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PostPosted: 14 Apr 2010, 07:40 

Posts: 59
I have a 9 yr old son who loves basketball and is a decent little player or at least I think. I have had a few coaches ask that he come play AAU basketball with them. Some of them are a yr older kids than him and the other is his age group. I am unsure about this , they all say he is ready for it and the next step. One of the coaches actually just stepped down as our high school girls coach after taking them to a 4 ranked team in our state. He says my son is ready for AAU. What is your thought of AAU and this age. I don\'t want to burn him out and I also don\'t want to hold him back either. I think the competition would be better and surrounding him with equal or better players would maybe help him learn how actual team basketball is played as he does tend to have to do it all on his current team which is alot to ask of any player. Again what are your thoughts and any advice is appreciated.

PostPosted: 14 Apr 2010, 07:53 
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My first consideration would be this............... does this coach teach the fundamentals or is he someone that is more interested in winning? Do your homework here..... your son is in the developmental stages right now... hes young and has a lot to learn regardless of his abilities right now.

So, IF you decide that this is the RIGHT team for your son.... then ask him IF he wants to play. Some AAU teams play a lot of games vs practice time ratio. Games are fine.... but practice is where they learn HOW to play. There is an old saying.... Players are made during the summers, Teams are made in season.

I would be interested in knowing what you find out about this team and which way you are going. There has to be a good balance between playing basketball and just plain being a kid and having some fun. Good luck and let us know how this is going - and if you need any other advice / help, just let us know.

PostPosted: 14 Apr 2010, 08:23 
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Posts: 191
Location: New Britain, CT.
I agree with Coach Sar. Do your homework and research this AAU club. Visit their website and read their mission statement (they should have one!!). Call the president of the club and talk to the coaches. Ask questions about player development, practices, games, their goals and their coaching philosophy.

In my experience, I'm currently coaching my third year of girl's AAU, (U-13). Nine years old seems young to start AAU. You do risk burn-out starting at that age. Kids need to be kids and most need a break from basketball, or any sport.
AAU can be very physical, intense and competitive. It is a big committment for a family, both time and money. My daughter started playing AAU when she was 11. That seemed like a good age to test the AAU waters. She absolutley loves AAU ball, much more than travel and middle school ball. She has made a lot of friends with her current AAU team.
If your son has other interests i.e. musical instruments, soccer, baseball, boy scouts, etc then let him pursue those along with winter basketball. But if basketball is his true passion, then I don't see why you can't look into him playing AAU.

Good Luck

Coach A

PostPosted: 14 Apr 2010, 09:13 
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Posts: 337
Location: Winter Garden, FL (Orlando suburb)
Coach Sars & Coach A offer some great advice.

If this were my son, I would pass. I believe at this age, it's important to keep your child involved in different sports season to season. Concentrating on one sport at an early age can lead to mental burnout & even possibly injury. Also, it's beneficial to have your child participate in sports like soccer, gymnastics, martial arts, baseball, flag football, and other sports he may enjoy. This will help him develop as an OVERALL athlete. It can also help develop the mental part of the game by being placed in different sports and different situations. Not to mention, if he decided to play bball more seriously at an older age, this would help because your child has a better foundation than a lot children who specialize too early because he is a better athlete.

I knew a team that played summer AAU ball from 3rd grade thru 8th grade. They were a GREAT youth team, and they wanted to play at the time. Well, you didn't see the burnout effects until they reached high school when it was too late. That would be my concern is that your son is enjoying everything, but one day gets burned out when he is older. 80% of kids quit sports before age 13! Did you know Steve Nash didn't start playing until he was 11 or 12?

If it were me and my son really wanted to play, I might start doing Summer AAU ball around 8th or 9th grade.

You might be safe starting earlier, but I’ve seen kids who start too early and I’d rather start late. I see that Coach A started earlier, but I wouldn’t be too concerned with burnout if Coach A was coaching my child.

For now, go in the driveway and have some fun! Let him develop the passion.

Here are some other helpful articles:

Joe Haefner

PostPosted: 14 Apr 2010, 10:11 
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Posts: 3139
GREAT advice Joe!! Let the boy be a boy..... let him have FUN!

