The Associated Press
Pop Warner, the largest youth football league in the country, will be offering USA Football’s American Development Model this year, the first national implementation of the U.S. Olympic Committee-backed program for the sport.
USA Football’s ADM, rooted in skill development for youngsters, provides multiple entry points and game types for the sport. Under USA Football’s recommendation and supporting programs, youth leagues can offer flag football, rookie tackle — a small-sided, modified form of tackle piloted in 2017 — and traditional 11-player tackle.
For Pop Warner to adopt the ADM is a major step in youth football; nearly 200,000 youngsters are enrolled in the organization.
“For us nothing trumps safety and we’re confident the USA Football ADM is going to make the experience safer and more enjoyable,” says Jon Butler, Pop Warner’s executive director.
“With recent changes ... things like eliminating kickoffs for our youngest divisions, limiting contact to 25 percent of all practice time, and requiring clearance from a medical professional certified in concussion management before a player with a suspected head injury can return to play, we make our game better and safer.
“The USA Football ADM will allow kids to experience the sport at their own pace and it will help us with the development of both players and coaches.”
The American Development Model has worked well in several other sports whose national governing bodies, like football, have earned USOC membership. The ADM program has five key areas, all of which can be applied to youth football:
uUniversal access to create opportunity for all athletes. This means no cuts under age 12.
uDevelopmentally appropriate activities that emphasize motor and foundational skills.
uA fun, engaging and progressively challenging atmosphere.
uQuality coaching at all age levels.
ADM will be made available to every Pop Warner organization across the country beginning this fall. The process will begin with messaging to parents, coaches and players about the philosophy of ADM and its role in improving the game.
“We will also make all three game experiences available to every Pop Warner program, which is something we’re quite comfortable with since we already offer both flag and tackle,” Butler said.
“In fact, this past season we piloted USA Football’s rookie tackle program at one of our leagues in Austin, Texas — Hill Country Pop Warner — and received a very favorable response. We have gained experience with all the elements of the ADM and we will encourage our programs to take advantage of it.”
USA Football CEO Scott Hallenbeck has championed his sport’s inclusion of ADM, which has been highly successful in other sports such as ice hockey.
“We’re inspired to continue seeking improvements and innovations for football and its athletes,” Hallenbeck said.
“We strongly believe in football’s American Development Model to offer a smart progression, empowering parents and players with multiple entry points and options to choose from.
“I applaud Pop Warner’s decision to embrace USA Football’s ADM and for encouraging their leagues to make this pathway part of their program.”