A: The Atlantic District Player Development Program (PDP) is intended to serve two purposes:
As mandated by USA Hockey, we select the top 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old players in our District to participate in USA Hockey National Development Camps.
We offer high-level training and competitive opportunities to dozens of players at the 12, 13, 14 and 15 levels.
Our goal is not to simply put together “All-Star” or “Select” teams; rather, we see ourselves as offering a six-year development program that offers evaluation, exposure, and training to elite players in the Atlantic District.
A: Each year, USA Hockey gives each District a player allotment at the 15, 16, and 17 levels. At 15, our 2018 allotment is 9 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goalies; at 16 and 17, our allotment varies from year to year and from one level to the next based on demographic and performance data. In addition, the National Team staff has an allotment of at-large spots at each level that allow them the flexibility to invite players who were not selected at the District level for various reasons, such as injuries or local allotment limitations.
Players who are selected at the District level or invited by the National Team staff attend the USA Hockey National Development Camp, held in early summer in Amherst, New York. These players are split into teams by camp staff and receive concentrated on- and off-ice training along with the opportunity to compete against their peers. During the week-long camp, players are evaluated by members of the National Team staff and the most promising players are invited to participate in the National Team Development Program (NTDP) Orientation Camp (15) or the National Select Team and NTDP (16 and 17).
A: For the past twenty years, the Atlantic District PDP leadership has sought to broaden the program’s reach and serve as many players as possible. With the understanding that ice hockey is a late-developing sport, we have used the Long-Term Athlete Development Model to provide a growing number of players with exceptional training, exposure to a wide range of high-level coaches, and unique opportunities for travel and competition. Because the Atlantic District is geographically small, yet enjoys a high concentration of hockey professionals, we have been able to expand beyond our historical role as a clearinghouse for local talent and offer unique programs including:
- The Quebec program for 12-year-olds, which gives 54 players the chance to compete at the Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament in February on one of three District-run teams
- Weekend-long tryout camps for 12- 15-year-olds, where player evaluations are supplemented with on-ice and off-ice training and development for up to 84 players at each level
- International training tours to Europe for 14-year-olds
- Independent goalie camps modeled after those run by the National Team
A: Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is a research-based model that has been successfully used around the world to help young athletes reach their maximum potential. LTAD focuses on developing players’ trainable capacities including stamina, strength, speed, skill, and suppleness while educating them in other areas that will affect their athletic achievement including nutrition, academics, and sport psychology.
A: Ultimately, evaluations are at the heart of every PDP program. The staff collects data on each player during every tryout, camp, and tournament. By the time players are 15 years old and vying for limited spots at the National Development Camps, the coaches will have compiled a dossier on each athlete that will be taken into consideration during the evaluation process. However, a player’s body of work is only a small piece of the puzzle and the main criteria we consider when making selections is the player’s performance at tryouts. Evaluators are looking at a player’s current skills relative to his peers, how he performs in the high-pressure environment of tryouts, how he reacts in various situations, how coachable he is, and countless other factors.
The selection process has been fine-tuned over many years to be as objective and unbiased as possible. Final selections are made by consensus among the evaluators and no one person can veto or force a selection. Every youth hockey program in the District is invited to nominate a reliable, knowledgeable coach to be included in the staff.
As with any evaluation process, there is some degree of subjectivity inherent in our player selection process. Additionally, different programs call for different types of players. For example, we are selecting three full teams to attend the Quebec tournament, so when we are making evaluations and selections we are looking to put together a well-rounded group of players who will work well together. Depending on the makeup of the team, we may look for a different type of player to fill the last few spots from one year to the next. On the other hand, we are selecting 17 individual players to attend the USA Hockey National Development Camp at the 15 level so the selection process is focused on identifying highly skilled players who are most likely to succeed in the National Camp environment.
A: The Atlantic District PDP staff consists of volunteers from the NHL, USA Hockey, college, juniors, prep school, and youth hockey. In 2017, the PDP team of coaches and evaluators was comprised of 39 members representing 8 different colleges, 7 preparatory schools, and 10 local youth hockey programs and included five goaltending coaches. Every youth hockey program in the District is invited to nominate a reliable, knowledgeable coach to be included in the staff. The PDP leadership values diversity and regularly solicits new staff members from a variety of backgrounds and affiliations.
A: The Atlantic District has a core staff of long-serving coaches who are responsible for various elements of tryout and camp operations including on-ice, off-ice, and administration. Their dedication and experience is a critical part of keeping the program running smoothly and offering a positive, well-organized, efficient, and productive experience to our players. Each year we supplement our veteran managerial staff with various prep school, college, junior and professional coaches whose sole responsibility is evaluation and selection. Every youth hockey program in the District is invited to nominate a reliable, knowledgeable coach to be included in the staff.
A: Goalies will go through the same evaluation and selection process as the skaters. Our Director of Goaltending and his staff are on hand to thoroughly evaluate goalies at each tryout. In addition, we are adding a Goalie-Only Training & Development Camp on August 4 – 5, 2018 that will be structured according to the model followed a USA Hockey National Camps.
A: No! Hockey is a late-developing sport and there are plenty of players who do are not invited to participate in the PDP at first but who go on to be selected for the program later. Every player has his own unique timeline and path towards long-term success, and we have designed our program to offer multiple identification and evaluation opportunities over the course of six years. We encourage players who are not selected to participate in the 2018-2019 PDP to attend the 2019 Open Tryout for the 2019-2020 season.
A: Your athlete must re-enter the program through the 2019 Open Tryouts. We have a strict allotment of players, and we are unable to add additional players once selections have been made. If a player who is selected chooses not to participate and an additional spot becomes open, we will contact the next player on the depth chart to invite him to join the program.
A: The Atlantic District PDP invites several players who were not selected for the National Development Camp to attend a mini-Festival at Kent State University in August. Several Districts send teams to this event, and it is a great chance for our players to receive top-notch training, face challenging competition, gain exposure to a wide range of coaches and athletes, and build relationships with their peers and Atlantic District PDP staff members.
A: Our 13s and 14s are invited to attend Training & Development Camps that allow us to track their progression while exposing them to high-quality instruction on and off the ice. In 2019, we plan to re-introduce our international travel program for our 14s, where they will gain exposure to a new culture and a new style of training.
A: While the National Development Camps are an excellent way for promising young players to receive exposure, they are only one of many possible paths available to aspiring athletes. Evaluations take place at specific moments in time and only a very small percentage of players who try out are selected. Additionally, some players have skill sets that would not be displayed to their best advantage in the National Camp environment. Scouts are paid to uncover talent and they are very good at their jobs; few high-level athletes finish their youth hockey careers without showing up on anyone’s radar. The best way for your child to gain exposure is to play for a reputable organization whose coaches are well-regarded in the hockey community, where he will have the opportunity to attend a few high-profile tournaments during the season.
A: In accordance with LTAD, the Atlantic District PDP recognizes the importance of family, school, and other sports and activities. However, given the competitiveness of the process, space limitations, and budgeting and logistical concerns, attendance at all tryouts and camps is mandatory.
With respect to tryouts, it is obviously impossible for our staff to evaluate a player relative to his peers if he is absent from tryouts, and his body of work cannot be the only criteria by which he is assessed. It is unfair for a player to try out and take a spot at one of our District Training & Development Camps if he cannot attend, because there are literally dozens of players who would welcome the opportunity to be a part of the program.
Parents may contact the PDP if there are extraordinary circumstances, such as an injury, that prevent a player from attending tryouts or camps. Depending on the circumstances we may or may not be able to make accommodations, but we will at least have the cause of the player’s absence on record going into the following year’s tryouts.