Calling the American Development Model (ADM) the road map for developing young athletes and retaining them for lifelong sports participation, three experts in the field offered a progress report during an insightful presentation titled “The Future of Sport and Coaching” on the PGA Forum Stage presented by OMEGA on Wednesday afternoon.
Cliff Snyder, director of coaching for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, joined United States Tennis Association CEO for Community Tennis Craig Morris, and Long Term Athlete Development expert Dr. Steve Norris in demonstrating how the United States is developing a new generation of athletes using the American Development Model.
Snyder set the table for the one-hour presentation by noting that inactivity in youth sports is reaching epidemic proportions, with 26 percent of kids “dropping out” of sports participation by age 12.
“The American Development Model is essentially a playbook to get every kid into the game – and keep them in the game,” noted Snyder. “whether it’s golf, tennis, ice hockey or whatever sport, finding coaches who make it fun is what we’re trying to do with the ADM. We want to give every kid a chance to play sports. It doesn’t have to be playing 18 holes. It can be hitting balls on the range or putting on the putting green, then graduating to playing three holes, six holes or nine holes. If you make the golf course or driving range a place that children love to visit, you’ll have a golfer for life.”
Australia-born Morris used his own family experience as an example of why the ADM model is paramount in preparing youths for a life in whatever sport they choose. When he arrived in the USA four years ago, he and his wife found it highly challenging to find reliable youth programs for his three children.
“We saw some signs along the road for youth sports programs, but we didn’t know who the coaches were. We didn’t quite know where to turn,” said Morris. “When you’re looking at youth sports, it’s incredibly important to appeal to the parents and have well-trained, trusted instructors. In tennis, like in golf, we have found that schools are the most trusted place for kids to try something new. So the ADM is being taught to instructors, or we are educating instructors at the schools to introduce this proven method to their students. Retention is the long-term key. A quality experience will ensure longevity of participation.”
Dr. Norris applauded the PGA of America and other golf associations and entities for embracing the ADM as it develops players of today and tomorrow through programs such as PGA Junior League Golf, the Drive, Chip & Putt and other youth programs dedicated to growing the game.
“The American Development Model is the golden thread that lights the fire of passion in youths and will help cultivate their love for golf and stay involved for the long term,” said Dr. Norris. “The potential is tremendous – from giving us a healthier population to developing the next PGA Professionals and Ryder Cup teams. Providing proper training for young golfers is beneficial to all stakeholders in golf. The number of people who learn the game and play it for the rest of their lives is relatively low, but if we can cultivate interest at a young age, we are training tomorrow’s club members and long-term industry supporters.”