Bringing the Football Development Model to your Organization

By Jessica Huth | Posted 6/22/2022

The Football Development Model is the approach to youth football. USA Football designed the Football Development Model, otherwise known as FDM, to improve the game and create longevity for the sport. FDM focuses on the long-term development and the holistic philosophy prioritizes the mental, social, and emotional well-being of the athletes. Bringing FDM to your organization will expand the opportunities for you and your athletes. FDM will vary from organization to organization, but the objectives remain constant. 

USA Football created pillars for youth football organizations to reference when implementing this new and innovative approach to coaching. The first being the development of the “whole person”. It is important that coaches understand their responsibility goes beyond coaching, and that their role can directly impact their athlete’s character, values, and mental health. Coaches have the opportunity to teach life skills such as the importance of health and wellness. This along with multi-sport development will enhance the athlete’s growth. USA Football urges children to participate in multiple sports and activities to broaden their skills and interests as they grow up. For your organization this can look like position sampling; allowing athletes to play different positions and learn the different skills associated with those positions.  

The second pillar is physical literacy and progressive skill development. Ensuring coaches provide an intentional practice with warmups, cool downs, and drills that build competence and confidence for athletes. This will allow for athletes to perfect their core skills before reaching middle and high school level teams.  

The third pillar, multiple pathways and entry points, is designed to tailor to organization’s resources and needs. This pillar stems from USA Football’s initiative, “Football for All™” found on The objective of this pillar is to expand football past one pathway and allow for each athlete to choose the type of football they want to play. Offering multiple game types, allows for athletes to perfect the core fundamentals and progress at their skill level and age. Choosing to provide another game type between non-contact and contact allows an entry point for new athletes to learn the game at a level they are comfortable playing. This pillar also includes providing females, for example, with various ability levels the opportunity to play football.  

The fourth pillar is making the game fun and fulfilling for athletes. USA Football believes organizations should allow athletes to fall in love with the game and create friendships with their teammates. The fifth pillar is retention and participation which is the objective of the FDM. USA Football believes in balancing the instruction of fundamental skills with strategy and tactics to keep more athletes participating in football.         

The sixth and final pillar is education and training. This not only includes coach certification, but league leader and parent education. It is important that athletes have the opportunity to play in a safe and meaningful way. USA Football encourages coach certification to ensure that each coach is educated and trained before stepping on the field to instruct athletes each season. USA Football’s coach certification embraces transformational coaching through thought, experience, and reflection.  

USA Football created these six pillars to provide tangible ways for organizations to apply the FDM. Implementing these pillars in your organization, will transform your athletes and the sport as a whole. More children will become involved with the sport and stay involved because of the great experiences they will have. The Football Development Model enables organizations to create well-rounded athletes and human beings.  



Youth football organizations that implement the Football Development Model are committed to improving the game for their athletes. Learn how you can bring the model to your community.