CAHA continues to push the ADM advantage
By Brian McDonough
Most people associated with youth hockey have at least heard of the American Development Model (ADM).
USA Hockey, though, wants to make certain every association understands it to its fullest – so much so that, beginning this season, the nation’s governing body for the sport has recommended that every state affiliate appoint an ADM coordinator.
For the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association, that individual is Mike Cote, who’s been armed with the task of educating local coaches, parents and administrators about the value of the initiative, and how to execute its teachings properly.
“The ADM is getting such positive results, both nationally and here in Colorado, and we need to stay the course,” said Cote. “If (associations) go off doing their own thing, we’ll start to either lose kids to other sports or under-develop talent that may have blossomed into elite players.”
In conjunction with the ADM, Cote is charged with educating those within the state about the Long-Term Athlete Development, which is the fact-based science behind the ADM and encourages age-appropriate skill development and training over competition at the younger levels.
There are a number of elements that comprise the ADM, among them recommending that Mites (8U) play cross-ice games – this year’s 2006 birth years will be able to play half-ice after Jan. 1, 2015 – so they can handle the puck more and develop their skills in an engaging environment.
“But the ADM isn’t just about cross-ice games,” noted Cote, a Rhode Island native and former youth coach in Colorado. “It’s also about keeping the game fun so kids and parents want to come back the next season.”
Prior to the ADM’s inception in 2009, 60 percent of players left the game before Pee Wees with 20 percent dropping out after just one season, according to USA Hockey studies, which led to an overall national decline in retention since 2000.
That, says architects of the ADM, was because teams and associations were spending way too much time and energy concentrating on wins and losses rather than developing properly-trained hockey players built for the long haul.
Teams at the younger levels were playing too many games, and traveling too much to get to them. That and coaches were putting too much emphasis on teaching game tactics rather than developing skills. What’s more, too many players were using hockey as their only athletic outlet.
All of which contributed to burnout and, as a result, dropouts.
“We want to keep the game fun with a low-stress level at the younger ages, which in turn will keep more players involved as they grow older,” said Cote. “If we really engrain these philosophies into the fabric of our local hockey community, the sky’s the limit in terms of developing more skilled players, retaining players and getting more kids involved.”
And the results speak for themselves. Since the 2009-10 season, youth hockey in Colorado has blossomed from 1,922 players at the 8U level to 2,183 today – an increase of 13.6 percent.
“That’s an impressive statistic,” said Cote.
By embracing the ADM, USA Hockey also provides the chance for associations to earn Model Association status. With the recognition, select programs are committed to fully implementing programming dedicated to age-appropriate, age-specific skill development, in accordance with the ADM, throughout the 8U, 10U (Squirt) and 12U (Pee Wee) age groups.
Each association receives support from USA Hockey to implement the ADM throughout their programs, including in-person coaches training, on-ice instruction and parent education from USA Hockey’s national staff. Each program also receives equipment, signage and educational resources from USA Hockey.
Colorado already boasts a U.S.-most four Model Associations: the Arvada Hockey Association, Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association, Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association and most recently Colorado Rampage Hockey Club.
“This is such an exciting time for our state in terms of developing our youth hockey potential,” said Cote. “We have such great programs, great coaches and great facilities, and there’s a lot of passion here to see the game continue to grow.”
For more information on the ADM, LTAD or how to become a Model Association, contact Cote at email@example.com or (512) 366-2999.