American Development Model

Creating positive football experiences for participants at any age and stage of the game

The American Development Model, created by the United States Olympic Committee and first introduced by USA Hockey, serves as a framework for long-term athlete development. USA Football will use a similar blueprint to develop and pilot a new pathway for youth players and coaches. The ADM joins heads up football in USA Football’s ongoing commitment to advancing the sport for millions of young athletes across our nation.

Flag Football Rookie Tackle 11-Player Tackle

Challenges in all Youth Sports

  • Emphasis on score versus player enjoyment
  • Focus on talent identification opposed to skill development
  • Current game structures are not age-appropriate to support development
  • Youth players are coached like mini-adults

Universal Principles of ADM

  • Universal access to create opportunity for all athletes
  • Developmentally appropriate activities that emphasize motor and foundational skills
  • Encourage multi-sport participation
  • Fun, engaging and progressively challenging atmosphere
  • Quality coaching at all age groups

Desired Outcomes of USA Football’s ADM

  • Establish a game pathway for youth football from Flag to Rookie Tackle to 11-player Tackle
  • Deliver a system for player and coach development
  • Create an environment that focuses on player fundamentals
  • Enhance player enjoyment with rule modifications that increase participation


Like other sports, USA Football maintains the integrity of the game while introducing a player pathway.


About the Development Model

A bridge game between flag football and 11-player tackle, Rookie Tackle is designed to introduce young athletes to tackle football. In alignment with the U.S. Olympic Committee’s American Development Model (ADM), USA Football is piloting Rookie Tackle game play this fall as part of a long-term athlete development pathway. This version of football delivers a progression practiced in a variety of sports, including tee-ball to “coach pitch” to “player pitch” in baseball.

About Rookie Tackle

  • Developed by USA Football
  • Bridges flag and 11-player tackle football
  • A clear focus on skill development and fun
  • Players learn multiple positions
  • No special teams or three-point stances
  • Roster limits for greater participation
  • Smaller fields scaled for a youth athlete’s age and skill level

United States Olympic Committee

USA Hockey