How to Start a Youth AAU Basketball Team

By Jeff Gordon

Coaches form select basketball teams to create competitive opportunities for players outside of their school season. The Amateur Athletic Union is one of the primary governing bodies for select basketball. The AAU sponsors a full schedule of regional boys and girls events for various age groups across the country. Registering a team with the AAU is a simple and straightforward process, but actually building a roster can be more challenging.

Join the AAU

The first step in starting an AAU basketball team is joining the organization as a coach. Your online registration, available at the AAU website, will subject you to background screening. You must also complete an online positive coaching course. Once you are validated by the AAU, you can buy memberships for your team and players and start purchasing licenses to participate in union events. View all the AAU rules, restrictions and guidelines on its website.

Set Your Goals

Before building the team, decide what you want to accomplish. Identify the types of players you want, the quality of team you expect to build, the competition you will face and the sort of schedule you want to play. By defining your ambition level, you can figure out how much you must practice and what your team costs will look like. This is information that players and their families will need to know up front.

Start with a Core Group

To form a select basketball team, you should first identify core players. Building a team from scratch through a tryout process is possible but difficult. Building a team is easier with a good mix of players ready to join your team. This allows you to start with players you already know. Once your key players are in place, attracting other players is easier. A comfortable coaching rotation is typically eight to 10 players, but you can build a bigger roster to protect against players missing events. Be aware that players can't switch AAU teams without gaining an official release from their previous team.

Hold Tryouts

The final step is the tryout process. Unless you start your team with a set roster, you will want to see which other players could fit into your mix. By hosting a series of tryouts, you look at potential new players and see how they interact with your core players. Promote your tryouts in the local media. Run your tryout like a team practice, using the drills to assess skill level, athleticism and work habits. Conclude with a scrimmage that allows prospective players to play with and against your core players.

Adjust on the Fly

With a new team its best to leave at least some schedule flexibility. That allows you to seek easier or more challenging competition, based on how your team is faring in its first season. Select basketball shouldn't be too easy for your team -- but it shouldn't be demoralizing either.

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