The American Development Model (ADM) is a concerted effort between the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and its National Governing Bodies of sport to apply long-term athlete development principles in a way that resonates with the culture of sport in the United States. By creating early positive experiences across all sports, the model aims to promote sustained sport participation, improve the well-being of future generations in the United States and grow the athlete pipeline.

The USOPC ADM suggests that quality sport experiences should incorporate five key principles, which in turn, will help keep more Americans engaged in sport. 

  1. Universal access to create opportunity for all athletes
  2. Developmentally appropriate activities that emphasize on motor and foundation skill development
  3. Encourage multi-sport participation
  4. Fun, engaging and challenging atmosphere
  5. Quality coaching at all age levels

Read more about the USOC ADM. Additional Parent Resources can be found by visiting the USOPC's For Parents Page
USA Triathlon supports the ADM philosophy and believes that creating early positive experiences for all athletes, and following the stage progressions, the ADM will help keep more children engaged in sport longer.

USA Triathlon is requesting your commitment to the USA Triathlon American Development Model (USAT ADM). Along with other triathlon leaders, your pledge to the foundational principles of the model creates a broad network of advocates supporting the model across multiple aspects of triathlon.By committing to the USAT ADM you are not only a leader in this initiative, but are identifying as part of the long-term athlete development philosophy aligned with USA Triathlon and United States Olympic Committee thought leadership. Take time to learn about the USAT ADM below and consider taking the pledge. 

Click on the stages below in the ADM overview to read through the stage summaries. For more information on gender differences in sport development

Download the USA Triathlon ADM Stage Summary.  

  • Stage One: Active Start

    Early development period focused on fundamental movement through informal experiences and play. Skill acquisition and coordination acquired through running, jumping, kicking, and the introduction to water safety all lay the foundation for more complex movements to prepare children for a physically active lifestyle.

    Download Stage One Summary, opens in a new tab
  • Stage Two: FUNdamentals

    Continued development and refinement of fundamental movement skills and the beginning of basic sports skills to prepare athletes for more advanced skill development in future stages. Athletes are encouraged to participate in multiple sports and activities to help with development of fundamental movement skills, motor development, and love of sports. For optimal skill acquisition, the basic triathlon skills of swimming and cycling are introduced. Fun participation can also be introduced.

    Download Stage Two Summary, opens in a new tab
  • Stage Three: Learn to Train

    This is an important stage of learning and skill development. Stage includes more accelerated learning of coordination and motor control along with further acquisition of swim and cycling specific skills. Continued encouragement for athletes to participate in multiple sports. Group interaction, team building and social activities should be emphasized. A balance of practices and racing will promote continued development, mastery of skills, and practical application of skills within a race environment.

    Download Stage Three Summary, opens in a new tab
  • Stage Four: Train to Train

    This stage builds on the foundation for sport participation. This includes further development of sports specific skills, introduction to competition, and beginning to emphasize support training to continue development of speed, strength and endurance. Athletes should consolidate sport specific technical skills with an increased emphasis on triathlon specific skills (in the later time period of this stage). Social and emotional considerations are addressed by placing an emphasis on team-building, group interaction and social activities.

    *At this stage, athletes 13+ may consider the draft-legal pathway (see alternative pathway stages).

    Download Stage Four Summary, opens in a new tab
  • Stage Five: Learn to Compete

    This stage prepares athletes for the competitive environment, continues to refine technical skills and the ability to adapt to training and race environments. The focus is on optimizing fitness preparation and to begin to specialize in triathlon specific training individualized to the athlete’s particular needs in skill development, mental preparation, fitness and recovery. Social, emotion and school commitments should continue to be addressed along with mental skills that contribute to performance.

    Download Stage Five Summary, opens in a new tab
  • Stage Six: Train to Compete

    Transfer from the training environment to a competitive environment is the core focus of this stage. Athletes must consolidate technical skills and maintain ancillary skills and underlying physical capacities. During this stage training volume remains high while intensity increases with the importance of competitions. The training season is typically extended and is disciplined and triathlon specific.

    Download Stage Six Summary, opens in a new tab
  • Stage Seven: Train to Win

    The focus of this stage is the stabilization of performance on demand characteristics and excellence within the highest level of performance at the ITU, World Championships and Olympics. This is the final phase of athletic preparation that only a very small minority will achieve.

    Download Stage Seven Summary, opens in a new tab
  • Triathlon for Life

    The final stage focused on making the transition from physically literate and confident triathlete to lifelong participant in the sport. Continued experience with triathlon through group training, racing, and giving back to the sport through volunteerism and coaching. When a positive experience in triathlon has been established in other stages of development, athletes will continue participating and staying involved. 

    Download Stage Eight Summary, opens in a new tab

Download the full USAT ADM poster

USA Triathlon would like to thank the following for their collaboration, partnership and support in the creation and development of the USA Triathlon American Development Model: United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, The Aspen Institute: Project Play, USA Field Hockey, and Christy Lausch.