What is long-term athlete development?

The ADM utilizes long-term athlete development principles as its framework. LTAD principles can be used as a basis on which to make our existing systems and structures more consistent. Developed by internationally renowned coach educator Istvan Balyi, and adapted to ice hockey by USA Hockey, the principles of LTAD are rooted in successful programs throughout the world.

This is a great opportunity to change the way we go about developing hockey potential.

One of the first things that USA Hockey did when beginning this project was to look closely at the statistics related to player development – specifically the skill development time each player has when in both a practice setting and a game setting. When viewed from the perspective of how kids learn the number of repetitions of specific skills and situations that occur in practice versus a game, we quickly learned where players have a chance to develop the most: Practice.

So a model was created that valued practices and proper training above all else. This isn’t to say that the ADM is about taking the fun out of hockey, quite the contrary. Practices can and should be fun, especially if the kids are all playing together and having a blast with a game that they love. The more they play it, the better chance that they’ll love it. And when you combine a passion for the game with increased puck time, kids will start to excel at it. Play, love, excel. That’s the ADM.
As research was conducted in developing the ADM, it became apparent that critical areas in our system were neglecting kids at a very early age. As children mature, they each progress through the same development stages. And certain aspects of these stages must be addressed at the appropriate points along the development curve in order for our children to reach their genetic potential. Maximum development occurs through age-appropriate structure and content. Without developing skills and certain physical and mental attributes at the appropriate time, the long-term prospects of becoming a truly elite player diminish each day.

The ADM, through utilization of LTAD principles, allows us to integrate training, competition and recovery programming with relation to biological development so that we can fully get at a kid’s potential. To make an athlete out of a kid. Make a hockey player out of an athlete. The ADM offers equal opportunity for recreation and competition – a key to retaining younger players.