Driving Football’s Future in Your Community: 22 Leaders, 1 Football Development Model

By USA Football

The 21st century’s game plan for football is coming together with the goal of building better people and better players. The Football Development Model (FDM), launching in 2020, will work as a roadmap for youth leagues nationwide, reimagining how we coach, play and experience the game at every level.

Young players in FDM-embracing leagues – your feeder programs — will learn the sport in exciting, developmentally appropriate stages that emphasize the fun of football while gaining fundamental skills and improving athleticism. Crafted with help from leaders across football, sports science and medicine, the model offers a framework and path to excel on the high school level. The FDM is built on the following pillars:

  • Whole Person & Multi-Sport Development
  • Physical Literacy & Skill Development
  • Coach Education & Training
  • Multiple Pathways & Entry Points
  • Fun & Fulfilling
  • Participation & Retention

Those pillars make up the foundation and guiding principles of the FDM. However, structuring the curriculum, resources, tools and guidelines requires a variety of skills and expertise. To do that, USA Football assembled the FDM Council.

The FDM Council is comprised of 22 leaders spanning medical, child development and long-term athlete development experts as well as coaches and administrators on the youth, high school, college and professional levels. The Ivy League, Children’s National Hospital, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) are among the organizations represented on the Council.


NCAA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian Hainline serves as the Council’s chairman. The renowned doctor and medical researcher brings experience in building long-term athlete development models like the FDM, which is in alignment with the USOPC’s American Development Model.

“The FDM is an athlete’s roadmap – at any age – to enjoy the fun of football by participating in sport activities that are developmentally appropriate physically, mentally and socially,” Dr. Hainline said. “Part of the model’s forward thinking is that you learn to become an athlete before you learn to become a player. When sports programs adopt the FDM, athletes will perform better, play longer and gain a lifelong path to athleticism, health and wellness through football.”

Just as students have a variety of math options to support their knowledge and abilities, the FDM offers multiple pathways across the sport so players and parents can find the best football fit for them.

“The FDM is a progressive approach for the development and safety of our players as they are learning the game,” said Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens who also serves on the FDM Council. “This is 21st century football that embraces the value of the team experience, fundamental skill instruction and contact reduction in an effort to teach the sport in a smarter and safer fashion.”

Stay in-the-know and encourage your feeder programs to learn more about the FDM by visiting usafootball.com/fdm.