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Off-Season Teams

A large percentage of basketball players will participate in a local or travel team in order to continue developing their skills and get some playing time in.

AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) is the biggest organization, and they have almost 700,000 members across 41 sports. This is a volunteer-based group and there are usually several groups within your local area. ( There is a locator on the site, which can get you in contact with the local clubs, as well as contact information for the district director, which is a great way to get information.

Talk to other parents, as well as the school coach or athletic director for contact information on local teams and summer leagues. Your local gym may also be able to assist with locating clubs in your area. Many clubs do not yet have a website, or are word of mouth, so make sure to reach out to anyone active in basketball for additional info.

Here are some considerations when selecting a team:

1) How much do I wish to invest in travel for AAU team games? Many teams travel long distances to tournaments, so you have to consider gas, hotels for 2-3 days, airfare if the competition is really far away, and food. Yes, you can economize somewhat on all of these items, but keep in mind that you will realistically spend about $3500-4500 during one season. Some coaches really try to help with costs by having kids come on their own, and bunking together, but as a parent, if you want to see your child play, be prepared to pay. The upside is that you can see some really great players, combine the travel with a family vacation, and really bond with the other team families.

2) Some AAU teams tend to stay in your local area, with occasional tournaments in the region. Ask the coach before you sign up where the games will be played. Honestly, we have played with both types of teams, and there are pros and cons for both, so choose the one that fits your family and your player best.

3) Another option is your local county sports league, or neighborhood league. Often, these groups have just as good a level of play as the more expensive teams, and this is a great way for a beginning hooper to to learn skills and how to work with a team. Your hooper will also become familiar with kids who most likely will be on their high school team in the future, since they are local.

No matter which type of team you choose, ep in mind that you must commit to getting your player to practices, even if inconvenient, as well as to the games, or the absence will affect the team as a whole. When you pay your fee to join the team, the cool uniforms and shoes are great, but you are committing to participate and support the team, not just your individual child.

Bottom line, there are many ways to get your player noticed by colleges, and off-season leagues are just one option - there is NO one right way to choose, as sometimes the larger tournaments miss seeing your child, and the coaches come to see only 10-20 top players. And sometimes the smaller venues are not noticed.

More on ways to get your child noticed in future posts - you can try all, or as few as you like. Again, there is no set recipe for making this happen.

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