Sunday, October 31, 2010

Youth Basketball: AAU A Whole New Level

Do you think that your young athlete is one of the best players in his or her age group? She or he might be, but you need to find the best competition to really know. 

We experienced a dose of reality yesterday. 

My daughter, CC, had her first AAU basketball game. CC's new team was invited to play in a pre-season game against another local AAU team. Although, CC's team has not yet started practice, the coach thought it would be a good idea to get a sneak-peek at the kind of team she has this year. Last year, the team dominated the 3rd grade level, so they decided to play up in the 5th grade division this year. In 3rd grade, my daughter was leading her recreational basketball team to the town championship. That was last March and that seems so long ago.

My daughter was nervous in the morning. She did not really want to go. This is not unusual for her as she enters a new situation with teammates she does not yet know, but we knew once she stepped on the court she would be fine. 

We got to the facility early because my daughter wanted to watch the B team play. We agreed because we thought it would help her understand that she is good enough to play AAU ball. 

We watched and noticed that the game was being played at a much higher level than the games my daughter typically plays. The level was higher because all the players on the court could play as opposed to just two or three on any given team. We realized that CC could compete. My daughter relaxed and enjoyed the game.

As we watched the B team game, the A team girls from both teams started showing up. We noticed that they were much taller than the B team. My daughter stands as at 4 foot 7 inches tall (slightly above the 50th percentile for a 10 year old girl). There were 4 girls on the two A teams who were off the charts tall. My daughter plays at the highest level of soccer in the area and while she is not the biggest girl on the field, she is far from the smallest, so this was not expected.

The visual evidence

Normal Sized Competitor

Off the Charts Tall Competitors

My daughter admitted to being a bit intimidated while she sat on the bench and awaited her time to play. I was proud of her. She did not back down even though she was getting knocked around. She did not play with her normal confidence. She was more than willing to immediately give up the ball to a teammate when she got it. On her school team, she typcially controls the ball and shoots or distributes with confidence. 

The Main Point

My daughter wanted to tryout for this top AAU team. She made it. During this first game, she looked over-matched. This can go two ways; 1) She can get better and better by playing with and against the best competition in the area or 2) she can lose her confidence and never want to play again. My wife and I will manage this very carefully.

Game 159

CC's AAU team lost big. 36-6. CC had a rebound and a nice jump shot. She also got knocked around and had two turnovers.


  1. I know the feeling. We have a 9-year old boy, and in Kansas we have MAYB, not AAU. But the circumstances are the same.

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