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Lights Coach Attends USA Hockey's Player Development Symposium
By Eric Pumiglia

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend USA Hockey’s Youth Player Development Symposium.  The symposium was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and focused on the American Development Model (ADM) USA Hockey has begun to implement in recent years.   The ADM is based on age-appropriate methods to increase hockey player’s skill, long term interest and fun while participating.  Fun being the most significant factor as the amount of fun a player is having correlates with their ability to learn.

While at the symposium, I attended numerous presentations, demonstrations and also actively participated in a practice.  These sessions were taught by a diverse group of experts.  Former NHL and NBA players served as educators, as well as International and USA Hockey program officials, youth athletic specialist and other US and International sports leaders. Educational sessions served not only to instruct the coaches on USA Hockey’s ADM, but also to understand why the model is being used. 

The ADM is grounded in long term athletic development.  USA Hockey studied both the physiology and psychology of youth sports to appropriately develop the age group specific models.  Also taken into account is the development of players as athletes, as opposed to solely hockey players.  The ADM emphasizes developing the player “ABC’s”.  ABC stands for agility, balance and coordination, the foundation of athletic development across all sports.

The sessions proved to be extremely informative and inspirational in continuing to develop young athletes.  From the sessions, the main takeaways were:
  • Focus on long term athletic development, not short term game performance
  • Youth athletic ability develops differently among children.  As coaches and parents, we need to reward and develop all of our players, not just those with early physical development or perceived skills
  • The importance of using age-specific models to develop players.  Included in this are smaller playing and practice areas, drills emphasizing repetition in skill development, but vary in technique. 
  • Kids want, need and must, touch the puck, skate in small areas and be fully engaged in practice throughout practice to have fun and develop continued learning and love for the game of hockey.
Many parents will already recognize CT Northern Lights’ commitment to the ADM in both our practices and participation in cross ice game play among lower level teams.  We will continue to educate ourselves and leverage the tremendous resources of USA Hockey to develop our players and foster the love of the game.  I look forward to delivering a knowledge transfer session for all lower level NLGH coaches and work with CT Northern Lights’ leaders to implement additional ADM principles that will amplify skill progression and create sustainable interest, enjoyment, and long term athletic development  for our players. 

And as an added bonus to my experience, I was able to meet the General Manager and Coach of my favorite NHL team, the Pittsburgh Penguins!

Check out some more photos of Eric's trip to Pittsburgh here.