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Everything You Need to Know About the AAU

You might know about the AAU if you or someone you know plays sports. It’s one of the best places to compete against the top athletes in your state outside of school.   

But if you’re first discovering the AAU, you might have questions like what does AAU mean? And what is it other than a way to play sports?  

Below is a rundown of everything there is to know about the AAU.  

What is AAU?

AAU stands for the Amateur Athletic Union. It’s a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that offers kids and teens a way to compete against the best athletes across 41 sports programs.  

The AAU has almost 700,000 members and 150,000 volunteers in 55 U.S. Districts. Their motto is “Sports For All, Forever” because they believe everyone should have the option to play sports and be physically fit. Their mission is to offer sports programs for people of all ages so anyone can learn good sportsmanship.  

In fact, the AAU and the National Fitness Foundation (NFF) announced a historic collaboration in 2019 to support and expand youth sports and athletics participation in the United States. The AAU now manages the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP), which aims to modernize fitness education in physical education classes by emphasizing student health, goal setting, and personal progress. The AAU is the only organization in the country that manages youth sports and fitness programs in and out of school. 

Today, the Amateur Athletic Union hosts the AAU Junior Olympic Games, one of the country’s most significant multi-sport events. They also host the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships. This volleyball event is the largest in the world, with more than 2,700 teams competing yearly.  

What sports are offered in AAU?

The sports offered in the AAU are: 

BaseballField HockeyKarateSurfing
BasketballFootballKung FuSwimming
Baton TwirlingFutsalLacrosseTable Tennis
CheerleadingAcrobatic GymnasticsPickleballTarget Shooting
ChessRhythmic GymnasticsPowerliftingTrack and Field
DanceIce HockeyRugbyTrampoline & Tumbling
DivingInline HockeySoccerBeach Volleyball
EsportsJudoSoftballIndoor Volleyball
FencingJump RopeSport StackingWrestling

What is the AAU age limit?

The age limit depends on the group/division you want to play in. It may also depend on the sport. Athletes wishing to play boys’ basketball in the seven and under group can’t be any older than seven on August 31, 2023. For athletes playing in the 20 and under group, they can’t be any older than 20 on August 31, 2023.  

How does the AAU pick coaches?

The AAU has partnered with the Positive Coaching Alliance since 2010 to provide all coaches with the proper education. All AAU coaches must pass a background check and take mandatory coaching classes. These classes are:  

You must check out prospective coaches before joining a team or allowing your child to join a team. Getting to know coaches before play can give you a sense of their coaching style and whether the team will be a good fit. 

Who can host AAU events?

To host an AAU event, you need to get written approval. This is also called a sanction. To obtain written permission, you must fill out the AAU Sanction Application Form and pay all fees. You also must check that all participating athletes are AAU members.   

Pros and Cons of AAU Teams

There are many pros and cons to playing on AAU teams:  


The pros to playing on an AAU team are: 


Here are some of the cons: 

History of the AAU

The AAU was founded in 1888 as an organization in the New York Athletic Club. Since 1930, they’ve given the AAU James E. Sullivan Award to America’s top amateur athletes, setting the standard for amateur sports.  

As a leader in international sports, they have often represented the U.S. in international sports federations. Initially, they prepped young athletes for the Olympics. In the 1970s, it transitioned to providing sports programs for all athletes of all ages and fitness levels. But its storied past doesn’t stop there. 

In 1996, the AAU joined up with Walt Disney World and relocated their national headquarters to Orlando, Florida, moving into the ESPN World of Sports Complex. Now, 60+ AAU national events are held annually at the ESPN complex; which the AAU shares with the Atlanta Braves.  

History of the AAU timeline

Find an AAU Team near You

The NSCA has been a pioneer of sports recruiting since 2000 and has all the information you need to find the right AAU team, whether it is basketball, baseball or volleyball. It has helped more than 150,000 athletes play college sports in the United States of America. With our always-growing network of 40,000 coaches, your athlete will surely get noticed. Start your free NCSA profile online.