How To Run The Best AAU Basketball Tournaments
By: Brian 
May 19, 2017

 How To Run The Best AAU Basketball Tournaments

Part 1 of 5 Series - Marketing Your AAU Basketball Tournaments

 Brief Summary:

  • This article is about how to run the best AAU Basketball Tournaments from A to Z.
  • Get most to understand how much work into BEFORE the tournament.
  • Furthermore: We are going to talk about the art and science of running a youth basketball tournament.

Would you like a free scoresheet for your tournament?  Download this scoresheet:


First of all, the 3 people that this article series is for.

Person A, B & C:

  1. A – Runs AAU Basketball Tournaments already and has goals to grow and improve.
  2. B – You have been thinking about starting your first tournament.
  3. C – Most of all, someone involved in a tournament such as a parent or player that wants to know more about the whole process to gain perspective on what it takes to put on a great tournament.

Second of all we here at will refer to youth grassroots basketball or travel or club tournaments as AAU as it seems like it has been a generally accepted term for the industry.

Either a tournament can be sanctioned by these following organizations or can be completely independent if it chooses to be.

"AAU Basketball Tournaments" can be referred to a tournament that is under some of these following sanctioning

In conclusion, it will not matter if your tournament is either sanctioned or unsanctioned.  Success can be had by the fundamentals applied in this article.



IndiWorld Championships - Youth AAU Basketball Tournaments in a sanctioned circuit. 


IndiHoops has some of these event operators as IndiHoops TOURNAMENT MEMBERS as we serve to assist in all of these areas to tournament operators.

* Bonus: Free Tournament Score Sheet and Waiver Form for you to print or download at your next event.

Sign up for our IndiHoops Event Operator VIP Newsletter: As a result of signing up you will get the bonus.

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Target Market:

To run a tournament, you need clubs and teams to register and play in your event.

So, If you do not get this…there is no reason to read further since there is nothing to talk about as a result of you not getting teams.

What are AAU Basketball Teams looking for in a tournament?

[2 Big Components]

(Will add more things they look for in the next article).

 1. Trusted Brand Names – LONG TERM RELATIONSHIPS

 Examples: Hoop Group, Bigfoot Hoops, Pangos, Hoop Group, Zero Gravity Basketball, Big Shots


This is where the reputation of a tournament operator comes into play. These are the OG's, the veterans. Established tournaments have long alumni lists of teams and great players, pictures and a history of good events.

If you can get a club to have a great experience at your tournament., the likelihood of you running the tournament again in subsequent years is highly likely.

As a result, they will get accustomed to putting that tournament on their schedule again for future years.  These guys have been around for a long time because of the relationships they have built.


 Cons: (While we have given examples, by all means does not necessarily pertain to those organizations).


There are a lot of hungry and savvy AAU Basketball Tournament operators out there now, and they want to compete with the older generation.

Some event operators can be susceptible to take clubs for granted and tend to coast on their reputation and don't use technology and tools to make the experience better.

 They might not be using the best technology on payments and are susceptible to leaving money on the table with bounced checks, have their schedules come out too late, etc.

Consequently, the club also might attribute a bad experience and it seems like sometimes its not within the tournament operators control, however, this can carry some baggage in a club and tournaments relationship. Something to look out for if you fall under this category.





2. Social Media Exposure


 Made Hoops, Open Gym Premier, Top Gun Basketball, Elevate Hoops, IndiWorld Championships 


These are early adopters and typically the younger generation that can attract teams with social media.

They can tend to be younger event operators who are very hungry and have boundless energy that it takes to put on these events.

They can attract teams with crafty social media posts, email marketing techniques and also have great coverage at their events such as actions photos, live streaming by Baller.TV, Krossover video breakdown - blog write-ups, and live social media coverage.

Seems like these operators are great communicators with new school technology and are hungry to win business,

so they will be more receptive to your feedback and your requests.

They have easier ways to be paid, and a club organization in some cases may have a better shot at getting some sort of discount with some of these operators due to this.


Cons(While we have given examples, by all means does not necessarily pertain to those organizations).

 There can be a tendency to go too far with this and have opposite philosophies of the old school director.  Therefore social media can paint a better picture than what is ACTUALLY happening, and some clubs and parents can start to see through or see a gimmick forming.

As a result they can make big claims and promises of what your tournament will be about and who will be there.

The thing you might not have is LONG TERM TRUST, so you better be sensitive to that.

There is another tendency to try to hit "quick home run" as opposed to continual base hits that the long-term operators did to deserve their veteran status.


Finally: Don’t rush the process and make sure you are backing up your claims!


 Advertising Your Events

There are few directories and media outlets that can help promote and advertise your brand. These are great tools that many do not take advantage of.

In all of these companies, there is the opportunity to just advertise your brand throughout the year.

