AAU Boys Basketball Development – Blueprint 1.0

Created By: Brian

AAU Boys Basketball Development – Blueprint 1.0

We use “AAU Boys Basketball” as a term for club or travel basketball as to avoid confusion. This is still the most agreed upon phrase.  The system you use for your club could make or break a player's future and career.  Read this article to see if you can improve it.  In over my 10-year career, I have spent time wearing almost every hat in the basketball game. I have tried to stay at each spot until I reached what I consider fluency in the subject.  Whether it be a High School head coach, 6th grade AAU Boys Basketball club coach, College Coach at the JC level, to program head, high level AAU boys high school head, tournament director, camp director, you just about name it.

Who Is This For?

Thisblog is for a coach/program head/parent/player that is in 6th-8th grade. This, in my humble opinion of all the developmental windows…is the most important. This is a sacred development window for basketball – (Ages 12-14).  Also, I have not coached an AAU Girls Basketball team.  Most of my experience up until this point is in AAU Boys Basketball.  So, I will not focus on that, but I could guess that it does apply.

Keep this seed in your head…if your skillset is not ready by the end of your 8th-grade year (August) then you will be past repair. There will be exceptions and you can plan your life to be that one if you want, but I do not create systems around exceptions, just fundamental truths. The exceptions can then come a long and abide by the fundamental truths and then, turn themselves into legends if they so desire.

If you are reading this now, the chances you have are not one of the top 50 clubs for your age group in the country.  If you are…great…again, you can take this advice to take you from a 9.3 to a 9.5. It is easy to take a team from 4 to 7 on a scale of 10. At this point, I believe it could be done in my sleep. However, going from a 9.3 to 9.5 is damn near so subtle you might miss it.

2 Mindsets

  1. Locate the #1 team in your city or within 200 miles if you are not in a major city.
  2. Be honest and ask yourself if you played them, how much you would lose by?

Now that you have figured that out, you need to figure out how you will be able to play them and teams at that caliber.  If you are a coach that wants to develop your kids and team to reach their highest potential and see how far they can really take this game, then you must adopt this philosophy. I did this with a team starting from 7th grade and took it all the way through 8th grade and rarely do I ever see someone implementing the strategy with my club Top Gun Basketball Academy we used for literally INSANE results.

The returns just keep coming.  Nor am I ever asked what it was that we did.  So I decided to write it out for you.  Your whole focus is to PLAY THE BEST TEAMS YOU CAN FIND.  We have a great directory for youth basketball tournaments for you to research.  If you are in the 6th grade, play the top 7th-grade team in your area, maybe the 8th-grade team. When you are in the 7th grade, play High Schoolers.

AAU Boys Basketball Development

Long Term Philosophy

Play up, play the best and 10-15% of your year can be playing your own level for their confidence or whatever.  The reason you will not do this is because of fear and massive amounts of pressure you will receive from outside forces. Toughen up and don't cave. You must buy into this philosophy because it will get lonely, but if you are coaching for the right reasons, then you will truly not care because your kids will understand it one day down the road.

The other reason is this…you are going to get embarrassed and ran off the court at first.  You might lose by 50.

The AAU Boys Basketball Development Strategy:

You need to be able to play the best teams in your area, but you need to keep the game reasonable, so they will not see it as a waste of their time and won't shatter your team and make everyone quit. Losing by 10 to the best team in the state is like winning your city championship 10 times over.  Whenever you are at a supreme disadvantage, meaning you are playing a team 30 points to 40 points better than yours, you can't come at that team the way you are used to.  Remember our goal is to be able to just HANG with these teams for a long time.


Club Operator AAU Boys Basketball Membership

  • TIP #1.  SLOW DOWN.  I haven’t seen you play and you play too fast.

Remember you are 30-40 points worse than this great team and you will never beat them at the speed that you are likely to play at.  Some of the best solutions are from using inversion. Problems seem easier when you look backward at them.

For example:

How do I beat an AAU Boys Basketball team that is 30-40 points better than me? (FORWARDS)

How do I guarantee an AAU Boys Basketball 30-40 points blow out for myself? (INVERSION)

I think the answer to this is simple.


The team is going to turn you over in the backcourt and run up 10 uncontested layups before you know it.

  1. Rule #1.  NO TURNOVERS

The good news about this is you don't need to have any natural talent or athleticism to be like this. Your focus should be on passing, catching and securing the ball. Angles, ball fakes and safe passes are your top 3 priorities. Spend one week studying John Chaney of Temple I guarantee you won't tolerate turnovers.  Turnovers in AAU Boys Basketball = Hell.

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      2. Rule #2.:  PROTECT the Paint

No easy layups, force them to shoot (most can not do this anymore). You have to do this by playing man to man. Don't take a shortcut here. IT WILL BE TEMPTING. DO NOT DO IT.  Solve your turnover problem and that will knock this will do a lot of your heavy lifting because you now are making them play at a slower speed, in the half court (most can’t) and making them shoot tough, contested 2 pointers.

      3. Rule #3:   Get BACK ON DEFENSE

I have never seen a youth team work on transition defense.  EVER. We did.  That is about it.  Get 5 guys on the paint and have them on the whistle sprint back to the other paint and then close out on 5 spots.  Buy Mike Dunlap’s Transition Defense dvd.  Don’t give up transition buckets.  Make them play in the half court against 5 of your guys.


Improvements by Rules:

Rule #1.  No Turnovers - Ball Security

This will add 10 points to your +/- score.

Rule #2. Protect Paint

This will add 10 points to your +/- score.

Rule #3. Transition Defense

This will add 10 points to your +/- score.

There are your 30 points.


If I had your team right now and 4 weeks of practice, we would focus on perfecting this and that team that won by 30, I think in a couple of months time, it would be a one possession game at the end.  I have seen it too many times.  Now, why are we focusing so much on this? Again, your goal is to play people BETTER THAT YOU AT ALL TIMES. You are trying to stay in the game by not losing….so then you can eventually win.   I used to always say do you want to WIN or do you want to be around WINNERS.  This is about building winners.  You can have your win today. The biggest thing in this though is that you are in this for a LONG TERM RESULT.

You are going to spend the formative years battling testing your team to be ready for anything, and by spending their time around the best team and players…they will figure it out by osmosis.  You can then go to sleep at night knowing you did everything for the kid by the time they graduate high school, where the foundation will be like a good investment…just sit back and watch.

Is the game missing fundamentals? How do you teach it? Fundamentals are what leads to ball security and no turnovers.  So when you are working on Rule #1 you are working on Fundamentals.  When you are working on rule #2 you are working on Toughness.  When you are working on rule #3 you are working on IQ


FIT – Fundamentals, Toughness, IQ were our 3 buzzwords.

One sentence mission: To keep the game as close as possible by playing the best teams in your area, state or country with the given talent that you have.

If you take on this philosophy with a 6th-grade team at the beginning and finish with the core of that group at 8th grade, I will bet on you almost every time. Unless you are playing against a top 10 team in the country and hell, you might even have a chance there.  By all means, if you are doing this and a kid leaves…I would spend 5 minutes max thinking about it and then never think about it again…it’s their funeral and they don’t deserve this beautiful system.

Most people are not comfortable talking about how to be at a disadvantage.  It’s like they want to blind themselves to it at all costs.  Well whatever, here is your strategy laid out for you because there’s a good chance you will be at a disadvantage for a long time in AAU Boys Basketball I can guarantee you.

See you at the finish line.


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