USA Hockey was at the vanguard when it launched the American Development Model in 2009. It revolutionized youth hockey, and soon the nation’s entire sporting landscape took notice. Today, the ADM provides the training framework for nearly 20 national governing bodies and countless municipalities and sport clubs, all of which are helping lead a crusade to do what’s best for kids.
Evidence of that groundswell showed last week at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the U.S. Olympic Committee hosted a national youth sport symposium. A large and diverse spectrum of organizations ranging from NGBs and grassroots sport clubs to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National Strength and Condition Association joined together at the event to rally for continued ADM expansion.
As part of the symposium, USA Hockey’s Ken Martel summarized how the ADM attracted more players to ice hockey and kept them in the game longer, improving growth and retention rates nationwide since its debut. That’s an important measure of the ADM’s success, but it’s not the only measure. The ADM has also been worth its weight in gold on the international stage, as the youngest generation of American hockey talent continues to pile up medals with unprecedented regularity in the ADM era.
It’s become a hidden-in-plain-sight axiom at the professional level: The best way to build a winner is by developing talent. The ADM begins that process in youth sport with age-appropriate, high-performance training and competition. But it’s not a fast track. And with so many people in youth sport determined to win a race to nowhere, sometimes 12U trophy-hunting subverts long-term success. Ultimately, the kids pay the price.
“Parents think that their kid needs to make an elite team as soon as possible to be on the right track as early as possible, when really the best thing is to just give them good experiences, fundamental physical and sport skills, fun and confidence, and let the process work,” said Erin Smith, managing director of education and training for US Lacrosse.
“If they aren’t patient and don’t let the long-term process work, they risk kids specializing too soon, burning out, suffering overuse injuries, and ultimately giving up on sports before they even have a chance to really reap the benefits of the activity. And that rushed approach, whether by parents or coaches, also marginalizes those who may be less skilled or less advanced early on, thus shutting out a whole segment of kids who deserve a quality sport experience.
“At its roots, the ADM is asking everyone to slow down making judgements about kids’ full athletic potential, and instead focus on what’s developmentally right for kids at each stage of growth and development, physically, cognitively and social-emotionally.”
Smith was preaching to the choir during last week’s symposium, but her message is spreading as more NGBs, sport clubs and communities shift from youth sport designed for adults to a child-centric development model.
“It gives me goosebumps every time we hear another success story of an organization or sport leader telling us how they implemented an aspect of ADM in their program, whether it’s kid-sized playing surfaces, faster-paced practices, teaching games for understanding, making time for fun, inclusion of a wide variety of kids on the skill continuum, developmentally-based coach training, et cetera,” said Smith.
“We know the change needs to happen one leader and one program and a time, and that keeps us going day in and day out. The more ADM philosophies and principles become the norm, the less parents are going to feel the fear of missing out, because if everyone’s doing it the ADM way, we get rid of this need to keep up with the Joneses and we ultimately give the game and the sport experience back to the kids, which is who it is for to begin with.”
The USOC ADM Youth Sport Symposium included an active play segment for coaches from around the country to experience small-area games from a player's perspective. T.J. Buchanan from US Lacrosse's athlete development staff led the session and described several valuable coaching techniques in the video below.
Even with almost 50 years of involvement in hockey, you can’t plan for the current state of the world and the impact coronavirus has had on our game. I think it is safe to say that nothing prepares you for the changes that have taken place in our daily lives and the uncertainty of when things might return to normal. Or in this case, what will become the new “normal.”
Our expertise is hockey, so what we’ll address in this piece: the impact of the global pandemic on our game and how likely it will affect our game in the immediate future.
USA Hockey continues to post information on COVID-19 on the main website. These updates keep our membership informed of specific programs and the changing safety recommendations that will be in place when hockey returns. Be sure to check back regularly for updates and other hockey information.
On the officiating front, much of what we are able to do from a program standpoint is connected to player events like national tournaments and player development camps. As you know, the national tournaments (along with the March, April and May IIHF World Championship events) were cancelled. The Officiating Program then canceled our two instructor training programs that were planned for late April and early May in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
At this time, details for any potential summer development camps are still being determined. On the player side, several camps we are connected to were cancelled, and the few camps that are still in planning have been dramatically downsized. The Officiating Program continues to monitor the decisions made for players and will take advantage of any opportunity we have to salvage our summer camp program and maximize participation.
The good news is, we are confident we will have a 2020-21 season. All indications show no reason to delay registration. It will open as scheduled on or around May 26, followed by the open book exams and online seminar curriculum on June 1.
SafeSport Training (required for anyone born in the year 2003 or earlier) and background screening (learn about the new national level screening program in the Q & A section) will also be available to complete at that time. If COVID-19 still has things slowed down in early June, it would be an ideal time to get these requirements completed.
The biggest unknown will be the timing in which we will be able to conduct seminars. The vast majority of rinks are currently closed, and many of them took this opportunity to remove ice to save operating costs and do maintenance. There is now doubt they will be prepared to quickly ramp up once they are allowed to do so, but as with most everything right now, the timing is uncertain. As a result, some of the earlier seminars may be pushed back a few weeks. The District Referees-in-Chief will secure ice times and facilities so we can provide seminar dates and locations as quickly as possible. We are also encouraging our instructors to think outside the box by providing some weeknight seminar options, and to look at other ways to best meet the needs of our members.
The Advanced Officiating Symposium, scheduled for Providence, R.I. in late July, is still going to plan. We will continue to monitor the situation, including local restrictions and travel advisories in the coming weeks, and we will announce any changes in advance to allow for alterations to travel arrangements. Click here for up-to-date information or to reserve your seat at the 2020 Advanced Officiating Symposium.
These are difficult times for everyone, and although our hockey family is important to us, it is a small fraction of the big picture that is impacting our daily lives. To quote Andy Dufresne in his letter for Red that he left under the big oak tree in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We hope the coronavirus is conquered with minimal loss of lives and a return to a prosperous normal as soon as possible. We hope your passion for the game of hockey will only grow as a result of its absence. We hope we are back on the ice in the coming months and that the 2020-21 season will be our best yet.
Thank you for your continued support of USA Hockey and don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to make your hockey experience a better one. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and be prepared to be back on the ice soon.
Tag(s): ADM Features