Club Basketball - FAQ

Basketball Alberta wants to educate and inform the basketball community to assist players and families in helping navigate the complex number of choices that are available. You have the right to ask reasonable questions and receive reasonable answers. You are the one paying for the experience being offered.

1) Should I try out for the Basketball Alberta Provincial Team or play for a club team?

You should weigh your decision based on what both programs truly offer and make the decision that is best suited to you. Basketball Alberta supports the concept of a cooperative approach between the Provincial Team and clubs to allow athletes the best opportunities and experiences.

2) What is club basketball?

Clubs can be formed as for profit or not for profit organizations and each club has its own business model. Some are trying to cover their costs and others are trying to make a substantial profit.
Each club has its own focus and program. Some emphasize heavy tournament travel while others offer more practices to focus on individual improvement which means tournament play is less frequent.

3) What questions should I ask when trying to choose a club?

a) What is the total cost of the entire experience?
Some clubs are upfront about the actual financial commitment that needs to be made. Others don’t discuss the full extent of their actual programming costs and may not be clear about the additional travel costs and expenses you need to pay. (For example: A club may charge $1000 - $1500 for their spring and summer programs and travel to several tournaments. Participants then have to then pay their travel, food and accommodations in addition to the base participation fee which pushes the cost to $7,000 - $10,000.)

b) What certification do the club’s coaches have? 
Club coaches may or may not have formal training or certification. The game of basketball is always changing and coaches ideally are trying to stay on top of these changes and address the need to learn how to teach the current concepts. Coaches should have National Coaching Certification Program training and be able to provide proof of their certification. One resource to check for what training a coach should have
Basketball Alberta Provincial Team Head Coaches are certified at the Train to Train or Train to Compete level,depending on the age group they are coaching.  The U17 Head Coaches have Train to Compete which is the same standard as required for head coaches at the college or university level.

c) What is the team’s Coach to Athlete Ratio?
Basketball Alberta has 3 coaches for each provincial team and 2 for each of the U14 zone teams. It is challenging to have 1 coach for 12 athletes and have proper skills being taught and reinforced.

d) Does the club have a mandatory Police Record Check on all coaches involved in their program?
This should be mandatory. Basketball Alberta requires this before any coach is hired.

e) How many practices do you get in addition to games?
It is well documented that skill levels do not improve if players are spending most of their time playing games.  A minimum of a 3 to 1 practice to game ratio (or higher) is essential for skill development.

f) Does the club have fair player release and refund policies?
Sometimes things just don’t work out. You don’t like the coach. You get injured. You move. You are having difficulties with teammates. The club is not delivering on the promises they made.You want to switch to another club or try out for the Provincial Team. These are examples of how circumstances can change over the course of time. Understand the club’s policies if such a situation were to occur. Clarify that the club will be fair and reasonable in how they address special situations.

g) How long should I commit to playing for a club?
It is Basketball Alberta’s strong recommendation that young athletes commit to no more than one season of play with any club program. Long term commitments put the player and family at the mercy of the club. Many things can change over time in terms of the club’s business practices, coaching selections and player development programs. If you do not agree with the changes, you may be locked in to a long term financial and playing obligation. A long term contractual commitment is unnecessary.

h) Is club basketball the best way to get recruited by U.S. colleges?
It is only one of many ways to get noticed and recruited. It is extremely rare for an athlete to be discovered at one of the hundreds of tournaments that take place across the U.S. and Canada. Basketball Alberta urges that extreme caution be taken if a club promises that you will be seen by U.S. coaches in one of the tournaments and possibly receive an NCAA scholarship. This is an irresponsible tactic and should immediately raise a red flag about the club’s ethics.

There are numerous ways to get exposure to potential universities and colleges. If you are a good player, you can be identified through your school, provincial team or club program. Canada’s players are now high on the U.S. recruiting radar. BA’s provincial team program athletes have had ongoing, documented success in receiving U.S. scholarships along with high visibility to CIS and CCAA schools. 

4) Will I improve faster if I play club basketball?
You will improve only as hard as you work on your own time and with the teams you play on. That includes junior and senior high school teams, provincial teams and club teams. There is no magic in getting better. It comes down to how hard you work on the important aspects of your game..

5) Will I be identified for Canada Basketball Development and Assessment Camps for National Team consideration if I play club basketball? Your best opportunities to be identified for National Team consideration is to participate in Basketball Alberta’s Targeted Athlete Strategy, Sr. Academy, Jr. Academy and Provincial Team Programs. Clubs coach and teach the game using the FIBA influnced Canadian Style of Play. Canada Basketball and Basketball Alberta programs teach the game with the most current international individual and team development methods that best prepare players for potential National Team and post secondary consideration. Playing club exclusively will limit your National Team exposure opportunities. This does not mean you can’t be identified with your club team but it is much harder if you are not being evaluated by the Provincial and National Team coaching staffs.

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