With the high school season winding down and club ball ready to start, I have asked some of the parents of college bound kids to provide advice selecting a club team.
The first is from the mother of Tenneesee commit Meighan Simmons:
"AAU, YBOA, Primtime etc..... what is that? All we knew was that our child wanted to play ball; Basketball. Like many other parents we began to ask questions, hopefully the right ones that would lead us to that one special team. What were we really looking for? What should we be looking for? What type of coach do we want, male or female? How many times do they practice? Where do they practice? Oh yeah what about are they a non-profit group, cause this is volunteering and I am not paying no-one to coach my child. The list of questions goes on and on of the does and don'ts. Initially we just wanted a place where our child could just play basketball, and gain a better understanding of the game to prepare for high school.
The circuit of teams and organizations begin showcase such things like; we travel, learn fundamentals, preparing for the next level, and yes college coaches will be there. At 8 years old why do we need all of this. Is there really a difference once they get older? Surely the child has no thought of what to look for or expect. But as parents we think it would do our child some good. Never really counting the cost in the beginning we just take off running.
In retrospect we personally have gained a better understanding of the do's and dont's in this process of looking for what is sometimes noted as "good team", the "right fit".
Here is a reflection of things we gained through our experiences in club basketball
Do- maintain your role as a parents, decision makers when it comes to the overall status of your child
Do-look for good character, integrity, and commitment of the person(s) your child will come to know as "coach".
Do-ask questions, you will never go wrong. Your friend may have said great things about the club, team and even the coach, but what does your gut say?
Do-encourage your child to play if they want to play, not just because the coach needs players.
Do-show up to practice to see whats going on, whats said, and how the coach interacts with the team
Do-TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!! they are usually right.
Do- look for progress of players. Ask them what they like or dislike
Don't let a coach have more control of your child, their talent, and most of all their time. You may not know much about the game, but you must be involved more than just being a fan in the stands.
Don't get lost in the accolades or team wins, or how many kids got scholarships.
Don't just trust your friends words more than your personal judgement. Most of all listen to your child.
Don't put your concerns on the back burner because someone seems to know about what they want to do as coach, when it comes to your child.
Don't let a coach use talent for their gain. Just so they can have the right to say...
Overall with each moment and each team, did your child progress, are they a better player(emphasis mine). If you go in blindly you cheat your child from getting the full experience of what a well balanced team should have. They look to you to know the answer when they have a question about their coach and team. "