Questions From Subscribers...

Topic:  Missing High School Open Gyms For AAU Basketball

Question from Marirutan:
What are the typical 'open gym' rules? If a player does not show up for the first two open gyms even though she played for an AAU team, does the head coach the right to say she will not play varsity in the fall? He did not allow her to start for the first two camp games.

She is a regular starter for jv. She will be a sophmore this year. Last year she did not get to play varisty because she missed conditioning. She earned the right to dress and play a few minutes. I understood this decision, but I lack to understand this most recent decision. Was the coach upset because she missed two open gyms and came down hard on her? Help me. I thought open gym was voluntary on the player's part. She has been attending camp since the beginning. This was an off season open gym. Is there a policy that approves what this coach did? Even the jv coach did not approve of his decsion. I need to know some facts because I am to meet with this coach next week. Thank you

Coaches & Parents, please share your thoughts...

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Answers and Comments

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Jeff Haefner says:
6/18/2009 at 11:14:56 AM

Open gym rules are different for each coach. The coach has a right to do what ever they think is right. A good coach will communicate their expectations ahead of time. But that doesn't always happen. Some coaches won't play kids that miss summer sessions or open gyms. Also, the coaches decision could be based other reasons.

Bottom line, this requires an open line discussion with the coach. Communication is the key. I think it's important for you to first seek to understand, then to be understood. (This is one of the 7 habits of highly successful people. )

This is an important life lesson for your child and it just requires you and the coach to have a professional conversation. Nothing confrontational. Just understand each others situation and everything will be fine. Keep in mind, it's ok to set a good example for your daughter to learn how to handle this situation. But in the future, it might be in her best interests to learn how to do this on her own. It's an important life lesson that can be translated into business, relationships, school, and overall success.


Jeremy Hartman says:
6/18/2009 at 1:48:59 PM

I agree, Jeff. Each coach has his/her own set of rules regarding off-season open gyms. I, for instance, do not REQUIRE my players to be there but I strongly encourage them to attend open gym and conditioning if they are in town. Open gym becomes a time in which I can meet the younger players that are coming up in the program and develop relationships with them. And to second what Jeff mentioned, communication is definitely the key. Communicate your thoughts in a respectful manner and the coach should be able to do the same.

I think with the way today's game is progressing it is becoming harder and harder to have a successful high school open gym. Many players are playing on AAU or club teams and travel trying to get exposure. Some work out with personal trainers or skill trainers. The key is, are the players making themselves better during the off-season or are they just being lazy and not working hard. Myself, personally, as long as I can see noticeable improvement in a player's game then it is not a requirement for them to be at open gym. And if the student population or the number of players that try out for the team is small then a coach could be shooting himself in the foot by holding lack of attendance against players.

Hope that helps.


Brian says:
6/18/2009 at 5:51:21 PM

Wow. I'm not a real big fan of either open gym or AAU basketball. Like everyone else stated it depends on the guidelines the coach has established. This is the summer time and kids go on vacation, they work, they have other stuff that may interest them. I wouldn't hold non-attendance at open gyms against any player. They are like voluntary OTAs show up if you have the time and interest to come in and work. If not stay - away. But at some point their decision to stay away will come back to bite them either thru poor conditioning or the lack of skill development in the off season.


Phillip D Gantt says:
6/18/2009 at 8:15:04 PM

I agree with Jeremy, players are not "required" to attend but "encouraged" to attend open gym sessions. Lack of attendance will show up when the season (hence try-outs) begin and the ones in attendance pass up the ones who missed. It will all come out in the wash.


Larry Edwards says:
6/18/2009 at 10:45:07 PM

I believe as a coach grows older alot of his or her requirements will change. When I first started coaching I was a very demanding coach. Now after 44 years as a coach I have changed alot. Remember this players are just high school players ranging in age 14 - 18. Let them be a teenager, I encourage them to try to better their skills, but I do not demand that they attend every open gym, if they are playing AUU or if they are involved in other sports, good. If they are not involved, then they will be encouraged to come to the gym. You must form a positive relationship with your players.
Sometimes coaches ruin the GAME for the players by trying to controlling their life. Coaches sometimes are their own worst enemies. Try to remember they are high school players, not college or pro's.

