As competitive athletes we typically play on more than one team, whether it be club, AAU or our high school squads. Dealing with so many coaches, some may not always see things the same way. The number of different philosophies on the same sport never ceases to amaze, and this can turn into a major dilemma for an athlete and their family.

Although my high school season and AAU season were never in direct conflict, the addition of summer league games for my high school team did cause some confusion. I loved both teams, for different reasons and the decision to miss one to play for another was agonizing. Unfortunately, technology hasn’t advanced so far that people can be in two places at once.

I can’t say that one team is more important than the other; college coaches typically recruit more during the AAU and club circuit, however they are also able to check out athletes in their high school arenas.

If at all possible, ask your high school coaches about the expectation during the offseason. It’s not uncommon to have high school teams that play together on different circuits under a different name. This allows teams to build camaraderie and cohesion that comes from playing together year round.

If that isn’t the case, as it wasn’t for me, you have to be admittedly a little selfish. My AAU team hit major tournaments that my high school summer league team just wasn’t going to attend. Keeping the end goal in mind, I knew that it was more important to put myself in the best position for the future, and to get the exposure I needed.

Once you have identified the collegiate level at which you think you’ll have the most success, you have to be honest with yourself. There’s no sense in going to a tournament where the schools you’re interested in won’t be. Call coaches and ask what tournaments they will be attending. If you present your current coaches with that information, they may schedule accordingly.

Loyalty is a huge dynamic when you start to discuss teams. High school coaches, college coaches and parents know well how thin an athlete can be stretched by the beast that is competitive sports. A college coach would much rather see their recruit healthy and playing quality opponents and minutes rather than sidelined with an injury as a result of trying to do too much.

Different coaches and different teammates can tap into a different set of emotional resources. I never struggled in high school the way I struggled when I first joined my AAU team.

My AAU coach was a stickler for details and completely dedicated to defense. Learning his system was tough. He used to say, “Oh that’s how they must do it at Holy Cross, huh?” whenever I did something he viewed as ridiculous. “Do it this way and get a bucket, I bet the man won’t have nothing to say to you then,” he would boast with confidence in what he was teaching.

He was often right, but I never threw anything he taught me in my high school coach’s face, or vise versa. I just continued to expand my game. The tug-of-war for player’s hearts is just part of the experience. As an athlete you want to absorb as much as you can from all sources. The more coaches around you who truly want to see you succeed, the more you will improve.

About Transition Game

Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports

Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.


Coping with the ‘bad’ coach (March 20, 2012(

Dealing with injury (March 13, 2012)

The dual-sport dilemma (Feb. 20, 2012)

Making the most of your college experience (Feb. 14, 2012)

Handling your parents and coaches (Feb. 7, 2012)

Dealing with that special breed of fans: Your parents (Jan. 24, 2012)

Advice for the young star athlete (Jan. 17, 2012)

Offseason is right time to get with the program (Jan. 3, 2012)

Managing to stay close to the game (Dec. 20, 2011)

Leadership, Tebow-style (Dec. 13, 2011)

The importance of attitude (Dec. 6, 2011)

Fine-tuning your “mistake response” (Nov. 22, 2011)

Looking beyond the stat sheet (Nov. 15, 2011)

Battling the “dumb jock” stereotype (Nov. 8, 2011)

Taking advantage of your athletic resume (Nov. 1, 2011)

College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)

Navigating the recruiting process: “Get a clue, control your career” (Oct. 18, 2011)

Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)

Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)