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Novice Hockey :: For Parents

How a player gets their initial taste of hockey is crucial. The first few years of hockey must be a positive experience full of fun and excitement. That is the goal of the Hockey Canada Novice Program.

If the beginner has fun, develops basic skills and builds confidence, there is a better chance they will go on to enjoy hockey for a lifetime. But if a young player has an unhappy, unrewarding experience, they may quit at an early age and never discover the real joy of Canada's game. Every young player should have the opportunity to enjoy hockey for life!

Almost all local minor hockey associations organize house leagues and/or representative teams. But more and more minor hockey associations are also delivering age-appropriate programming. It is obvious that unprepared young players who are put directly into playing the adult version of the game are at a distinct disadvantage to youngsters who have had the benefits of experiencing progressive skill development.

The goal of Hockey Canada is to see the day when every youngster across Canada getting started in hockey will have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from a program designed to meet their specific needs. One that ensures progressive skill development through well-delivered practice sessions and age-appropriate game play in an environment well-suited to their skill level.

A minor hockey association's programming at the Novice level will serve as the foundation upon which the entire minor hockey association is built. Youngsters at every level in minor hockey benefit from getting the ‘right start’ in the game. Programming at the Novice level is a crucial piece in building the skills of house league and rep team players alike.

More than 30 years ago, Hockey Canada developed the Initiation Program to ensure a fun, safe and positive hockey experience. It served as a structured, learn-to-play program designed to introduce beginners to basic skills. It also enabled young players to build a solid skill base and become contributing members of a team effort, develop self-confidence and experience a sense of personal achievement – goals achieved in an atmosphere of fun and fair play.

Dating back to 1995, Hockey Canada passed a motion requiring the Initiation Program to be implemented by every minor hockey association across the country and to change their constitution/bylaws to reflect the creation of a new division in hockey.

Long-Term Player Development Model

Parents and coaches need to think long-term and not worry too much about children being the best player on the ice in Novice hockey. Research has proven that putting young players into a competitive environment too early will compromise their development. Children should only be placed into competitive situations that suit their skill level and abilities.

It is important to fully understand and appreciate the benefits of cross-ice and half-ice hockey and why Hockey Canada has a national policy ensuring all Initiation and Novice hockey is played in smaller, modified spaces.

An illustration of very simple statistics illustrates highlight the advantages to the smaller surface games model.

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