U7 / U9 Pathways
PCAHA is excited to announce that starting in the 2023-2024 season it will be aligning with Hockey Canada!s U7 and U9 Pathways. The rest of Canada is already following this model of having U6/7 and U8/9 combined.
The first years of hockey need to be a positive experience. A fun and exciting start gives young
players the opportunity to enjoy hockey for life! If a beginner has fun, develops basic skills, and
builds confidence, there is a better chance they will enjoy playing the game of hockey. But if the early experience is unrewarding, they may never discover all that Canada’s game has to offer.
U7 and U9 hockey should be delivered through a progressive, learn-to-play teaching curriculum. Children learn best through practice drills and skill sessions, as well as informal games such as shinny, freeze tag and obstacle courses.
The skills of skating, puck control, passing and shooting are introduced and refined one step at a time. The focus should always be on fun and skill development, but the early years of hockey should also allow youngsters to experience fitness, fair play, and cooperation.
Hockey Canada wants every Canadian youngster to 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 suited to their skill level.
U7 and U9 hockey serves as the foundation upon which the entire hockey experience is built. It is a crucial piece in building the skills of players at every level – players benefit from getting the "right start in the game."
U9 & BELOW PROGRAMMING MODEL AND STRUCTURE FOR 2023-24 SEASON
The Pyramid has been the sporting model for generations. A wide base of new participants narrows quickly, and only the elite competitors climb to the top of the pyramid.
TODAY'S BROKEN MODEL
THE PYRAMID DOES NOT MAKE ROOM FOR ALL CHILDREN
But what about everyone else? The pressure to climb the pyramid, at the expense of long-term participation and well-rounded skill development, has parents, coaches, and program leaders looking for guidance and a different approach. They’ve seen too many kids drop-out, and they’re not alone.
This concern exists in almost every youth sport and the impact is real. Sports participation is declining. Without positive sport experiences, we see less demand for sport programming, fewer opportunities to participate, declining activity, and the absence of valuable life lessons that kids learn through sports.
SPORT FOR ALL, PLAY FOR LIFE MODEL
BROAD ACCESS LEADS TO SUSTAINED PARTICIPATION
*Source - Canadian Sport for Life–Long-Term Athlete Development
A key philosophy in the Canadian Player Pathways at U9 and below is to provide equal opportunity to programming based on the desire of the player versus the skill of the player.
All players regardless of skill level must have the same access to ice if they desire to develop in the Hockey Canada system.
This means that any Association offering Minor Development (MD) or Select in these age groups must provide an equal programming opportunity for any HL/LL player who wishes to participate at that frequency, regardless of that player’s skill level.
If Minor Development (MD) teams receive three (3) ice times per week, HL/LL Players must have the same opportunity to have access to Three (3) ice times per week if they desire.
- Player focused program offering
- More players developing, creating larger talent pool.
- Greater retention of participants.
- Meaningful competition - like-skill players playing against like-skill players
- Better partnerships between Associations in geographic areas.
- Ability to counter entrepreneurial hockey.
Effective the 2023-24 season, Minor Development will be recognized for U9 and Below.
Learn more about the Hockey Canada Player Pathways here: https://www.bchockey.net/players/player-pathway