The Lacrosse Athlete Development Model (LADM) offers a new framework for teaching and exposing the game to youth players. Utilizing concepts like small-sided play, skill development, and physical literacy, the goal is to keep more players engaged with the sport for a longer period of time.

The program states its goal as “providing kids with the right lacrosse experience at the right time.”

“LADM is based on the physical, cognitive and other developmental needs of youth players,” says TJ Buchanan, technical director for athlete development at US Lacrosse. “It’s about giving kids the appropriate lacrosse for where they are.”

The LADM model revolves around six core values:  designed for development, coach training, multi-sport participation, physical literacy, fun and kid centered, and small sided-and free play. 

Starting kids with general movement skills, rather than lacrosse skills, is part of the LADM plan.

“Kids develop different skills at different times, so they need to practice skills such as jumping, skipping, hopping, running, throwing, and catching. All of these things need to happen before they can create more complex motor plans to perform sports and other athletic activities,” says Emily Coates, a pediatric physical literacy specialist with MedStar Sports Medicine.

Buchanan and Coates recently shared their thoughts about the Lacrosse Athletic Development Model in a new video produced as part of the US Lacrosse/MedStar Sports Medicine Health & Performance Series.

“Youth sports are at a bit of a crisis point right now,” Buchanan says. “When we look at how we train athletes, it’s really important that we don’t just focus on the lacrosse specific movements, but we also teach them how to use and move their bodies. There’s a better way for our kids to learn”

Some studies report that as many as 70% of youth drop out of all sports by age 13. The number one reason cited is that it ceases to be fun. Applying adult training methods to youth who are not prepared for that type of activity contributes to the attrition.

“The evidence we are seeing from some of our early (LADM) adapters is that kids are having fun,” Buchanan said. “And that’s what youth sports are about.”

Video Resources

The Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse seeks to expand, broaden and elevate the safety initiatives that the national governing body has been committed to since its creation in 1998.

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