Changing the structure of youth sports
For years, athletic associations across the nation have been structured by age. But what happens when kids develop at a different rate? This is often the issue for football players, where injuries are a major concern. But football leagues may be able to learn something from the American Development Model, used for long-term development for youth hockey players.
ADM is broken down into three building blocks: play, love and excel. Athletes must first learn how to play the game by learning the basic skills needed to succeed and know the game. The first sector of this learning model places little emphasis on winning.
Once children learn how to play, they will either decide that it is not right for them or that they will develop a love for the game. This is the stage where practice and games become a priority and skills are fine-tuned.
The last stage of the development model is where athletes learn to excel in the sport and master the skills they have learned. By this stage, players are very serious about the sport and it begins to take a higher priority over other things.
While this model is only used in hockey currently, football players can especially benefit from a structure such as this.