American Development Model (ADM) and Coaching

WAHA follows USA Hockey’s age-specific skill development in all of its programs. The ADM is a nationwide model for successfully developing American hockey players. It is a tool that will ensure every kid will have the same chance to reach their full potential and succeed. The ADM wants to make coaches aware of what is most important at each stage of a child’s athletic development. We only have so much time with the kids so we need to be efficient and give them what they need most at each stage. This set of guidelines can optimize player development and limit coaches’ frustrations in attempting to teach what kids are least receptive to.

If kids want to truly excel at hockey, they’ll need to learn the right way to play the game; which is to say less emphasis on stats and win/loss records and more focus on learning the technical aspects of the game. Fundamentals and building both physical and mental skills are crucial to success in hockey. These things can’t be learned efficiently during a game — they have to be learned in practice. And practicing the right way is how our kids will be able to unlock their limitless potential.

WAHA has been an early adapter in applying and promoting USA Hockey’s Skill Development and Cross-Ice programs. Sportsmanship, enjoyment, recreation and competition are the major focus of the skill progressions for our youth hockey programs. The skill progressions encourage an environment in which youth players can learn the basic skills, master these skills and have fun while developing a life-long interest in hockey. All WAHA coaches are instructed to follow USA Hockey’s ADM curriculum and are mandated to register with USA Hockey and pass a rigorous background check before being allowed out on the ice with the children.

Coaches and Manager Resources / Links

Coaches Mandatory “to-do” list before going on the ice:

  1. Register on USA Hockey’s web site: Free if you register as in-house coach, manager or volunteer. If you are a travel or high school coach, or play senior hockey, register as player/coach $45. Every year.
  2. Back ground screening: With your USA Hockey number in hand, driver’s license, and social security number, you should be ready to initiate your screening. $25. Every two years.
  3. SafeSport Training online: . Click on ‘Store’…check that you are over 18 and select Ice Manager/Volunteer or Coach. Takes about two hours. At the end of the process you will immediately receive your confirmation number. Please email me the PDF certification. Free. Every two years.

For those who want to advance their coaching knowledge:

1.Finish age based module for age group you are coaching: . $10.00

2.Register for your appropriate Level Training:


No unauthorized person is allowed on the ice without fulfilling above requirements and given specific permission from a WAHA board member.  This includes siblings. 

Training by Skill / Age Level

Travel Hockey

  • Travel Hockey starts at Squirt level
  • Teams are selected by try-outs held in the spring prior to season start
  • Coaches selected by WAHA
  • WAHA’s philosophy on travel hockey is guided by USA Hockey’s ADM – age specific skill development
  • 3 to 1 practice to game ratio
  • Two tournaments per team a year in addition to league play

“Learning to Train”

(Squirts) 10 and under

  • 3 to 1 practice to game ratio
  • Emphasize individual skills
  • Skating and puck handling is the priority
  • Recommend “habits” over systems
  • Implement very basic team concepts

(Peewees) 12 and under

  • Individual skills is still the priority
  • Teach contact confidence
  • Stress agility, quickness, balance, coordination
  • Habits and concepts vs. team systems
  • Development is still prioritized over winning. Winning isn’t everything – preparing to win is.

(Bantams) 13–14 and under

  • First year for body checking
  • Desire and abilities dictate level of participation
  • Develop strength, quickness, agility and flexibility
    -Play other sports
  • Continue individual skill development
  • More team tactics
  • More specific positional skills

“Learning to Compete”

(Midgets) 16 & under; and 18 & Under

  • Development of team awareness in game situations
  • More complex team systems
  • Continue to develop strength, quickness, agility
  • Continue to develop individual skills
  • Play games involving physical contact