If you want your child to get the right introduction to hockey, learn proper skills, and have the kind of positive experience that will keep them playing, look for a local hockey association or recreation program that follows Hockey Canada’s recommendations for each age.
Following the Long-Term Player Development model (LTPD), Hockey Canada has developed program guidelines for children’s hockey at each of these age levels and stages:
Initiation Program: Children under 7
This introductory program is designed for children aged five to six as of December 31 in their current school year. Proper Initiation programs should focus on skills development in a fun environment, and games should be played on a smaller ice surface appropriate to small children. Read more about Initiation programs at Hockey Canada.
Novice Program: Children under 9
This introductory program is designed for children aged seven to eight as of December 31 in their current school year. Proper Novice programs should focus on skills development in a fun environment, and games are played on a smaller ice surface appropriate to small children. Read more about Novice programs at Hockey Canada.
Atom Program: Children under 11
Atom programs are designed for children aged nine to ten as of December 31 in their current school year. At this age, the skill level of the players and their level of experience determines the team’s seasonal plan for training and competition. Some teams may be more “competitive” than others. While the primary emphasis is still on skills, more training emphasis is put on team tactics and strategy. Read more about Atom programs at Hockey Canada.
Hockey Canada also has general information for parents on the Canadian Development Model (CDM) for player development in Canada.
You can learn more about quality hockey programs at Canadian Sport for Life.