Organized sports can be a mechanism for children to obtain physical activity in an environment where risks of participation can be controlled. However, research connecting youth sport participation and physical activity is both limited and equivocal.
Sport practices tend to overemphasize skill and competition strategies during instructional time, thereby limiting the efficient use of practice facilities and the amount of time children engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Therefore, although organized sport may create opportunities for children to be active, its full potential as a strategy to increase children’s overall MVPA may be limited by policies that govern the structure and delivery of sport practices. The national governing organization of ice hockey in the United States, USA Hockey, has taken strides to address these limitations with the development and implementation of its American Development Model (ADM), redesigning their practice structure to best utilize facilities and increase the number children participating.
At the 2014 ALR Annual Conference, Michael Kanters, PhD, Professor of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management at North Carolina State University and colleagues presented a paper assessing the physical activity levels and skill development opportunities of children participating in the USA Hockey ADM practices compared to more traditional sport practices.
Findings showed that ADM helped participants achieve high MVPA levels while accommodating 60% more players than the standard coaching model and used a significantly lower player-to-coach ratio. The ADM also appears to minimize time wasted on practice management activities while creating more time for skill practice.