I'm sure several coaches will question this attitude, but, we have won two state championships in the last three years.


Carlo Dorigoni says:
6/19/2009 at 1:22:49 AM

What a student athlete does during the off season at the high school level should be their own business. it's illegal in California to dictate what a player does outside the usual basketball season.
Open gym is for players who want to work on their game. Tryouts are for players at beginning of the season for players who would like to play.
Having an AAU or Club team during school basketball season is unethical.


Chris Mullinar says:
6/20/2009 at 7:02:50 AM

I am an assistant coach for an AAU program.

We do not run our AAU season during regular basketball season that the schools have from middle school to senior in high school. When we do start the AAU season some of the players are finishing up school ball, they are not allowed to start practicing or playing with their respective team within the AAU program until school requirements are met for the basketball season.

To state what has already been said though, communication is a key element in keeping players, coaches and parents happy. If everyone is on the same sheet of music there should be no major issues that arise.

An open gym should be just that, not a mandatory thing, if the players are learning in their AAU/YBOA programs or camps they attend then the coach should praise not punish the players drive and incentive to get better. A one or two day open gym session will not make or break a player, the lack of playing will though.


C Squared says:
6/21/2009 at 9:54:55 PM

Ok, I understand where everyone is coming from. BUT, how are high school coaches supposed to develop a program if players can skip out during the offseason without consequences? The offseason IS the most important part of the season. This is the time of year where players have the opportunity to improve individually in a number of areas. Players can weight train, condition, and practice certain aspects of the game that aren't allotted much time during the regular season. I believe that coaches should communicate their expectations clearly to players and parents, but allow some flexibility during the summer because the kids have lives. BUT, as a coach, I have to stand by my beliefs and go with the kids who worked hard during the offseason, with some level of skill and ability. This shows character.


marirutan says:
6/21/2009 at 11:52:29 PM

I have research and found that it was not two open gyms that she missed, but two mandatory practices in the month of May. My problem has been resolved by the by laws of the Ohio High School Athletic Association. A coach is not allowed contact with any player until June 1st thru July 31 and then only ten contacts. the coach was not allowed to have the mandatory practices until after the first of June. During June 1st through July 31 he is allowed ten contacts with his players. It is stated in the by laws of the OHSAA that open gym is not mandatory and if a player misses some of the schedule open gyms the coach can not hold it against the player when basketball season starts.

I find it quite distressing that this coach disregards the OHSAA by laws and creates his own rules in regards to basketball.


Brian says:
6/24/2009 at 1:33:40 PM

For CSquared - My neice played soccer for a major D1 program. When the summer time rolled around the coach gave them all workout manuals with drills and conditioning goals they were supposed to work towards during the summer. They could work out alone, at the school, with a teammate but they had to work. At the end of the summer there was a fitness test. Those that passed were fine, those that didn't work and try to attain the goals suffered through decreased playing time or remedial training. Same with the returning or new players in your program. At the end of the school year have an interest meeting for new and returning players and explain how it the conditioning program works. Those that participate will be ready when the season begins and those that don't put themselves in jeopardy.


hovel says:
6/25/2009 at 9:21:24 AM

I think it is important for coaches to communicate their expectations. Especially what they want the players to be ready for when the season begins. To take away family/friend time just so the coach can see the player isn''''t right. IF the player wants to do well, they know they need to put in the time to improve during the off season. If the coach has open gym to encourage those that need it. Great, but if the player comes in strong for try-outs, they shouldn''''t be docked for missing an open gym.


Gary OBENOUR says:
6/25/2009 at 11:05:19 AM

How many AAU coaches tell their kids about the NCAA rules about when college coaches can watch them play. Are they aware of the short time alloted by the NCAA in July. SO PARENTS SHARE YOUR STUDENT ATHLETE WITH YOUR HIGH SCHOOL COACH. APRIL, MAY AND JUNE GO TO OPEN GYMS AND OTHER TEAM FUNCTIONS.


