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Initiation Program

Hockey Canada wants all of Canada on the same page when it comes to the delivery of its Initiation Program – traditionally a player’s first brush with organized hockey at the ages of five and six.

Although the Initiation Program – originally developed more than 35 years ago – always recommended cross- ice or half-ice small-area games, its delivery has varied from community to community. Beginning in the upcoming 2017-18 season, a new Hockey Canada policy now mandates that Initiation-aged players receive age-appropriate programming on cross-ice or half-ice surfaces.


On-ice study: smaller ice surfaces and skating development

In August 2016, Hockey Alberta partnered with Powerscout Hockey and St. Albert Minor Hockey to conduct a study on the effectiveness of smaller ice surfaces in skill development. The study featured 40 Initiation-aged players (five- and six-year-olds) who participated in a series of tests to collect data on a number of game and practice scenarios.

Hockey Alberta has worked with Minor Hockey Association Development Directors over the past couple of years to implement the Initiation guidelines. As part of that process, Hockey Alberta has received feedback that asks whether the smaller surface limits skating development, rather than enhancing it.

With regard to skating development, specific data for skating speed and acceleration was collected from the following scenarios:

• 200-foot sprints
• cross-ice games
• half-ice games, and
• a full ice game.

Overall, an analysis of the data and observation of the on-ice sessions reinforce that using a smaller ice surface at the Initiation level helps in the overall positive development of skating skills and skating acceleration for our youngest players, thereby better preparing them for when they are old enough to move to higher levels of hockey.

To read more about the findings from this study, CLICK HERE.


For more information on the Initiation Program, please contact the appropriate Hockey Alberta Regional Centre Consultant.