This is a simple yet effective trick to use because most people in this industry take for granted due to the fact that they have been able to get by without spending any money on marketing.

They are using the word of mouth approach which is great.

However, times are changing, and as it becomes more of business so they will have to understand that advertising is typically the LARGEST expense in any good company.

You need to have some sort of advertising budget if you want to be in this for a long-term. If you are just trying to pay your rent by throwing an event, then you can skip this part…LOL.

Here are the prices right now just to promote PER EVENT, not your event company in general so we can keep it simple.

(National AAU Basketball Tournaments Directory)

 Basic Postings

1 Events - $25
2 Events - $50
3 Events - $75 - Most likely, the best package.
4 Events - $100

Final Analsysis: This is certainly worth the experiment. At the very least what you probably don't understand is that key advantage is that you will get a LINK from a reputable company for Google.

Remember, because most people including you probably use Google to find most things, so it's important to RANK in Google.

For their other services, they require you to call them directly.


(National AAU Tournaments Directory)

Tournament Operator Memberships - $4.99/mo. or $47 For Year

  • Allows you to post unlimited events on their directory.
  • Gives Exposure Events (Scheduling Service Discount).
  • Allows you to collect registration for your events.
  • Allows you to customize your marketing for your events.

Final Analysis: Obviously biased here, but this is a no brainer for a tournament operator, but only if you utilize the services and post your events.

You get SEO advantages and if you get just 1 team as a result, you get your money back.

You also get access to a team of people willing to consult and help pump teams to your event.

IndiHoops already has almost 90 members signed up.

Higher level promotions:

IndiHoops Tournament Package Options for Members

Select Package - $247 Per Event (2 Week Promotion)
Preferred Package - $497 Per Event (Month Promotion) - Seems like the best package.
Exclusive Package - $997 Per Event (3 Month Promotion)

 * A main advantages of IndiHoops is their social media and email marketing with these packages.

Exposure Events

(National Directory)

Exposure's main service is their scheduling and while we like to use them - they have some other things most don't know about.

You can register events for free on this site, so they do have some options for featuring your event even more.

Exposure Events is a phenomenal tool for AAU Basketball Tournament Operators

Final Analysis: We can save this for another post as we can compare some of the rather different scheduling services out there, but for now we like Exposure Events due to the fact they have a great system that updates and schedules your events.

(ONE OF THE BIGGEST HASSLES OF RUNNING An AAU BASKETBALL TOURNAMENTS is the scheduling and most likely you can never know the pain until you have ever done it yourself. Exposure Events helps so much with this process.



(Northern California Based)

  1. Standard Posting – Free
  2. Featured Listing – $74 - Seems to be best package.
  3. Maximum Exposure - $129

 Here is their commercial:


Furthermore, The HUB has a great newsletter that they package in with their listing for your AAU Basketball Tournaments and is great for a more regionalized approach to your marketing. Great customer service as well.

In our experience, here is a list of a few reasons why tournament operators do not advertise their events on these avenues.

  • They don’t even know that these options even exist and as a result don't gain the benefits.
  • It is seems like it sometimes is hard to know or track how the ad actually went.
  • Don't see the long-term advantages of investing money in an advertisement so therefore, event operators see it more as an expense that hurts the margin of their tournaments.
  • Not looking at the big picture of their events.

Advertising AAU Basketball Tournaments on Social Media to Get Clubs To Your Event

Either you use social media in the near future or you will get left behind because this is most notably the top form of communication now.


Probably most effective but only if you are providing great content throughout the year and if you are using Twitter just to post your promotions and sell to people and as a result you will get virtually no return on your time investment here.

Another Tip: Get into conversations with top influencers and retweet great content so use Twitter DURING your event as well for scores, highlights, and pictures.


Same thing applies.  Always need to be constantly providing great content.  Instagram does not let you put links your posts and as a result, you have to put your link in the bio to get clicks to your sign-up page.


A hybrid of all social media. Make great content and be friends with club operators on Facebook. Typically, you cannot get much out of your Facebook page yet but they are always changing.


A more difficult strategy as you need to invest a lot energy into making YouTube great. Due to this fact, It is very hard to get subscribers, but you can do some marketing of your events and post YouTube “End Cards” with links or annotations to come to one of your events.


Newer technology that is hard to master. If you can gain a following of club directors, you can establish relationships on snap chat. It is effective you just need to be savvy.

Instagram Live/Podcast/Periscope

Unchartered waters for the most part, so it could be especially relevant if someone wanted to master one of these.  Seems like this is either a huge opportunity or still too new.


Thunderstruck Wins IndiWorld Championship 1 an AAU Basketball Tournament for the Ages!

In conclusion, use this as a resource to make your AAU Basketball Tournaments go better and make sure you are on your marketing game because the world is changing faster than ever.

Please leave a comment below and share this article if you got any value from it.

- B

Most of all, feel free to email me


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