PostPosted: 14 Apr 2010, 14:58 

Posts: 19
Don't know if there is much more room for advice here but let me try and help. This is a tough decision to make because as you state its either like you hold him back or you could lead him into a burnout stage.

Being 9yrs old is different then it used to be, at least for me it seems that way. I played baseball until I was 12 and played every other sport with the neighborhood kids until high school. This variety allowed me to find what I truly was passionate about, which was basketball.

I got to experience other sports, other competitive environments which I believe gave me great experience and confidence for basketball. Also allowed me to learn different foot work and movements that can be utilized on the hardwood.

I fully committed to 1 sport (basketball) when I hit 8th grade, I knew if I wanted a scholarship that I had to dedicate myself to it year round at that age. I only played AAU when I hit 11 grade because I focused on my skill development until I was ready to compete at a high level on the scouting circuit.

So if you take anything from my experience its the fact that I came back to basketball because I chose to and did it full throttle. If your boy doesn't play AAU, its okay because he can do his skill development work in the morning if he wants to on the driveway and go play with his buddies all day in the summer.

Passing on this experience wouldn't be the end of the world and I don't see it as holding him back as patience can serve you big time here.


PostPosted: 14 Apr 2010, 15:04 
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Like you said.... he's only 9, let him enjoy being a kid... he has plenty of time to decide how serious he wants to get at this..... We LOVE the game... he's 9, he likes to PLAY..... and have FUN... bottom line... have FUN.

Unless he is the next Michael Jordon.... let him enjoy his summers for the next few years.... maybe you can find a camp specifically for his age group..... one that teaches fundamentals and plays a few games.

Maybe the local high school or College?

PostPosted: 14 Apr 2010, 20:50 

Posts: 59
thanks guys for the advice and thoughts. a lot of what you guys are saying is what i was thinking i DO NOT want to burn him out or pressure him. i just want to make the best choices for him at this age with a little exprt advice . with that being said i guess i should have been a little more detailed in my explantions and topic. i do encourage him to play other sports, i begged him to try baseball this year but all i got from him was i just want to practice basketball this summer and football. he does love football and plays it every fall and we either shoot hoops at home or pass football almost everyday which ever he asks to do. i let him ask to do it i dont make him and sometimes he will want to ride his 4 wheeler or pass baseball but just wont play it but thats ok. and by him not playing baseball i think it gives him a break from sports and allows him to be that backyard kid and do stuff at his pace because by time football season and bball gets here its all he talks about and wants . now as far as this aau team it is my understanding they didnt want to play year round as both coaches has kids this same age and would be on team and also play other sports but that they wanted to take the 8 or 9 best players out of our county and put this team together and go play in a few tournaments that may be fairly close to get there feet wet for possibly a future team and let these same kids play together in a winter league this winter instead of our local rec league .after i found this website and thoght i would ask your thoughts. i hope this helps clear anything up as i would never at this age go full swing in any sport year round .

PostPosted: 15 Apr 2010, 14:16 
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Sounds like he has his head on straight right now.

Find our how many tourneys and games he is talking about..... find out how many practices he is going to have with them... he still needs to develop the fundamentals of the game - same for the winter league.

If he was my son I would his coaches to teach fundamentals first and foremost... and not wolrry too much about winning... its more about learning and having FUN.

Good luck, I hope this works out for you and your son.

PostPosted: 06 May 2010, 09:38 

Posts: 41

Sounds like you are asking all the right questions and getting lots of good feedback. It also looks like your prospective coach is slowly easing his way into the AAU scene, which can be very intense and a little overwhelming for coaches, players and parents alike. So being deliberate and gradual is definitely the right way to go and the approach I've taken with my team (also 9U boys).

Only other issue I would recommend teasing out is the playing time v. winning issue. Even at this age, coaches overly focused on winning (and plenty of them are) inevitably play their best players most of the time. This turned out to be the case with my son's old team. I don't know where your son fits ability-wise with the other players being considered but I would press the coach on the playing time issue to get his philosophy spelled out before you make a comittment. I have a "rough parity" policy where everyone plays at least half the game and by keeping the roster size small (8 players) I have yet to run into playing time issues.

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