AAU Ruining Basketball?


Almost everyone now a days has access to an AAU or Travel basketball team in their area. The main issue becomes time and cost, thousands of dollars to participate and tons of games four to eight or more usually over a three day weekend. The top / elite programs are not technically run through AAU but follow the same model and create their own circuits for team. They are funded by the big three sneaker companies, as grassroots basketball: Nike (EYBL), Adidas (Adidas Uprising), and Under Armor (Under Armour Association / UAA). The best of the best kids are playing on these three circuits. The athletes are recruited to play by the coaches, same of the teams are well funded, run by large donations, and are non for profit organizations. Thanks to those variables the athletes play for free and have access. Also the college coaches can view and watch them play during the “Live Period”, all great about this system.

Is this all about bells and whistles? They play games, I mean lots of games over the summer. The bad is where do they have time to practice and work on their fundamentals? Some kids are not even close to the actual teams they play on and only play in the big games. The teams with big budgets, fly them in for the big tournaments, all expenses paid. Long gone are the days of kids going to summer basketball camps and working on their: skills, athleticism, footwork, ball handling and fundamentals. Their are still a few left: Five Star, Hoop Group, etc. but AAU in the summer runs the basketball community. Those left, usually have big indoor sport facilities and run their own AAU teams through them and have their own AAU tournaments. Playing on these big time teams with the three sneaker companies has it perks: it’s fun, games are usually compettive, the best talent play, you get tons of free sponsor gear, you get to travel all over the county, etc.

In the end it would be probably better off for most of these kids over the summer to attend instructional basketball camps and work on their skills or train individually with a basketball skills or performance coach? The top 5% to 10% are on these elite teams and the rest are left to their own vices. Quote un-quote, street ball is taking over the summer game, the best athletes in general prosper. Size does matter, but does that kid have great footwork and fundamentals? Are they shooting twenty foot three pointers or are they catching the ball and starting from a triple threat position? Their is another argument that the Steph Curry effect is ruining the game and too many kids try to emulate him, not a bad thing but most do not put in the countless hours of work he does to get to his level. On the summer circuits, game have more freedom of movement and are more wide open, run and gun, leading to less set offenses and more fast breaks and one on one play. A lot different from structured high school basketball for the most part. Unless you are the top of the top and summer coaches are calling for you on their teams, I highly recommend training over the hustle bustle of AAU. The top tier is good but still do your in-depth research on the: program, coaches, mission, vision and values of the organization. Make sure their is ample time for: practice, skills work and fundamentals and not just all games.

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