Early Positive Experiences: What is Age-Appropriate?


Event Program (12-page PDF)

Roundtable summary report

Hosted at the U.S. Open and sponsored by Nike, the roundtable convened more than 25 leaders and experts to consider the prospects of anchoring the disjointed U.S. sports system in the principles of age-/developmentally appropriate play, with the goal of meeting the needs of today's children -- all of them. The event was the first of four scheduled gatherings through March 2014 focused on how to grow the quality and quantity of youth coaches, given the critical role they play in delivering early positive experiences to children between the ages of 6 and 12 and helping kids create lifelong patterns of health and fitness.

Dialogue outcomes:

• Agreement on the core experience that all kids (recreational and elite) should have
• Momentum for the American Development Model as a model to be embraced across sport silos
• Alignment on the role that physical literacy plays in activating that model
• Support for the U.S. Olympic Committee in taking the lead in promoting that model


Research report on athletic development and children, Project Play report prepared by Mike Sagas, University of Florida’s Sport and Policy Research Collaborative

“The Sports Gene and Why Parents Need to Relax a Little,” Huffington Post column by Tom Farrey (9/3/13)

“Miracle on Ice,” ESPN magazine article on the American Development Model, by Tom Farrey (6/26/13)

What Do We Really Know About Athletic Development in Children? -- Moderated conversation with Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein, author of "The Sports Gene: The Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance"; and Dara Torres, 12-time Olympic medalist swimmer WATCH

Roundtable event photos


9:00am - 9:30am
Welcome, Opening Remarks
Kurt Kamperman, USTA
Nathan Plowman, Nike
Tom Farrey, Sports & Society Program

9:30am – 10:15am
What do we really know about talent development of elite athletes? WATCH
Lead discussant: Chris Snyder, US Olympic Committee
• What role did coaching, PE, other factors play in the development of Olympians?
• How has pathway changed over past generation?
• Why is it important that coaches, coaches, stakeholders know the pathway?
• How does ignorance of the pathway limit the quality, quantity of kid athletes?

10:30am – 11:15am
What do we know about talent development of child athletes? WATCH
Lead discussant: Mike Sagas, University of Florida's Sport Policy and Research Collaborative
• What does the research say about early specialization vs. early sampling?
• What’s the evidence in support of the celebrated “10,000 hours rule”?
• The role of “deliberate play”
• How do we make room for the late bloomers, late adopters?

11:15am – 12:00pm
What is the American Development Model – and how scalable is it? WATCH
Ken Martel, Technical Director, American Development Model, USA Hockey
• What has USA Hockey learned about opportunities, challenges with ADM?
• What’s happening with USOC and other NGBs in terms of adopting ADM?
• How can NGBs push ADM down pipeline?
• Do sport bodies outside the Olympic family want to embrace ADM?

12:15pm – 12:30pm
How should “physical literacy” fit into a broadly-embraced model? WATCH
Colin Hilton, President and CEO, Utah Athletic Foundation
• What exactly is the definition of physical literacy, and what are its components?
• Should we adopt the goal of making every US child physically literate by age 12?
• What do we want to adopt from Canadian model of physical literacy?
• What is the appropriate ask of sport organizations, schools, other providers?

12:30pm – 1 pm
Next steps
Tom Farrey, moderator, and Ginny Ehrlich, Clinton Health Matters Initiative


Jessica Aney
2010 SI Kids “SportsKid of the Year”
Nationally-ranked hockey player
Nationally-ranked USTA member

Tom Aney
Father of Jessica Aney

Tom Avischious
Field Services Director
USA Swimming

Andrea Cernich
Aspen Institute

Jay Coakley
Professor Emeritus
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Peter Davis
Sport Performance Management

Kristen Dieffenbach
Associate Professor
West Virginia University
And, President-Elect
National Council for the Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE)

Ginny Ehrlich
Clinton Health Matters Initiative

Tom Farrey
Director, Sports & Society Program
Aspen Institute

Tim Flannery
Director of Coach Education
National Federation of State
High School Associations

Barry Ford
Director, Public Affairs and Advocacy

Dan Gould
Director, Institute for the Study of Youth Sports
Michigan State University

Dr. Brian Hainline
Chief Medical Officer

Colin Hilton
President & CEO
Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation

Sue Hunt
Chief Marketing Officer

Andrea Jaeger
Former No. 2 Tennis Player
Little Star Foundation

Dr. Neeru Jayanthi
Medical Director
Primary Care Sports Medicine
Loyola University Medical Center

Kurt Kamperman
Chief Executive, Community Tennis

Ken Martel
Technical Director,
American Development Model
USA Hockey

Javier Perez
Head Coach,  U.S. U-18 Men’s National Team
U.S. Soccer

Shellie Pfohl
Executive Director
President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

Nathan Plowman
Partnerships Director
Access to Sport, North America
Nike, Inc.

Dean Riddle
SPARQ Performance Network
Nike, Inc.

Jeannette Rodriguez
NY Partnerships and Programs
Nike, Inc.

Sharon Roerty
Senior Program Officer
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Paul Roetert

Michael Sagas
Professor and Department Chair
Dept. of Tourism, Recreation and Sports Management
Sport Policy and Research Collaborative (SPARC)
University of Florida

Deborah Slaner Larkin
Past Executive Director
USTA Serves

Mara Smith
Founder, Principal

Chris Snyder
Director of Coaching Education
United States Olympic Committee

Dara Torres
12-time Olympic Medalist

Annie Warner
Nike, Inc.

Robyn Winans
Nike, Inc.

Nanette Yang
Steel Sports