ABCs of the ADM

Breaking Down the American Development Model


Improving agility, balance and coordination among all youth hockey players is a main goal for the ADM.


Internationally recognized coaching educator Istvan Balyi developed the Long-Term Athlete Development model based on scientific data of how young people develop their maximum sporting ability, linking more closely coaching and the development of players to their physical and psychological growth.


While competition is great at older ages, it is not the best way for younger players (ages 8 to 14) to develop their skills. Studies have proven that the average player touches the puck a little more than 20 seconds during the course of a game. (See K – Kingston.)


Development Stages

The eight stages of Long-Term Athlete Development are Active Start, Fundamentals, Learn to Train, Train to Train, Learn to Compete, Train to Compete, Train to Win and Hockey for Life.

Equal Ice Time

At the youngest age levels, all players should receive the same number of ice touches, opportunities and exposure to quality coaches. This is a stark contrast to the current structure where early bloomers are given more and better opportunities to the detriment of kids who grow slower and develop later in life.

Fun & Fundamentals

Keeping things fun and more age appropriate while helping every player improve his or her fundamental skills will help create more hockey players for life.

Growth & Retention

Getting more kids to try hockey and keeping more kids in the game for life is vital to the growth of the sport. Too many families are leaving hockey because of the cost, time commitment and win-at-all-costs attitude that is pervasive in our sport today.

High Performance Clubs

High Performance Clubs will be located around the country with teams at the 13U, 14U, 15U, 16U and 18U levels to compete in a National HPC League.


Support from around the country has been overwhelming as many local associations, affiliates and Districts will begin phasing in the ADM at the Mite level starting with the 2009-10 season.


Cross-ice or half-ice jamborees can be included in a Mites’ season schedule to showcase each players’ skill development and add interest for parents.


A 1976 study by George Kingston found that the average player at the 6- to 8-year-old level touches the puck for only 20.7 seconds over the course of a 60-minute full-ice game. This study has been repeated and proven with similar results over the years.

Long-Term Athlete Development

The cornerstone of the ADM, forming the foundation for developing athletes. It integrates training, competition and recovery programming with relation to biological ages and maturation.

Multiple Sports

Players are encouraged to play other sports to improve their physical literacy and overall athleticism by taking a mental and physical break from the rink.


A generous grant from the National Hockey League will provide the financial backing to get the ADM off the ground and moving forward.

Off-Ice Training

Conducted once or twice a week, before or after on-ice practice, to focus on agility, balance, coordination and speed.


Dividing the calendar year into intervals for preparation, competition, rest and recovery.

Quality Over Quantity

A basic principle of the ADM is to make better use of the time a player spends on the ice, mainly through skill-developing practices, rather than increasing the number of games played during a season.

Regional Managers

There will be six regional managers strategically located around the country to implement the principles of the ADM by providing full-time staff support and guidance to youth hockey associations in their area.


Stamina, Strength, Speed, Skill, Suppleness

The five trainable physical capacities that can be improved during age specific periods of a child’s life.

Touches (Practices and Games)

At each age level, there are prescribed numbers of ice touches to provide maximum opportunities for skill development while keeping the sport affordable for families.


We have created a system where Squirts are playing more games than an NHL player. The amount of time spent on skill development and athleticism has given way to competition.

Voluntary Program

While USA Hockey strongly encourages all youth hockey associations to follow the principles of the ADM, it is still a voluntary

Windows Of Trainability

Identifiable stages during a child’s physical and psychological development that offer optimum opportunities to develop particular physical capacities, such as stamina, strength, speed, sport skills and suppleness (flexibility).



A more efficient use of ice time and space, allowing more kids to be on the ice at the same time, which keeps costs down and aids in skill development with the use of small area games. Grouping kids according to age and size also increases participation and skill development through more puck handling, more shots, more saves, more goals and more fun.

Youth Hockey

This program is designed for every player in youth hockey, whether that player has set his or her sights on competing at an elite level or wants to pursue a recreational path.

Zero Time To Waste

Our hockey cultural has evolved over time, and in order to catch up to other countries, grow our ranks of players and increase the number of high-level players every youth hockey association around the country needs to adopt the principles of the ADM right away.



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