Many people have asked me over the years how to spot a bad AAU program. It is an epidemic nowadays. The youth sports industry is such a lucrative one. Most of these AAU programs are scams, intended to make the AAU program owner rich! I have given lectures on this topic and written a book about it as well. Here are some signs:
1) If the AAU Program owner is NOT VISIBLE, that is a bad sign! Bad AAU programs have owners that sit behind a desk and rake in the money! They hire others to do their work because they are usually incompetent and under-qualified! If these owners do not coach teams, do not run camps or clinics, or run practices, it is because they can’t! They will make excuses, but the fact is, they can’t! if these owners are not active and visible, they are hiding for a reason!
2) If a program makes OUTRAGEOUS claims, it is a fraud looking to simply sell their program,. STAY AWAY! I know a lot of programs over my 25+ years of experience that will tell brutally outrageous lies in order to make money! I have seen some of the worst people in society be AAU program owners. They will make claims like, “our program has sent 3,000 players to college! (That is a joke!) . “Our program has sent 500 players to play professionally.” “Our program had 112 scholarship college players come through the program last year.” “We have won over 2200 tournament titles.” These types of programs are cancers to youth sports, not just AAU basketball. They are too stupid to realize that no one believes them!! If this were true, they would put pictures of these big time athletes on their website! I had a parent that witnessed an AAU Program owner on the east coast make these types of ridiculous claims! They had a player’s picture on their website. When you googled that player, you saw that he was arrested for a violent assault on a 15 year old in a drug dispute! That is who they promoted! That is the best they can do. STAY AWAY FROM PROGRAMS THAT MAKE FALSE STATEMENTS! LIES! EXAGGERATIONS! If these numbers are accurate, people would know without you having to lie. People know! When you make outrageous claims, you prove your lack of talent as a program and your massive desperation to make money!
3) If an AAU program has coaches that have been fired for cause, you know they are a dangerous program! If these programs hire coaches that were let go from travel teams, JV teams, freshman teams, AS A COACH, then they do not care about kids, they only care about hiring cheap labor! A program owner should be more concerned with providing excellent coaching than hiring bad coaches that were not capable of holding a youth coaching job. So many coaches coach for the money! They will not put in extra time, do not show up early and leave late, they simply want to be paid. They do not lead by example, they dress inappropriately, they are lazy. A program owner needs to hire coaches that care about kids more than themselves, but bad AAU program directors hire un-licensed coaches to save money!
4) If a program does not have an office or facility, bad news! A lot of programs will LIE about their past successes, yet…THEY HAVE NO HOME FACILITY! If they are so successful, why do they not have a facility? Maybe they used to have a facility but were let go because the facility owner felt they could have a better program come in? Maybe it is because the Program owner only wants to make money!! So they save by renting cheaper facilities so they can put money in their pockets! Always ask questions!! Why? Why do you practice at churches and small high schools? .A lot of AAU programs hide behind a PO Box! They do not have an actual business office. They will work out of home and have family members handle the money. That is a bad sign! They need to have a place where people can interact with program owners and “secretaries” face to face and where people can see what a program is doing! A program needs to be transparent!.
5) If an AAU program owner talks about their wins and losses (if they coached), that is bad because they are trying to justify their ability to coach which means they actually are NOT qualified to coach. Any real coach would never speak of their won/loss record . That is a joke! No real coach keeps track of AAU tournament wins! Programs do this to try and validate themselves. Real coaches let their coaching do the talking! A real coach never speaks of wins and losses, only development! But, as I said, most of the BAD PROGRAMS, do not have owners that coach!
6) If the program has different fees for different players, that means they are cheating the more affluent! If a program does not put the cost of their program on their website, they do that for a reason! They do not want people knowing what they charge for a reason! Because some kids are charged less based on talent which leads to entitlement problems! If a program is not transparent, that is for a reason! If a program asks for cash, they do so for a reason! An AAU program should not request cash, that means they most likely are hiding money from the IRS!! When they say “cash preferred”, most likely they are dishonest! Do they take credit cards? If they only recently started doing this…that is a bad sign!
7) If a program DOUBLE DIPS…THEY ARE SCAM ARTISTS! Many of these deplorable programs will run their own tournaments! Then they will “force” all their teams to participate in these GARBAGE tournaments! What they will do is pay a tournament fee to themselves, and usually at a high cost! They will charge their own teams $500 which all goes into their own pocket. If your AAU program runs tournaments that they make their teams play in, that’s a scam!
8) Most programs only take good to great players because they can not coach! A real coach can take a beginning player and make them good, maybe even great! If a coach can only coach players that are already good, they are not a good coach. A good coach can coach anyone, not only good players! These programs “recruit” players because they HAVE TO! They can not coach any player, so they recruit!
9) An AAU program that uses social media to negatively recruit, to speak of other programs vs their own, that means they having nothing positive to say about their own program! Read between the lines.
10) If a program has pictures on their home page of their own children, STAY AWAY! A lot of AAU owners will runs program so their own child will get a chance to play. If you go to their website and you see that they have pictures of their son or their son’s team plastered everywhere, you need to stay away from that program. That is a sign of who they are.
If 3 or more of these 10 things apply to the AAU program you are considering….RUN AWAY FROM THEM FAST AND FIND A PROGRAM THAT IS OWNED BY AN ACTUAL BASKETBALL PERSON! These are opinions of most of the colleges coaches I deal with. If this article offends you, then you are a BAD AAU PROGRAM! If you agree with this article, then you are in the right!