Let’s Talk AAU Basketball

Let’s Talk AAU Basketball


Aaron Redpath

What is AAU Basketball?

  • AAU Basketball is a game showcase platform that players can use to gain exposure from university or college coaches. 
  • There are a number of teams that play on an AAU circuit and there are numerous AAU tournaments (some are money-grabs that promise exposure but don’t provide any and others are legitimate). 

Where does AAU Basketball take place?

  • Majority of AAU tournaments and circuits are down south (USA) and take place in a variety of different states. Every state will have AAU tournaments, some being much more well known than others.  

When should someone play AAU Basketball coming from Canada? 

  • Scenario 1:(Grades 6-9) You have the best team in the province for your age group and no other teams can come close to providing the same competition level that teams from the USA can offer. 
  • Scenario 2:(Grades 10-12) When a team has a roster of players aspiring to get scholarships and gain exposure so they need to play against high level competition to showcase their skills and ability to compete with top notch teams and players.

If you are not part of scenario 1 or 2 then AAU is NOT for you! 

But WHY? 

 Traveling down to the states requires time and money that can be better allocated to developing skills locally. Get a trainer, get in a skill development program or just get in the gym (work, work, work).

Some parents and players make the sacrifice to travel over the course of the summer to play on an AAU circuit to sit on the bench and actually get worse. Time spent traveling and sitting on the bench is time taken away from potential development. 

BURNOUT. If young athletes that aren’t ready for the higher caliber competition are exposed to it too early it can be detrimental to their confidence and self esteem. It will end up discouraging them and could result in them quitting the sport. 

There are no shortcuts when it comes to proper growth and development. You can’t skip steps and speed up processes when dealing with youth. They must go through puberty, adolescence and a variety of developmental processes along the way to adulthood. Young athletes need all of the following areas to be developed to give them the best chance of success on the AAU circuit:

  • Skills (Sport Specific and General Athletic)
  • Physical Maturity (Strength, Speed, etc)
  • Mental Maturity (Confidence, Self Esteem, Coping Mechanisms)  


FINAL TAKE: AAU basketball has its time and place but make sure that the young athlete you care for is not thrown into the fire prematurely. Be patient and spend time on proper growth and development so that when they are playing AAU basketball they are ready for it. 

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