An AAU Membership Can Help Boost Your Scholarship Chances
What is the Amateur Athletic Union?
AAU, a nonprofit sports association established in 1888, is among the biggest volunteer, multi-sport organizations worldwide for amateur athletes. AAU originated in the desire to develop, enhance and standardize physical fitness and sports programs for non-professionals. The organization currently boasts about 700,000 participants throughout America and the world.
Over the years, AAU has helped athletes train for the Olympic Games. It has served as the U.S. representative at international sports conferences. Since 2019, the organization has also administered the Presidential Youth Fitness Program in schools throughout America.
An AAU membership lasts for one year. When it expires, you must complete a renewal to maintain eligibility for AAU play. Whenever you want to confirm your renewal date, use the AAU membership lookup tool. Types of AAU registration include:
- Youth AAU membership for all sports
- An annual adult membership for a specific sport
- AAU membership for coaches
- AAU membership for team administrators
- AAU membership for clubs
Age groups in the AAU youth division start at eight and under. They go as high as 18 years old, with a separate division for each age in between. The skills, sportsmanship and competitive experience of athletes who have grown up playing AAU sports may help them win college scholarships. The membership cost starts at $14.
Once you complete AAU registration and submit your annual AAU membership cost, your child qualifies to join an existing AAU club or to get together with others to form a new team. Your child's team will compete against other AAU teams in your region. Depending on the sport, play goes year-round, unlike high school when you can only play a sport in season. Because athletes get far more practice and competitive experience during a year of sports, they often acquire skills faster than their high school athletics counterparts.
Also, AAU events provide opportunities for clubs and individuals to shine. For example, an AAU track and field event such as The Southwest Indoor Championship brings various clubs together for a higher level of competition and more meaningful awards.
This is not to say that AAU members cannot participate in high school sports. They are free to play on their school teams too. Many take a break from competition during school sports seasons. Some athletes, with the approval of their coaches, do both.
What are the different levels of the AAU sports organization?
Children from 8 and under to 18 can compete in the youth division once they get their AAU membership. The youth membership covers all the sports, so kids can play as many as they have time for.
The adult AAU membership is for players over 18 years of age. Unlike the youth membership, adults must specify the sport they intend to participate in. They must have a separate membership for each sport they want to join. You can also obtain an AAU registration as a coach or as a team administrator.
Clubs or teams must also register for membership and AAU renewal annually. First, the coach and adults involved in running the club must be members. There are three levels of AAU club membership. Level one covers:
- One youth or adult club membership
- Participation in play
- Voting power at meetings
- The ability to apply for practice insurance coverage
Level two includes the above, plus the ability to host a sanctioned sports event. In addition to all of the level one and two benefits plus a combination AAU membership for a youth and adult club, level three provides the ability to apply for tax-exempt status and to collect donations.
The annual club membership cost starts at $30 per year for a youth level one team. It tops out at $320 for a level three adult and youth combination membership. If you are unsure of the type of membership you have, use the AAU membership lookup tool on the AAU website.
What are some of the sports included in a youth AAU membership?
AAU membership gives youth members access to 35 sports programs, including:
- Boys' basketball
- Girls' basketball
- Men's and women's volleyball
- AAU baseball
- AAU track and field
- AAU wrestling
- AAU football
- AAU Hockey
- Martial arts
- AAU Swimming
- AAU volleyball
Some of these sports contain sub-categories. For example, beach volleyball and indoor AAU volleyball come under the general heading of AAU volleyball membership. AAU volleyball is quite competitive, and college recruiters take note of an AAU volleyball membership on a high school athlete's NCSA online profile. The same holds true for AAU wrestling.
AAU volleyball tournaments can lead your child's team to national tournaments or even the West Coast AAU Junior Olympics Games. The latter is a two- to three-day tournament featuring the most competitive clubs in AAU volleyball nationwide.
AAU track and field includes indoor and outdoor meets leading to national championship tournaments and the AAU Junior Olympic Games. Individuals who win district and regional AAU track and field championships advance in their events to national competitions.
The AAU Track and Field Indoor National Championships include the top male and female ages 8-18 qualifiers in such indoor AAU track and field events as:
- 60-yard dash
- 60 hurdles
- 200, 400, 800, 1,500 and 3,000-yard races
- 4 x 200 relays
- High jump
- Long jump
- Pole vault
- Shot put
- Triple jump
AAU wrestling enhances participants' progress toward national competition with both youth national tournaments and AAU Junior Olympics platforms. Boys and girls compete in separation divisions. AAU wrestling tournament types include elementary, middle school and high school events.