DuWayne Krause says:
6/25/2009 at 11:10:21 AM

I agree with Coach Edwards, being 56 and having been working with kids a long time. We forget that these are kids we are working with, not professionals. Burn out is real, kids need to be involved in other things also. It has been studied and 70% of kids drop out of sports by age 13. The number one reason they give is that it is not fun anymore. Being fun does not mean it has to be all giggles and laughs, but if it is not fun, why would they play? Being a teacher and coach, I have seen overcontrolling coaches and teachers. The kids get angry and fight back, either dropping out or doing the minimum. I have almost no rules in the classroom or in the gym and kids are knocking themselves out to get in. In the process I have won alot of games and improved alot of academic skills. Now, I have only worked at small schools, but I am guessing it is not that much different in the "big time". I think it really boils down to: Are the kids here for us or are we here for the kids? When we get that answer right we have no problem getting kids to do what needs to be done. They will "run through walls for us".


Ellen says:
6/25/2009 at 12:16:06 PM

Open gym should be an opportunity for players to take advantage of playing/practicing basketball on a volunteer basis. Reprimanding a player for an out of season violation does not seem fair!!


ken fountain says:
6/25/2009 at 12:32:41 PM

i''''m a AAU coach as well and to some it up like chris sd if the aau coach and the coach for the school is on the same page everything will be okay. I also think what the high school coaches are getting at is these kids now days are not staying committed to one aau team they''''re flip flopping and some program do not workout and condition like other and they start to have a poor workout ethic. But we don''''t won''''t to burn out the kids we want it to be fun and also serious at the same time. If we were to say that they don''''t need aau we would be leing because we do need it and the reason alot of the kids playing AAU and SELECT ball is because some of the High School Coaches are not going the extra mile for their kids. That''''s why they strongly depend on there AAU Coach


Bob Carroll says:
6/25/2009 at 6:27:47 PM

Open gym means open gym at my school, the gym is open to anyone because of league rules.In the fall we have alot of basketball players in the gym. Our open gym is from 4:00 PM to 5:30 pm after the season many of our players work but we still have open gym from March to May. A coach can not give any instruction during open gym.We work with the players during our athletic period.

Bob Carroll


tony says:
6/25/2009 at 11:08:05 PM

The coach has the right to do what is in the best interest of their program. Life is full of choices and the coach should go ahead with those who are the most committed to the program regardless of talent level. The worse message that can be sent is to put that player ahead of those who were there.


Tim says:
6/25/2009 at 11:15:42 PM

Why is the assistant coach not loyal to the head coach? Disagree in the locker room not in public.....Maybe the assistant has an agenda.


Coach Davis says:
6/25/2009 at 11:28:54 PM

I am the coach of a boy's 14U YBOA team and I am also an assistant coach for a girls high school team. I do understand all points. You all must remember that 90% of AAU, YBOA, or USSSA sanctions occurr after high school basketball season. There may one or two Christmas tournaments. Open gym is not mandatory. I have a few players on my team that have made the choice to miss my one day a week practice to go to open gym at their high school. It is not acceptable and they pay dearly. One of my starters didn't start. He didn't miss the next practice. The ones that don't start feel that they aren't losing anything. Those players have seen decreased playing time. I have put a lot of time into developing these players and preparing them for high school ball. Believe me, their coaches will not be disappointed. However, the high school coaches should help teach them some responsibility. They should be committed to their AAU team until the season is over.


Mike Lindblom says:
6/26/2009 at 9:29:37 PM

A long time ago in the Seattle Metro League, the state had strict limits on high-school workouts and there was no AAU to speak of, just the all-city summer league. We would drive or bicycle to the rec centers, community-college open gyms, or playgrounds, or the U of Wash and mix with the older guys. There we would see our opponents doing likewise, learn each others' tendencies, and hear about where to find more pickup games.
Detlef Schrempf matured from a scrawny kid to an NBA star this way by chasing the toughest pickup challenges in the city, all summer long, during four years at UW.
Players who like basketball will improve whether the coach tracks them or not.


Theresa says:
11/10/2012 at 6:45:11 AM

One main problem with club teams is that everyone can be on one. It doesn't necessarily mean you are an exceptional player. Also, not everyone who coaches club teams teaches players the right way to play the game.
Look at your athlete and see if she has a true understanding of the game. Are her fundamental skills good? Is she a team player? Is she playing the way her high school coach wants her to play? All these are factors in how much playing time she gets.


