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Long Term Athlete Development

The ADM utilizes long term athlete development (LTAD) principles as its framework. LTAD principles can be used as a basis on which to make our existing systems and structures more consistent. Developed by internationally renowned coach educator Istvan Balyi, and adapted to ice hockey by USA Hockey, the principles of LTAD are rooted in successful programs throughout the world.

One of the first things that USA Hockey did when beginning this project was to look closely at the statistics related to player development — specifically the skill development time each player has when in both a practice setting and a game setting. When viewed from the perspective of how kids learn the number of repetitions of specific skills and situations that occur in practice versus a game, we quickly learned where players have a chance to develop the most: practice.

So a model was created that valued practice and proper training above all else. This isn’t to say that the ADM is about taking the fun out of hockey, quite the contrary. Practices can and should be fun, especially if the kids are all playing together and having a blast with a game that they love. And when you combine a passion for the game with increased puck time, kids will start to excel at it. Play, Love, Excel. That’s the ADM.

Stages of LTAD

Active Start

Ages 0-6. Focused on developing fundamental movement skills.


6U & 8U players (Mites). Develop ABC's of athleticism.

Learn to Train

10U & 12U (Squirt & Peewee). Refine overall sport skills and learn fundamental sport specific skills.

Training to Train

14U & 16U (Bantams & early High School). Continue to develop sports specific skills, introduce competition, and emphasize development of speed, strength and stamina while maintaining flexibility.

Learn to Compete

18U (High School). Prepare athletes for the competitive environment, continue to refine technical skills, ancillary skills and develop the physical attributes.

Hockey for Life

Enjoy life long physical activity in hockey through participation and recreation.

ltad videos

10 Factors of LTAD

FUNdamentals - Learning basic movement and sports skills should be made FUN

Specialization - Well-rounded, multisport athletes have the highest potential to achieve

Trainability - Missing optimum opportunities significantly affects a child's ability to reach his or her potential

Ten Year Rule - Refers to the '10 year - 10,000 hour rule' relating to the need of practice for three hours a day for 10 years to become proficient

Physical/Mental/Cognitive/Emotional Development - Focusing while remaining calm and confident is an essential skill to long-term performance

Biological Age vs. Chronological Age - Chronological age is a poor guide to segregate adolescents for competition

Periodization - Segmenting the calendar year into appropriate time intervals for preparation, competition, rest and recovery

System Alignment and Integration - We need a structure that is athlete-centered and looks at the individual player's development

Calendar Planning for Competition - There needs to be a better system for how to best use our kids' time on and off the ice

Continuous Improvement - The LTAD principles on which ADM is built address core needs for all players

View detailed explanation of each factor