Clubs also provide boys and girls with opportunities to experience AAU wrestling at its most competitive. As they progress through high school and look ahead to college sports, AAU wrestling experience is among the top items recruiters are looking for in selecting the most skilled athletes for college sports scholarships.
Whether AAU hockey, AAU martial arts, AAU football, AAU basketball, AAU baseball or another sport is one your child excels in, getting them into sports provides them with a valuable experience. Honing skills, learning sportsmanship and laying the foundation for future NCAA team play are all top benefits of AAU athletics.
How do you pick an AAU team?
One way to start checking out clubs in your area is to get a list of AAU clubs from the AAU Club Locator. Use your AAU login information to get access. Then, you simply key in your sport and your zip code to find basketball teams, for example, or martial arts events.
Some teams travel more frequently than others. Before choosing a team, find out how often your athlete will be on the road and how often the clubs play at home. Depending on your lifestyle, this information may be critical to your sign up and the benefit of athletics to your child. Keep in mind, though, that to get the most from playing AAU sports like AAU volleyball, travel to championship tournaments is a given.\
Regional tournaments and national championships take place throughout the U.S. and beyond. The 2020 AAU hockey Capitol Cup took place in Lansing, Mich., for instance, while the North American Championships were held in London, Ontario. With AAU clubs playing throughout the world, your team may occasionally play far from home.
How does AAU pick coaches?
When coaches register for AAU membership, they must complete a mandatory Positive Coaching Alliance class. These classes are sport-specific and include coaching psychology, best practices of elite coaches and more. Some of the contributors to these coach certification courses are Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders, Olympic gymnast Bart Conner and NBA championship coach Phil Jackson.
Each AAU coach who successfully completes the class receives an AAU certification. If in doubt, you can check the membership lookup for the certified coaches list to confirm that your team's coach has the AAU sanction.
The coach must abide by the AAU rules for each sport and communicate those rules to membership players. Each sport's rules are also available for parents and players online. For example, you can view the AAU rulebook for Taekwondo here.
Who can host AAU events?
AAU clubs that have a Level Two or Level Three AAU membership and a registered AAU coach are eligible to host competitive events. It may seem daunting, but AAU clubs get some benefits from doing the organizational work for a tournament, such as:
- Banking 100 percent of the entry fees
- Opportunities to get sponsors
- Free event publicity on websites and social media sites
AAU membership registration details
It is a simple process to get an individual membership for AAU. Youth membership, at under $20 for the year for all sports, is affordable. Adult athlete memberships apply to one sport only, and the fee may vary according to the sport, starting at $14 and going up to $30. All memberships run from the first of September to the 31st of August. You can register for membership or enter your AAU login as an existing member on the AAU membership page.
Parents and student athletes thinking ahead to college athletics should consider getting involved in AAU programs early on so they can build a portfolio that gets noticed by college coaches and recruiters. It is also important to work with an experienced athletic recruiting service, such as NCSA, with a proven track record for results.
What is NCSA?
A pioneer in online college sports recruiting, NCSA is now one of the largest college athletics recruiting service in the world. Since 2000, NCSA has been working to grow its extensive online recruiting presence. In the process, it has won the trust of more than 35,000 college and university coaches. Since then, NCSA has helped more than 150,000 athletes play college sports throughout the nation.
Positive reviews from all sorts of sources give NCSA stellar ratings. Google reviewers give NCSA 4.9 out of five stars. More than 86,000 parents of student athletes rate their experience with NCSA nine stars out of ten. With a mission to support, educate and guide athletes and their families through the college recruitment and scholarship process, NCSA has earned its positive reputation as the leader in its field.
Our team at NCSA, 750 or so strong, includes many former college coaches and athletes who have experienced the recruiting world first-hand. We have a commitment to helping student athletes realize their dreams of playing high-level college sports because we have a personal stake in the process. The competitive spirit stays strong among the ranks of NCSA's team members. That is why we go above and beyond the norm to help make the future brighter for our clients.
That would be impossible without a great relationship with the coaches and recruiters who make the decisions in college sports. Our statistics tell the story of the bond of trust we have forged with them over the past 20 years in the game.
In 2018, 90 percent of college sports teams had at least one of our clients on their rosters. In 2019, 24,000 NCSA athletes won coveted spots on college teams. Coaches looked over our athletes' online profiles nearly 5.5 million times in 2018 alone, and they launched more than 710,000 athlete searches via the NCSA platform during the same year.
Get in touch with NCSA today
It is never really too early to get started on your child's online profile with NCSA. With exposure to 35,000 coaches in our growing network, our recruiting platform is a great way to get your athlete noticed. Coaches rely on us to provide them with the athletes and information they need to build their future teams, and they take note of those candidates with AAU experience. Start your free NCSA profile online now or call us at 866-495-5172 today for further details.