Getting Good vs Getting Seen...The Reality Check!
By Tyler Coston
It was a great night for High School basketball. I was in a gym packed with fans, it was a regional playoff game, and the winning team would qualify for the State Tournament. I was proud to watch the game, between the two teams playing I had trained nine of the players in the game. They all played hard, a few played well, and in the end it was a lopsided victory for the more experienced, better coached team that made more shots... After the game the parents of one of the guys I had trained approached me. They were upset, their team had lost, their son hadn’t played much and he hadn’t played particulary well outside of a big dunk towards the end of the game. “Tyler,” they said, “We need to get Jonathan on a good AAU team this summer.” I grunted non-commitally. They went on, “He really wants to play in college and right now he doesn’t have any options. We need to find the right team and the right coach that will get to the right tournaments. Can you help us find the right team?” They are loving, supportive, well intentioned parents. They want the best for their son. I decided to share the truth with love, and here is what I laid out for them… Jonathan didn’t start for a team that lost by a lot in regionals. Jonathan is a 6'5'’ Post player. Jonathan can’t dribble by a defender or shoot well from fifteen feet.Jonathan can’t defend a wing and won’t play Post in College. If a College coach did see him this summer they would dismiss him almost immediately and not think of him again. These are TOUGH things to hear, but they needed to be said. Jonathan needs to get GOOD before he even thinks about getting SEEN. Jonathan needs to spend 2–3 hours a day training his skills. He needs to be able to face the basket and beat a defender 1 on 1. He needs to be able to consistently make threes and elbow jumpers. He needs to be able to defend perimeter players. He needs to be able to pass and make plays at game speed. He DOES NOT need to get seen by college coaches until he gets good. Let’s do some math. If Jonathan gets on a “good” AAU team and travels to a viewing tournament somewhere, between all the travel, games, and useless hours sitting in a hotel or in a van he will probably invest five days in that one tournament. Over those five days he will probably play five games. The average high school player that isn’t the star or point guard has the ball in their hands 1:47 a game. In those five games he will have the ball in his hands against good competition doing something that makes him better a grand total of 10 minutes. 10 minutes! AAU Tournament 5 days = 10 minutes of valuable training time. If Jonathan chose instead to stay home during those five days he could have spent those five days like this: Morning Basketball Training: 40 minutes lifting, 1 hour basketball shooting, 20 minutes ball handling. Afternoon Basketball Training: 1 hour basketball shooting, 20 minutes footwork, 20 minutes ball handling, 20 minutes agility training and 1 hour pick up games. That is 5 hours per day. Getting good in the gym 5 days = 25 hours of valuable training time. If you are good a college coach will find you. Don’t waste time nearly every weekend this summer trying to get seen when you are not yet good enough. Get good first, then get seen. Play pick up with players that are better than you, do things you don’t get to normally do on your team. Stretch yourself to do things others won’t. It is insane to keep doing the same things and expect different results. Now, with all that being said, there is a place for AAU. Being on a team with better players that push you to be better has some value. Just getting on a good AAU team will not get you a scholarship or a jump shot. Just playing against better players will not make you a college basketball player. The only way to get that opportunity is to do the painful, boring work in the dark where no one is watching or motivating you. Only then will you be seen in front of the lights. There are no shortcuts.