First thing’s first you should use club basketball as an extension to your season. It is a tool to make you a better basketball player to develop your skills and game repetitions. Exposure is a good reason to choose a particular club, but shouldn’t be the only reason. If you aren’t going to develop playing for a particular team then my advice would be not to play.
Too many players decide to play for clubs for the wrong reasons and end up getting hurt doing so. Just like a selecting a college, you should try to make the right decision the first time. Here are some factors that should weigh on your decision .
Reputation of the club
Today you can get information on anyone these days. I think it is important that you get the reputation of the club from top to bottom. First you have to look at their coaches. What type of experience do they have? How’s their court demeanor, meaning do they coach with flip flops on and an ear piece in their ear? As funny as that sounds at a tournament in California last summer I attended a big club event and noticed at least 15 coaches wearing ear pieces, a few actually talking on the phone while coaching!!
I think you have to take a look at the style they play as well as the personnel of the team. Do you think that you’ll fit in with that bunch and be able to develop along side of them. You should find out what type of schedule do they play. How many games? Do they travel? How much do they practice?
These are all questions that you should actively look at when doing your information gathering on the club team that you want to select.
How important is a team’s schedule?
It’s not as important as you think. Many players/parents thing that you have to play for a club that travels every weekend. I think it is important for your club to play in a good number of events but it shouldn’t make or break your decision when choosing your team. Some teams will travel more than others and that is ok.
It’s more important to find a team that plays a competitive schedule with a decent amount of games outside of your area. It’s important to play different teams so you can get experience playing teams and players that you aren’t familiar with. Sometimes players want to just play for teams that play the best schedule and travels to the best tournaments rather than looking at the club from top to bottom.
Playing Time is crucial to your decision.
Like I stated earlier, your club team should play a significant role in your development during the off season. The only way that club basketball will make you better in the spring/summer/fall is by playing meaningful minutes in your games. So many players make the mistakes of going to big teams with big reputations only never to get off the bench.
This is where playing with a team with a big reputation can be very much overrated. Every summer I watch players sit on benches throughout the whole club season just to say they played for a particular team. They may travel the country, get free sneakers, and see great players but never play any meaningful minutes. The whole purpose in playing club basketball is to get better and by sitting the bench and only getting to participate in practice and play in garbage time won’t make you a better player.
The exception to the rule is if you play on multiple age groups where you play meaningful minutes on the younger team and struggle to find minutes on the older team. This could be a good experience for you to earn minutes and watch from the bench. Not everyone can play the minutes that they want on a team, but with so many choices of clubs these days finding a team that you can crack the rotation in shouldn’t be hard.
What is more important the amount of games a team plays or practice time?
They are both beneficial to your development as a player. You shouldn’t play for a team that just rolls the balls out and never practices. Practice is important as this is the time that your coach can correct you to improve. This is also the time where teams gel together. There is nothing worse than seeing one of those “All Star Teams” that just go form tournament to tournament without practicing.
On the other hand teams shouldn’t just workout and practice and play in 3 tournaments all year. Spending your whole off season just working out isn’t going to help your game. You need to be able to take what you learn from working out and practicing to try it out in a game atmosphere.
Make sure in the Spring that you are practicing at least twice a week. That is a solid number of practices and you can get better while participating in events.
How important is club basketball to your “Exposure”?
Obviously college coaches and scouts flock to club tournaments throughout the off-season. There are so many events to choose from with coaches well represented at most during the live recruiting period and during the dead periods there are no shortage of scouts roaming the country attending club games.
It isn’t paramount that you go to the best tournaments in the country to get recruited from schools. With so much technology where many games and events appear online in some way, shape, or form college coaches and scouts and gather information about a player very simply.
Players and parents are very uneducated about how to use exposure to their advantage. They think exposure is the most important thing surrounding the whole process. They never concern themselves with getting better as a player because playing in front of coaches is a lot more important. The dream is to make a few shots in the live period so little Johnny can get signed by UCLA and live happily ever after.
The reality of the situation is that college coaches are in the talent business. They want to see players that know how to play and can help them win. Just because you play in front of them 100 times doesn’t mean that they will be beaten into submission to offer you a scholarship. Make sure once you commit yourself to getting exposure that you actually have a redeeming skill that a college coach can look at and take stock in you.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of a club coach that tells you that you wont get exposure playing with any other team but theirs. That is false, you can get exposure from any team that takes the time to attend decent events.
Exposure is an important piece to the puzzle, but it’s not the only piece. Make sure that you are getting better playing for your team and not just focusing on the events that they attend. Getting better is the whole purpose of being there.
Make sure you play for a club that communicates with your high school coach
In many situations the high school coach and the club coach aren’t on the same page. THe club coaches will say that the high school coach is lazy and doesn’t care about the recruitment of the player. The high school coach will turn around and say that the club coach isn’t a real coach and they don’t care about the development of the player.
This can be taxing on a player as it shouldn’t be your issue that they don’t get along and you shouldn’t be caught in the middle. With that being said playing for a coach that makes it a point to communicate to the high school coach on a regular basis. Both coaches should be on the same page when it comes to you development.
You should have loyalty to both your high school and club programs. Both play a role in your development as a player and they should both communicate with one another. Don’t play for a club that has lousy relationships with high school coaches. Make sure you make that known right away that the coach needs to check in with your coach and if there is an issue with that there’s always another team. Don’t let egos get in the way of your development.
You control your recruitment not your club coach
You should give as much control over your recruitment as you want to. If you want your high school coach to handle it let that be known to your club coach right away. If you want your club coach to handle it that’s great. If you want a family member only to handle the situation that is fine also.
You need to communicate with your club coach as far as what the specifics of protocol in regards to your recruitment. Club coaches can be a great asset to you with your recruitment organization as they are regularly approached by coaches and scouts as far as the recruitment of their players. They serve as great buffers in their player’s recruitment. Make sure everything is out in the open as far as how you want that process handled.
Do you need to be a focal point of your club team?
Obviously it helps to be the man. Everyone wants to be that person, but the reality of it is not everyone can experience that. On most teams there are 1 or 2 focal points in the offense. They take the majority of the shots and get most of the plays called to them. Its the job of the rest of the players to fit in and put their team in position to win.
I think it actually helps a player more to be a focal point of their high school team and a marginal option on their club team. This gives them great balance in not only being the top option , but also learning to play without the ball constantly in their hands. College coaches like to recruit not only stat sheet stuffers, but players that can help their team win.
You want the secret to getting recruited? Help your team win all of the time and that will dramatically help your chances. Coaches at all levels want winners on their teams. Not everyone can be the man. One of the biggest issues with players in this country is that the majority have no idea what to do when the ball is NOT in their hands. The quicker you learn how to play off the ball and play hard defensively the easier it will to play at a higher level.
Club basketball is a tremendous tool for a player’s development. With so many people bashing it and saying how it is bad for the game it is so difficult to understand how important it is to a player. I’m a big supporter of club basketball when talking about the clubs that do it the right way. A basketball player’s development comes from a healthy dose of skill development, game play, strength & conditioning, and a good attitude.
It is so important to learn how to use it to your advantage. You need to educate yourself and make the right decision about a club. Choose a club for the right reasons. Choose the club that will develop you the most as a player bottom line.
Don’t select a team for how far they travel, who’s on the team, or what kind of shoes they wear.
All you’ll end up with is a lot of frequent flier miles, great teammates, and a lot of shoe boxes in your closet.