AAU Season: Understanding Exposure vs. Experience for Canadian students

What is AAU Travel about?

AAU is an acronym that stands for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). Their purpose is to provide student athletes opportunities to play and compete with each other outside their usual clubs, circuits, city and communities. 

Focusing on basketball, the AAU/ Summer travel season are often held between late March to August thus making basketball season year round.

Players and parents seeking to participate in any AAU program or tournament should note these competitions and/or tournaments are not set up for student athletes that are classified as beginners. Many of the athletes have been playing  competitive/Rep sports for a while. 

For most players the purpose of participating in AAU and/ travel team is to help them gain experience and potential exposure while playing with other athletes at a higher and/or elite level that they normally wouldn’t compete against within their communities.

Understanding the difference between Exposure vs. Experience:

Before going for any tryouts or accepting any offers to join a team/club these are some things to be mindful to help you identify the difference between Exposure vs. Experience.

For example,

  • What is your reason for joining?
  • Is your team focus on providing your child the exposure required ?
  • What does exposure mean to you and what are you looking for?
  • What are the types of tournaments you will be attending and do you know anything about them?
  • What is the success rate of players from your organization/club that has played in these tournaments?
  • Is this a future goal/plan, a stepping stone or something else for you and your child?

Whether you seek Exposure or overall Experience, it’s also helpful to make note of these as a deciding factor.

1.) Skill level

  • Is your child ready for this level of competition?
  • age of the athlete, years of experience, maturity, and genuine interest

2.) Commitment 

  • Are you ready for full season commitment?
  • Are you ready for the multiple travels to different city, country, various dates during the short season

3.) Cost

  • What are the costs associated with making the team (tryout fees, non deposit fee, tournament fee, transportation, hotel, food, entertainment, etc).
  • Will parents or other family members going on the trip or just the player?

For many families the opportunity to travel out of city or country and compete is exciting. The AAU travel season provides the opportunity to experience the sports culture outside of their comfort zone.

It also help players experience team bonding, gain perspective on what it means to be a student athlete and most often help them decide if this is the route they would like to continue.

Whatever your decision is as a parent, it’s best to identify your goal/purpose and work with your athlete on this journey.

Lastly let’s not forget to enjoy the  moments and memories it brings.


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