In recent years, basketball has reigned as the #1 team sport in the U.S. According to Sports Business Daily, more than 60 million people over age six play the sport. And 20 million youth between six and 17 play basketball. Due to the sports’ immense popularity, many people are wondering how to start a select basketball team.
Starting a select youth basketball team requires passion and dedication. But the rewards of seeing young players improve skills and build confidence can make it all worthwhile. Follow these 5 steps to get started.
When you first work towards forming a select basketball program, you may have big ideas. You may dream of your teams winning prestigious championships. Or you may want to build a competitive high school basketball program in your area by helping to develop players early.
Those long-range goals may take years to reach. At first, you need to make decisions about team or club structure. If you plan to register with the Amateur Atheltic Union (AAU), you should know you’ll be setting up an AAU club. In the AAU structure, a club can consist of a single team or many teams. Note that there are three levels of AAU club membership that range from $30 to $300.
Also, you should know that there are other select basketball organizations besides AAU. You can look into the National Travel Basketball Association (NTBA) or regional travel leagues in your area.
You need to ask yourself some critical questions as well. Are we focusing on one age group or multiple? Are we offering both boys and girls basketball? What do we hope to achieve in three years, or five, or 10? Will your program be based in one community, or an entire region? These focusing questions and others will help you scope your initial efforts and plan for the future.
Once you have an initial overview of the program you want to start you need to start promoting the new organization. The easiest first step is to name the organization and create a social media page on either Facebook or Instagram. No need to try to do too much at first, just create a social media page for your teams and announce yourself to the world! You can post the initial goals of the organization and potential tryout dates, age groups, etc.
Nowadays you can get access to professional designers easily using services like Upwork or Freelancer. Just create an account and post a simple task for logo or branding creation, and you’ll get applications from designers to work on your logo for you. You can probably get a nice logo created for around $50.
When you’ve named or organization and created a logo, setting up a website for your basketball program can also be a simple process and will be a credibility builder for your new organization. A website can serve as the central location to post information like rosters or coaching profiles, register players for tryouts and collect club fees, and post tournament schedules. Depending on the software provider you choose for your program, you can also run online registration and communicate with parents through your website.
Need tips to help your program register more players this season? Checkout our post on why more players aren't registering for your sports program!
Setting up a website can be a quick way to promote and manage your basketball program
You’ll also want to be sure to register as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Setting up a tax exempt organization will help keep all of your ducks in a row as your basketball program grows in the coming years.
After you’ve established your initial focus, you are ready to form your first team. You’ll need to secure a coaching staff first. Some of the most successful select teams have highly-qualified coaches. Parents with high school or college playing experience or current high school players may make good coaches. If you can find like-minded parents that have experience playing or coaching, you might be able to build a coaching staff for your team quickly.
Once your coaching staff is in place, it’s time to select players. You’ll want to hold open tryouts to find the right mix of players and aim to recruit a few standouts.
Getting your roster set is a huge step. Tell everyone to register for an AAU membership if you plan to participate in AAU basketball tournaments. Make sure your team is signed up with NTBA if you want to take part in that league’s events.
Now you are ready to start holding practices. The advantage of having a select team is that you can choose practice times that work for everyone involved.
Keep in mind that select basketball is a big commitment. And that youth athletes need time for rest between practices and games to avoid the risk of overuse injuries and burnout. According to NBA youth basketball guidelines, players age 11 and under should have at least two rest days per week, with athletes age 12 to 18 needing at least one rest day. The NBA also recommends the following maximum weekly limits for young players:
Make sure not to overwork your players. Practice time should be limited to a couple of days per week, especially if they haven’t entered high school yet
In choosing a practice location, put safety considerations first. The AAU facility checklist offers excellent tips, such as:
Often, secondary schools or recreation centers are good facility options. You’ll need to consider available space, times, and costs in selecting your practice venue.
After you’ve established your team and practice schedule, you can start researching events. On the AAU website or Exposure Events, you can search by age, state, event type, and more. Youth basketball tournaments take place across the United States, nearly every weekend of the year. However, you’re likely to want to stay closer to home during your first seasons of select basketball.
Keep in mind that tournament registration fees can add up quickly. And travel costs can add up for families too. According to cost data from USA Today High School Sports, playing on a very active team that travels most weekends can cost families up to $5,000 for two seasons of play. If your team can secure sponsorships, you may be lucky enough to lower those costs down to as little as $500 annually.
For many talented athletes, a select program is a better fit than rec basketball. If your community doesn’t yet have a select team, why not consider starting one? Elite teams help top players improve basketball skill levels and develop their talents.
Select basketball is a big commitment for parents, players, and coaches. But select teams offer young athletes a chance to compete at elite levels. And some tournaments offer exposure to college basketball recruiters. You can play a significant role in helping a gifted player maximize his or her potential by starting a select basketball team.
At Jersey Watch we help basketball programs build a website, schedule events, register players, and collect payments.
Want to get started managing your basketball program online? Learn more or create an account at www.jerseywatch.com/sports/basketball/