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AHU COACH’S CORNER: The ADM approach lets youth players unlock true potential


As we move into the holidays, we want to wish everyone in our hockey family a safe and happy holiday season.

It is also a time where we begin to think about 2016 and how the last few years have seen continued growth of hockey in the Valley. A cornerstone of the development of our youth hockey players is the American Development Model (ADM). The goal is to have a significant focus on improving the skills and overall experience for our youth hockey players and allow them to reap the benefits of long-term athlete development.

According to USA Hockey, “ADM is designed to create a new breed of creative player with better skills and the courage to use them in any competitive situation.” Our coaches are focusing on building more technique and improved skills, in essence – a more well-rounded player. While there are still some who are not convinced this is the best model, we are seeing the benefits of ADM long term. Hockey is not an early specialization sport, and ADM is essential to long-term athlete development.

ADM uses long-term athlete development (LTAD) principles as its framework to our coaching methodology. This is rooted in the statistics related to player development, specific to skill development time each player has in practice and in games. When you examine the number of reps of a skill or situation that occur in practice and games, players will always have a greater chance to develop their skills in practice. The ADM was created to value practice and proper training above games, but the kids love to compete too.

Our season is underway and AHU is excited to see the fruits of ADM through LTAD as we begin competing in tournaments and against teams from outside the Valley. We’ve integrated our training, competition and conditioning coaching to help each individual player unlock their potential. This includes learning basic skills, while still having fun. We are also focused on developing the desire to seek continuous improvement, a core need for all players.

ADM ensures there is extensive skill development under the age of 10 and keeps players engaged and in motion. ADM style means small-area games, splitting to small groups of players to get more reps and more conditioning, goalie-specific drills and skill sessions to develop players. Our coaches design practices to improve the experience and development of our young players through more activity, small-area games and more time with pucks on their sticks. Station-based practices with a low coach-to-player ratio allows kids more time to handle the puck, be in motion and actually work on skills. USA Hockey research is that “the amount of time a child has the puck on his stick in a 60-minute ADM-style practice would need about 11 games to replicate.”

Enjoy the tournament and regular season competition, but remember to stay focused on your individual player development. Something to remember during the competitive season – most kids would rather play more than win. They care about who they are playing with, how involved their family is and who their best friend is on the team. Remember to ask questions like “Did you have fun?” and “What did you learn?” and “Did you do your best?”

ADM provides kids the opportunity to do what they would prefer – playing a regular shift, with power play time and penalty killing time on a losing team rather playing sparingly on a winning team. That’s because our children don’t think about hockey the way we do.

At the very core of ADM is the desire to improve the experience and development of our young players through more activity, small-area games and more time with pucks on their sticks. If you ever have questions about skills, drills, practice techniques and anything in the ADM or LTAD methodology, please never hesitate to ask your AHU coaches.

Kurt Goar is Arizona Hockey Union’s coach-in-chief.

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