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USAH ADM Program

The American Development Model (ADM) provides age-appropriate guidelines and curriculum to hockey associations across America to help more kids play, love and excel in hockey. Brought to you by USA Hockey, in partnership with the NHL.

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ADM UPDATE | Ten Myths About The American Development Model
By: Kevin Universal, President Carolina Amateur Hockey Association

I realize any change good, bad, or indifferent is still a change and can be difficult for people to accept so I have started to collect a few of the negative comments that I have heard about the American Development Model (ADM) with regards to cross-ice play in the hope that I can dispel these myths.

IT ISN'T REAL HOCKEY. USING HALF THE SURFACE AND THE SMALLER NETS WON'T HELP KIDS LEARN THE REAL GAME. Do other sports ask their youngest athletes to play on a full-size football field, use a 10' basketball net, run 90' bases or use a full-size soccer net? No. Smaller fields and equipment are used everywhere except in hockey. Age-appropriate surfaces and equipment help put the game into perspective for younger kids, allow for better development of their skills, and most importantly, help make the game more fun for the kids!

IT WILL BE TOO CROWDED ON THE ICE. I have now seen two practices in person with 60+ mites on the ice at the same time and have watched multiple videos of practices with the same amount or more and have yet to see it look crowded. Well-planned out practices with the right number of coaches to help run stations are effective ways to use ice efficiently without crowding. All of the kids I witnessed at these practices and jamborees were engaged in fun drills or games with lots of puck time and plenty of smiles!

THE KIDS WON'T LEARN TEAMWORK. How much teamwork is involved with one skater taking the puck from one end of a full sheet of ice, skating it all the way down, and then shooting before most of the other teammates can catch up or get involved in the play? You know you have seen it at a mite full-ice game over and over. Cross-ice forces kids to work together in smaller areas to develop scoring opportunities and be creative.

THE KIDS WON'T LEARN TO SKATE. The ADM actually emphasizes age-appropriate skating drills but also places a lot of focus on fun drills and activities that help players develop more over the long term. The smaller areas also help kids increase their quickness and explosive speed which is best developed at the younger ages.

THE KIDS WON'T LEARN ABOUT POSITIONING. It won’t matter if kids know where to be if they can’t skate there or if they don’t enjoy the game. Also, teaching position too early can stifle creativity and a player’s ability to think on the fly. Players can learn more when they are older about positioning, breakouts, and forechecking systems without hurting their development early on.

THE ADM IS ONLY FOR THE AVERAGE PLAYER. Kids learn, grow and develop at different speeds and the ones you think at age 7 might be the next superstar might not develop as fast as others later on. Providing good coaching and development to all is important when kids are young since early segmentation has proven to be unreliable as a predictor of which kids will develop into elite athletes. It’s best for those kids who excel early on to continue to focus on age-appropriate drills that will best help their long-term development. Those drills can help both the 6-year-old who has been skating for three years and the 8-year-old who is enjoying his first season.

HOW WILL KIDS GET IN SHAPE OR GET THEIR CONDITIONING? Have you battled for a puck in the corner and gone back and forth in about a 10' space for 20 seconds? Have you ever worked the top of a penalty kill and gone back and forth between the point and the slot four times? There are numerous ways kids can get conditioned in small areas or in small games so don’t worry about missing out on that aspect with the ADM. There are a lot more ways than skating lines on a full sheet to build up conditioning, especially with fun drills and small area games that keep kids smiling and wanting more even though they are dead tired!

TOO MUCH FUN IS A BAD THING. Really? If the kids are enjoying the puck touches, the small games, the scoring, and are learning to love development how can that ever be a bad thing? I just don’t get that comment but hey, people have said that (I can’t make this stuff up). Think about it. If the kids come off the ice tired, developed, smiling and excited about when they can come back again for more, where is the down side? I wish everyone could find something they enjoy so much that is also great for their long-term development!

THE RINKS AND ASSOCIATIONS ARE JUST TRYING TO MAKE MORE MONEY BY JAMMING MORE KIDS ON THE ICE. It couldn’t be further from the truth. First, re-read the myth about crowding. Second, more efficient use of the ice can decrease your costs and can increase the number of times you practice each week. I, too, was once a hockey snob when my kids were younger and thought they needed more full ice. They would have been better developed if they had used what ice they had more efficiently and practiced more often than having a full sheet all to themselves. This could have improved their skills, made the game even more enjoyable to them, and helped reduced the cost mom and dad felt each season.

THE KIDS WON'T HAVE AS MUCH FUN. Ask your kids if they like to play games or stand around? Ask them if they like to carry the puck and score goals? Ask them if they like whistles and stoppages in play? Kids invariable have more fun when they are actively engaged during practice or in a game. High-energy drills, variety of drills, drills with pucks and small games all help develop kids while they are having loads of fun! Also cross-ice games support these same ideals with more puck touches, more scoring opportunities, less stoppages and make for a more enjoyable game for everyone involved!

There has been a lot of research and effort by USA Hockey looking at how to approach the game so give the ADM a chance when your organization starts to implement pieces of the model and I am very confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results!



The Colorado Competitive Youth Hockey League (CCYHL), Colorado’s largest league, encompassing 11 associations and approximately 3,500 players from Colorado Springs to Greeley including the Denver metroplex, has adopted the American Development Model (ADM) for the 8 & Under age group.

Ken Martel, USA Hockey’s national director for ADM, said “This is a great step for Colorado hockey especially at 8 & Under and the hockey directors within the CCYHL as well as the league leadership should be commended for implementing this league-wide.”

The CCYHL hockey directors met monthly throughout the course of the current season and by an overwhelming majority voted in early February to adopt ADM for the 2010-2011 season at the 8 & Under age group. Some of the primary ADM principles incorporated by the league at 8U include a shorter five-month season (October through March), half ice or cross ice games for the entire season with a maximum of 20 games, two-to-three ice sessions per week, as well as smaller and more ‘fluid’ rosters.

John Seymour, Hockey Director at Foothills Youth Hockey association, has seen the benefits during the current season commenting, “Foothills has incorporated many elements of the ADM especially at Mites and Squirts and also at Pee Wee over the past year and the benefits have been instrumental. The ADM program has fostered a greater sense of program unity while increasing the skills of all our players. Our players' individual skill set has improved and the love of the game is evident with all the smiles after an ADM practice session.”

Matt Huckins, Boulder Hockey Club hockey director, adds “At BHC we see the smaller rosters as a way for players to get more ice time during their games and as a result more puck touches. More puck touches per player means more shots, more goals, and more saves.”

The league also included a very important change to the way the season is started. Rather than having the first ice session of the new season be ‘tryouts’, every association in the CCYHL will start their season at the Mite & Squirt age groups with six weeks of skills and drills type practices including small area games before they select their teams. This means every player will have approximately three ice sessions per week for six weeks (18 or more ice sessions) before they are evaluated and placed on teams. In effect, a player who takes most of the summer off to play other sports or simply puts their bag down to recharge their ‘hockey battery’ is now on level footing with respect to team selection as the player who plays hockey throughout the summer. This should alleviate some of the ‘pressure’ young kids feel to skate throughout the summer in the interest of being ‘game ready’ come the first ice session of the new season.

Joe Doyle, ADM regional manager for the Rocky Mountain and Pacific districts, praised the CCYHL for incorporating this early season format saying, “We want to encourage kids, especially at the younger ages, to be multi-sport athletes and to take a little time away from the game. This is a structure that allows young athletes to do that and still compete to the utmost of their ability when team selection happens.”