Friday, July 31, 2015

Pro's and Con's of AAU Basketball - part 2

Pro's and Con's of AAU Basketball - part 2
With opinions on how to make it better 

I was fortunate to Coach AAU for three summers as my son was going through HS.
I felt it was an opportunity to bond with him and share our love and passion for the game, and I could travel with him, as we prepared him for his college transition from high school.

In those three years as a Coach, I observed many things, not enough to stereotype or generalize all people and coaches in AAU. But, I wasn't the typical AAU coach, I was in it for the players. I wasn't in it to get a college job. I wasn't in it to build my resume, I was in it to give back to the game and prepare the players for their futures. I wasn't chasing sponsorship or endorsement deals. I wasn't in it for my ego. I believed in Thurl " Big T" Baileys vision to help local players and their families. It was all about player development.

But some positive of AAU Basketball:
It provided us an opportunity to bond as Father/Son and I was able to share my many years of knowledge and experience with him and his Teammates.
My Team was able to test their level of play and individual skill sets versus players across the nation.
My Team was able to gain valuable exposure from college coaches they would never receive during their high school careers.
My guys were able to travel and see new states and cities, new food, different restaurants, 
Learn about different historical events across the country.
I was able to teach life lessons with my Team, talk about life, I would share my NBA experiences and International experiences with them. They enjoyed asking questions about their favorite NBA player.
I taught them mechanics and techniques at a higher level that they were not exposed to with their high school coaches.
I taught them to have fun playing the game.
I taught them to see the game from another perspective.
I prepared them, as I taught them a WorkEthic, physically. I taught them how to prepare mentally before a game. I would push them, challenge them all in a positive way.
They were allowed an opportunity to play with other top players in the state , together as a Team.
My Team got to know each other and learn about each other and respect each other. Most importantly, they got to learn from each other.
My 15 and 16 yr olds were able to come back with a new confidence and gain valuable experience to help them and their personal high school teams. 
Most importantly , I was able to teach them Fundamentals and go over skill development on a nightly bases, every practices started off with physical strength building exercises and fundamental skill work, ball handling, passing, shooting with a focus on defense and communication.
My players on my Teams got better and gained CONFIDENCE. 

Some of the negative things about AAU Basketball that I experienced or observed:
Players had to miss school and classes to travel
But I counter acted that by having players turn into me a current grade report from teachers and they must make their education a priority. They are STUDENT/Athletes . With an emphasis on Student and priority on Education.
It was expensive, players and parents had to pay large sums of money for travel and hotel stays and for their meals. This was because we didn't chase large endorsements. We tried to teach responsibility. I also wanted players and parents to know that if they played for me, it was an investment in their future and an opportunity to learn and grow as players and people. 
Sportsmanship was not a priority, I observed coaches to allow players to have poor attitudes, I saw players come in late and still be allowed to participate. I saw coaches have no discipline or control.
I saw players being enabled, I saw players yelling at their coaches, I saw parents yelling at their coaches. I observed players fighting with referees, I am talking, physical altercations.
I saw coaches , not lead by example, I saw coaches yelling and screaming at players, I saw these same coaches yelling at referees to the point of more physical altercations. 
I would research teams and see them traveling every weekend. We're the emphasis was on playing games.
I am sorry this is the mistake, because not enough time is on teaching the game. The emphasis was on playing, so players were not taught the proper fundamentals.
I would see coaches who were making this there full time job, recruiting the best players to get endorsements. I understand, but it sends the wrong message. It was more about the free gear they wore and shoes they had. Not about TEACHING.

Now, this is from my perspective, this is through my personal lens of three years of Coaching.

The question is this ? 

How do we fix this ?
It is easy to sling mud, and not offer suggestions on how to fix some of the negatives.

Here are some of my suggestions to fix some concerns with AAU Basketball.
There is an NCAA test coaches must pass, but there needs to be more to be qualified to coach in these AAU competitions.

I feel it would be great for any and all coaches to pass a criminal background check.
I feel any and all coaches should pass a detailed and comprehensive training program to Teach the game and be a Nationally Certified  Basketball Coach.
I feel a cap should be put on the total number of tournaments a Team and or players may participate in, putting an emphasis on tournaments that are open for NCAA evaluation periods. 
I feel any and all coaches, if they choose to be AAU coaches,  must be employed by their local school district as educators, so that they work together with their HS coaches and teachers to put an emphasis on education first. 

I don't have all the answers, but I hope this opens up and starts dialog to make it a positive Teaching experience for the players we coach and the families we serve.

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