In the past week I’ve had almost every coach from the top AAU programs, say I have not been fair. They said I am quick to criticize AAU but never do the same to high school coaches. Their complaint? High School coaches running practices 4 or 5 days a week in June, when kids need to get ready for July. So let me address this issue.
” I have 6 girls practicing 4 days a week, how am I suppose to get ready for July, you know that’s wrong” AAU COACH
First I have long said that AAU coaches should not be training or coaching their players during the high school season for ANY REASON. This is the high school coaches time. If a AAU coach wants to train or help a player with an issue, during the season. They should call the High School coach of that player or the player should notify the high school coach. This is respectful to the High School and also doesn’t cause a riff between the player and the coach. AAU coaches must have a hands off approach during the high school season.
Now once the high school season is over the high school coaches job is to make sure his or her kids and team are developing. This could be captain workouts, lifting weights or conditioning on the track. The AAU coach must accept this because these are team building events. As much as AAU coaches would like to think they are on the same level as high school programs in terms of importance…there NOT. High School resembles college way more than AAU does in every way except for competition. Players should be held accountable for attending team functions in and out of season.
But here is where things get funky, starting Sunday high school coaches can start there summer practices. Now these practices are important for many reasons. First it builds team chemistry, next coaches can see what freshman may help this coming year…but make no mistake they already know who those freshman are. These freshman will get to know their future coach and what is his or her’s personal style of coaching will be. Next coaches can work on building their team philosophy for the coming season. These are all important especially in New jersey where the season starts very late. Practice days in the summer can help down the road. Now all these things can be accomplished easily with communication. THE PROBLEM IS IN MOST CASES THERE IS NONE.
When high school coaches start there summer practice in many cases they have not spoken to the kids or their AAU coaches about practice times. They expect the AAU teams who have limited access to gyms to work around them. Now here is where the high school coaches are DEAD WRONG. There is zero reason why high school coaches and AAU coaches can’t discuss what is best for the kids. Now it may not in some cases not be able to be worked out. But in most cases I’m sure things could be made easier for all. The result of all this lack of communication is simple and the kids are the ones on the hot seat…that is unless your kid is a star on the team.
Once the high school coach tells a kid that practice is the same time as AAU… the kids goes into panic mode. They do not want to upset the high school coach out of fear he will take it out on them. The player is worried they will lose playing time for AAU and MOST IMPORTANT HER AAU TEAM WILL NOT BE READY FOR JULY. Thus leading to a poor showing in July. Now if you play for the Philly Belles or a Nike team, you really don’t care what your high school coach says. These players do as they please because they will be playing and staring once the high school season starts, regardless of what the high school coach says about summer practices or not.
Now if you are a freshman you are shaking in your boots, while the coach tries to convince you that AAU is not important at that age. Often freshman stop traing or attending camp. They sit around all day waiting for there high school practice to start. ..BIG MISTAKE. But there are scared and believe camp will leave them tired for practice. I see this sad drill every year. If your a sophomore or Junior hoping to get more playing time, your in with both feet and hoping for the best. These players attend and often do a lot of Policticking, hoping it will pay off down the road. If you are a senior without a scholarship your just plain upset. Because you and your high school both know it could all be riding on how you play in July. But yet the coach is talking about senior leadership and being responsible for the team. Kids are really caught between a rock and a hard place. Yet all these problems could be avoided or made softer with a phone call or two. Just like the AAU coach needs to stay away from players during the high school season. High School coaches need to be flexible about practice in JUNE.
I have always said my biggest problem with the AAU world, is the coaches trying to control kids. I believe high school coaches want to have some control; rightful so of there kids in the summer. Many of these problems are caused by the NCAA insanely, ridiculous small recruiting window. If the window was bigger we wouldn’t have these problems. Instead we have a lot of stressed out kids and upset AAU coaches
Now I had a sophomore D1 PLAYER ask me what should she do, because she is afraid to miss high school practice and said her AAU coach is clear if you miss practice, it will affect your time…this is sad and wrong…AAU AND HIGH SCHOOL coaches..PLAYERS should want to come to your practices with smiles on their faces not STRESS OR FEELING PRESSURED or TORN BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE…The only way to avoid this is to communicate with each other…