Recently, I have been honored by becoming a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Psychology Registry for the 2013—2016 quadrennium. This has allowed me to see how the National Governing Body and USOC incorporate the American Developmental Model (ADM) in their work with athletes. This model facilitates the emotional, physical, and mental development of the our athletes. All children have the opportunity to “Learn and Discover” (Stage 1), “Develop and Challenge”(Stage 2), “Train and Compete” (Stage 3), “Excel for High Performance, Participate and Succeed”(Stage 4), and “Thrive and Mentor” (Stage 5) relative to their ability and participation in sport. It allows each athlete to reach their “true potential” and benefit from sport participation, which results in a healthy outcome across the athlete’s lifespan.
I encourage everyone to adopt this model in their work with athletes on and off the field. I am a firm believer in developing each athlete to the maximum extent possible. Too often, in my practice, I have witnessed an athlete’s progression thwarted by neglecting their emotional and cognitive development, in favor of physical ability. By only pushing an athlete physically, we will increase burnout, injury and drop-out.
Healthy sport participation at an early age has demonstrated lasting benefits for the emotional, physical, and mental well being in our nation’s youth. Parents, please keep in mind this 5-stage model when thinking about the athletic needs and desires of your athlete. There are no concrete rules for definitive age cut-offs; hence, the reason for overlap in age. Let’s follow this model to cultivate the well being in novice as well as elite athletes. We will all be able to see positive results by engaging the developmental model. This will extend far beyond the playing field and have lasting benefits.
Stage 1- Learn and Discover (Age 0-12)
Stage 2- Develop and Challenge (Age-10-16)
Stage 3- Train and Compete (Age-13-16)
Stage 4-Excel for High Performance, Participate and Succeed (Age 15+)
Stage 5-Thrive and Mentor (Age-For Life)