Mark says:
5/6/2013 at 11:14:00 AM

Wow! I can''t believe a coach can or should make Open Gym''s mandatory. When it comes down to it... once the season starts it''s about players. If somebody had AAU or a job or homework.. when the season starts all that goes out the window.

Sounds like a coach who may be successful, but a loser non-the-less (IMO)


Michael Allen says:
5/6/2013 at 12:45:34 PM

We strongly suggest that if you are in town, you need to regularly attend Open Gym. We have a wide variety of kids at our school (some specialize in BK, BB, SOC, etc) and therefore are "seasonal players" in other sports. We cannot mandate attendance as we have kids committed to their main sport, they also go on vacations, mission's trips, and/or have jobs, etc. We do not recruit and do not offer financial breaks to athletes so we have to try and develop what we have. It unfortunately gets harder every year.

Now pertaining to AAU, it has become a joke the way this organization and those associated with it are controlling and brain washing our youth and their parents. According to AAU gurus, everyone who plays will get a scholarship and your HS team is not that important unless you play on an Elite HS team. We'll I'm hear to tell you, you can either play or you can't. If you can, the colleges will find you NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE or what HS you attend. Also, you either have a basketball IQ or you don't. If you don't you better get with your HS coach and develop it because the exposure you hope to gain from college coaches will only turn into you being EXPOSED.

I see so many kids who cannot play away from the basketball, have no clue about any other screen but a ball screen, can't shoot proper layups, and don't know the difference between a good shot and a HORRIBLE shot. Oh, and don't get me started about helpside defense and rebounding. They won't get in the gym with their coach but they will pay money to travel every weekend to play in numerous games and think they are getting better. Most kids are not gaining exposure, they are getting exposed.

The bottom line is everyone is fighting for the kids attention and unfortunately the HS coaches (Educators) are not who they are listening to.

The NCAA needs to do away with AAU and give control back to the actual universities and High Schools. It is long overdue and our basketball in America is in dire straights where AAU coaches, agents and middle-men are running the show. This is exactly why I stay completely away from it. If you don't believe me, read the book "Playing Their Hearts Out" by George Dohrmann or look at what most recently happened to the McLemore kid from Kansas.


Raul Fuentes says:
5/6/2013 at 1:08:31 PM

It''s come to my attention that many of the high school coaches don''t have the time to train many kids that play the game. Practice, practice, practice doesn''t always cut it. You have to train to play the game of basketball. I''ve trained my son to play multiple positions and I realized that if my son didn''t play AAU, Camps, personal Training Sessions from (5star, Renegade, Nike, Phenom, PGC along with the several personal trainers he gets invited with) then the Head Coach wouldn''t want him. My personal feeling is if you know your player is getting a better education elsewhere who are they to judge and keep these kids from playing because they don''t attend their workouts. It makes absolutely any sense and let''s be honest a lot of these coaches are PUNKS with egos and get off showing their power over these kids. You got to let some MEN and WOMEN know that if they ever disrespect your child that they are still your child and we are fully capable of taking it to a whole new level. The pen is mighty and when people here the truth it can put many of these coaches jobs at stake. Keep them accountable because some get less in the power instead of the coaching. Also my kids are very limited to what schools they can attend because 7 of the 10 will only allow them to play only 1 sport. Very few will allow them to be a multisport athlete anymore.


Ken Sartini says:
5/6/2013 at 3:27:15 PM

Wow !!

As I read all of these it makes me feel good that I am retired. From over zealous parents to coaches that have unreasonable expectations.

Part of the problem is that every state is different... some will let you work out every day of the year... others, only a certain amount of contact days after the season. Some where along the line there should be a set of rules that EVERYONE has to abide by... problem is.... coaches will find away around it.

There are good and bad AAU programs just like High shcool programs. Most AAU teams are All Star teams... heck, you and I would look good playing for them... OK, just you.

These are kids people, lets treat them that way. Let them have some fun and grow up to be fine young men and women. IF they want to do something extra on their own, then so be it..... but they should be loyal to the HS program first... and IF they talk to the head coach I am sure that they can work something out. We all want the same thing... for them to get better.


Ken Sartini says:
5/6/2013 at 3:30:32 PM

Micheal..... some kids treat Ballside / Helpside like its a dirty word.


