When receiving offers from various clubs, a player will often get an offer for a -1s team from a club, a -2s offer from another club, and perhaps a -3s offer from a third club.  Most players will immediately think that the -1s offer must be the best offer because it’s the top team at that age level for that club.  But how do you accurately and realistically compare the skill levels of those three teams making offers?  Well, let’s start with the bottom line:  you cannot equate the level of a team from Club A with any level from Club B.  The only legitimate comparison of teams’ skill levels – for example, 15-1 vs 15-2 vs 15-3 – is within a club, not across different clubs.


Well, it is almost always true that the more players a club has coming to their tryouts, the higher the overall skill level.  That can be confirmed by walking into a larger club’s tryout gym and taking a quick look at the level of play.  So when putting teams together, larger clubs have more skilled players to consider, and they can’t all go on the -1s team.  Players that would be -1s players at smaller clubs will be on -2s teams for a larger club – and depending on the numbers and skill level at tryouts, can filter down to -3s and maybe -5s teams.  You don’t have to be on a -1s team to be on a skilled team, with skilled players around you.

If you look at tournament results and rankings on AES, you will see -n teams from large clubs defeating, and ranking higher, than -1s teams from smaller clubs on a regular basis – which makes sense when you take a moment to think about it.  Quick example:  if Club Texas has 6 excellent 15s setters at tryouts, and Club Rhode Island has 2 excellent 15s setters at theirs, Club Texas’ 15-3s is going to have at least one excellent setter while Club Rhode Island’s 15-2s will be trying to develop someone into a serviceable setter.  And, of course, this is true for every position on the court.

Another decent way to compare skill levels is – “Where do the top HS players play?” because most certainly, they play club. This is a good way to assess the work and output of a club that helps when comparing clubs.

Quite often players and parents will want the “status” of being on a -1s team.  But again, they could well be missing a great opportunity to be on a more-skilled -n team for a larger club, a team that will make more waves at larger, multi-day tournaments than a -1s team that offers only status.  What is way more important is the reputation of a club and the quality of its coaches, than the label applied to a team – whether that label be “-1,” “Elite,”, “National,”, etc. A good question to ask is, “Why are there so many people trying out for this club?”

So please look into those things – the clubs, the coaches, the talent on the teams offering roster spots to you –  rather than making your choice based on a mere label given to those teams.  A label is only that – a word or a number – and has no significance as to the strength of one club’s team vs another’s.

If you have questions,  please be sure to ask them.