Playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball is a great way for athletes to stay in shape during the offseason, honing their basketball skills and staying on top of their game. However, it is important to understand what playing AAU entails, as well as the pluses and minuses that come with it.
AAU leagues are typically active between the months of March and June, as this is typically the offseason for other leagues. The leagues offer extra practices, games and tournaments to players, giving them a chance to play with other talented athletes from different teams. AAU can cost between $500 to $1,000 per year, not including travel expenses such as gas, meals and hotels. Teams generally practice at least a couple of times a week, and have between two and three weekend tournaments a month.
Some pros of AAU include being able to play with the best of the best, thus increasing growth, staying in shape through the difficult practices and games and having college recruiters coming to games to scout potential scholarship candidates.
Some cons of AAU include forcing children to specialize in one sport at an early age, the possibility that the players might not be getting their money’s worth thanks to the competitive nature of the leagues and high cost of participation, the chance that the team that works the best for the child might not be interested in them and the fact that focusing on games doesn’t leave much time to keep fundamental skills sharp by private practice.
Overall, AAU is a fine way for young athletes to remain focused on basketball the whole year, assuming that their families have the extra time and money to dedicate to such a monumental undertaking. While the pros that go with being a part of AAU are undeniable, the chance that players might get burnt out from playing too much of one sport may be enough to scare some away. AAU is most certainly a luxury, and while it can be quite helpful for aspiring players, it is not a total necessity for those hoping to play beyond the high school level. Ultimately, the choice of whether to participate or not should be made by both parents and children, in order to ensure that nobody is being pressured into something for which they are unprepared.
The STACK AAU Basketball Program located in Mahwah, New Jersey is one of the best programs in the United States because they offer great coaching and more opportunity than any other program.