Director of Physical & Health Education Teacher Education (P/HETE), Sport Studies, & Coaching Programs, Department of Kinesiology, Canisius College
NYS AHPERD President
The first goal of this trifecta occurred by chance when my wife and I registered our four young children (ages 4-5) in many beginner youth sport programs like soccer, baseball, swimming, ice hockey, golf, dance, and lacrosse. As proud parents, the opportunity to see our children learn about new ways to be active was certainly priceless, but not without our fair share of frustrations for two physical and health educators (yes, my wife is too). Classic errors in engagement would best describe the practices we witnessed including poor instruction, unclear teaching cues, fragmented session flow, and developmentally inappropriate tasks that could easily be rectified with key pedagogical features of GBA like representational modifications and/or small-sided games. Indeed, many novice coaches would face similar criticism from parents trained in PE, nevertheless, my ribs are still bruised from my wife's elbow as she lamented: “Can you believe they are doing this?”; “Look at all of them standing around?”; or “These children cannot understand or play the game yet!”
Thankfully, we both survived the experience and have since moved on to a new stage of our children’s sport participation. As a former ice hockey player/coach myself, I was proud that two of my children chose (probably forced) to play the game so near and dear to my heart. With this decision however, also came pressure for me to volunteer and help coach. Kicking and screaming, I agreed and have been coaching both children since. As a result and much like other youth sports in the United States, volunteer coaches in ice hockey are required to register with USA Hockey. This association performs background checks and mandates all coaches complete a series of training workshops. During this process, I was pleased to see that USA Hockey has adopted what is called the American Developmental Model (ADM). The ADM “is an athlete-centered, coach-enhanced, administrator-supported framework that aims to help all individuals realize their athletic potential and utilize sport as a path toward an active and healthy lifestyle” (What is the ADM?, n.d.).
This is exciting and reinforces the work of Drs. Harvey, Light, Pill and others who have taken the original concepts of GBA in PE and applied them to the coaching sphere. USA Hockey’s ADM is an extension of these efforts and is underpinned by the many guiding principles from GBA. Skill fundamentals like skating, stick-handling, and shooting are embedded within open learning environments that mirror game-like conditions. For example, all children nine years old and under are required to play cross-ice instead of the full ice version. This is a representational modification from TGFU originators Bunker and Thorpe that provide children with more skill repetition and engagement while still preserving many aspects of the game of hockey. As a result, cross-ice hockey allows both beginners and advanced children to experience successes and failures in a safe learning environment—a feature not only pertinent to GBA—but a fundamental premise of the physical literacy construct itself.
At the same time, the ADM embraces other representational modifications like small-sided games (2 vs. 2; 3 vs. 3; or 4 vs. 4) that simulate many authentic components of the game of hockey. Similarly, ADM strategies are not only for younger children, but are applicable to athletes of all ages. Ice hockey, like many other invasion games, is often contended within smaller areas of the larger ice surface itself. This is critical for children to learn at any age and lends to another GBA principle—exaggeration. Constraining young hockey players within a confined space on the ice in a 3 vs. 2 or 4 vs. 3 simulation teaches the importance of movement with and without the puck in creative and innovative ways. Coaches who also include inquiry and questioning throughout practice and/or small sided tasks (sometimes a challenge in an ice rink) provide another layer of discovery and learning for his or her athletes.
Overall, the opportunity to coach my own children (and others) the game I love while bridging my own professional interests in pedagogy has been very rewarding. From an intentional context—goal two of the GBA Hat-Trick—resulted not only in this current piece, but also a recent publication (Seymour & Reeds, 2018) that urges coaches to adopt many key pedagogical (TGFU) principles utilized in PE. Lastly, I am excited to complete the GBA Hat-Trick by exploring new research endeavors with these models moving forward in both PE and sport pedagogy.
Seymour, C. M., & Reeds, G. K. (2018). Teaching Methods for Coaches — Coaching Methods for Teachers. Strategies . https://doi.org/10.1080/08924562.2018.1515679
What is the ADM? (n.d.). ADM Kids. Retrieved April 2, 2020, from https://www.admkids.com/page/show/910488-what-is-the-american-development-model-