Monte Moire says:
7/10/2013 at 5:20:33 PM

Like others have stated, communication is the key. Just before the school year ends, I hand out a schedule of when camps are for the young campers, when we will have skill development and weight training, as well as team shootouts. If a player can't make any of those dates, we talk about it and move on. I don't "sweat" my players if they can't make a shootout or the open gym session because I know that they have a life outside of basketball. When we talk, they let me know what works and doesn't work for them over the summer. I am ok with that. Some of my peer coaches are not cool with that. They make sure all of their players are at everything, which is their right. Their team, their rules. Me on the other hand, I wanna make sure that my players enjoy their high school lives and summer. I don't want them burning out during the season.


really? says:
11/6/2013 at 1:35:28 PM

I am disappointed to see the author's stance on this posting. Rules exist in my state to prevent coaches from penalizing athletes who do not attend open gyms.

Unless the coach is an AAU coach, he most likely will not do much to get the athlete seen by colleges since most teams do not advance to the State level. AAU season and AAU coaches do.

As a coach myself (not AAU) leave the off-season to the athletes to work on their own games and get different coaching perspectives, work with different caliber players and learn new skills.

And please stop giving coaches the free pass to treat players disrespectfully. By empowering coaches to disregard the rules and state "the coach has the right to do whatever they think is right" is an extremely SCARY position.

Just as all players aren't good! I can tell you from my experience, there are just as many coaches that aren't, either. Realize that every situation is unique and insecure coaches with the wrong motivation can truly damage a child. STOP EMPOWERING COACHES TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT!

A good coach will follow the rules. It's the bad ones that have the win at any cost mentality that don't.


Kevin Mitchell says:
11/6/2013 at 8:12:03 PM

The most important thing is communication between the coaches, the players, the parents and supporters. The communication should be all encompassing with information about the basketball season, post season activities, opportunities, guidelines and best practices. Whether it''s during the season or post season, every player has to improve his or her basketball skills for player development. To understand the need, there needs to be an understanding of the environment. The question I challenge all basketball enthusiasts with is "What are you doing to get better?" This question isn''t just limited to the players, it also involves the coaches, the parents, the supporters or anyone involved in the basketball journey. As with anything else, nothing is ever going to be perfect but if all parties involved put themselves in a positive and proactive basketball environment the benefits should be realized. Not all basketball programs or coaches will be exceptional or offer the best experiences whether those opportunities are with high school, AAU, showcase or grassroot tournament... on the other side, there will be some excellent programs with exceptional experiences. I always advise any basketball enthusiasts if they have any questions or apprehensions to look at the culture of the basketball program or team. The interaction from coaches to players, players to coaches, coaches to parents, parents to coaches and everything in between. The bottom line is if the player is not enjoying the experience, the player is not going to enjoy playing basketball and will not give their best effort. Anyone who plays basketball… must play for the love of the sport... anyone who coaches basketball… must love the responsibility of coaching, mentoring and teaching life lessons. The bottom line is scholarship opportunities are presented based on character, academics and the ability to play basketball in a structured system with a team. Talent is great… but if that talent doesn''t lead to improved basketball skill and player development... most basketball opportunities well end after high school. As coaches, we have a responsibility but we must also remember this is just a game and where we came from... children are like clay and must be allowed to experience their childhood. It is great to be fired up about basketball... but not at the expense of a child soul or childhood experiences. If the kid is a "gamer"... he or she will be discovered if placed in the right basketball environments for development and exposure... and opportunities will be presented. It should never be about the ego, control, admiration or the money... otherwise those coaches are in it for the wrong reasons and limiting opportunities for the player''s future.


Jeremy J says:
5/22/2014 at 5:23:29 PM

Open gym and offseason workouts are optional, so is playing time. Don't complain about lack of playing time if you're not putting in the practice time.


Mario morgan says:
7/23/2016 at 10:20:02 PM

Schools about to start for me but I am moving at the end of October and I think tryouts are in November so I want to try out for my school or go to conditioning butt what if I missed the date for tryouts and
conditioning for my new school does that mean I have to wait for next year to come for me to try out


Coach Chaney says:
10/23/2018 at 1:30:43 PM

What if the players who are missing the open gyms are playing fall basketball and working with personal trainers.


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