USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM) is an athlete-centered, coach-enhanced, administrator-supported framework that aims to help all individuals realize their athletic potential and utilize sport as a path toward an active and healthy lifestyle. This can be accomplished by following the 10 Guiding Principles and the age group recommendations that focus on developing all aspects of hockey performance in a developmentally appropriate manner, based on research and best practices in youth sports, human development, coaching, and the sports sciences.
The ADM is a framework to help all individuals realize their athletic potential and utilize sport as a path toward an active and healthy lifestyle. The ADM is based upon key tenets taken from research and best practices in youth sports, human development, coaching, and the sports science that promote sustained physical activity, health & safety, and age-appropriate development. It is important to note that the ADM is not exclusively a pathway for elite performance but for all individuals to participate for the purposes of activity, health, fitness and performance. Well-designed and conducted sport programs offer a myriad of benefits.
The need for the ADM is greater today than perhaps any time. The United States is confronted with the public health crisis of a sedentary lifestyle, physical inactivity, and poor fitness along with many issues in today’s hypercompetitive youth sports culture that does not allow for a positive and enjoyable youth sport experience for many. Both the U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity and Aspen Institute’s Project Play Report Card on Youth Sports have issued an overall grade of C. USA Hockey, along with the USOPC, believe that the ADM, is a solution.
This concept of long-term athlete development (LTAD) is not new. Historically, concepts around a framework of LTAD were initially developed as early as 1950s. More recently, in the United States, USA Hockey has been at the forefront of LTAD implementation. In 2009, USA Hockey developed and instituted the ADM in part to help with retention and developing better players through age-appropriate training and quality coach education. Given the early success of the USA Hockey ADM, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, in partnership with the National Governing Bodies, adopted tenants of the model in 2014.
USA Hockey ADM: More than cross-ice and station-based practices
In the past several years, we have heard a lot of coaches and parents say “we only do ADM at the younger ages.” Many think that ADM is merely cross-ice hockey and/or station-based practices at the younger age groups. Although these activities certainly represent aspects of ADM, there is so much more to it.
First, the ADM is a “cradle-to-grave” concept, and like many other facets of human development involves the process of growth, maturing, and progress in all facets of the sport. With that said, coaches often focus upon the skills and drills and teaching the game; however, overall athlete development involves not only sport-specific skills and an understanding of the game, but also understanding kids while developing general athleticism and fitness, fundamental movement skills, recovery, nutrition, and mental skills. This holistic athlete development approach addresses the four domains of sports performance.
Technical – sport skills
Tactical – game IQ
Physical – fitness and athleticism
Psychological – focus, motivation, etc.
And while many compartmentalize these domains, human development is highly complex. These domains are extremely interdependent and every child is different brining their own unique qualities to ice hockey.
The ADM, through utilization of LTAD principles, allows us to integrate training, competition and recovery programming with relation to biological and psychosocial development so that we can fully get at a kid’s potential -- to help bring an athlete out of a kid, then a hockey player out of an athlete.