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Better Athlete, Better Player

Multi-sport hockey players are far more likely to achieve their elite aspirations in junior hockey and beyond over a player who only participates in hockey 10-12 months in a year!

Sport Canada’s Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Resource Paper “Canadian Sport for Life” sets out a framework for sport development in Canada. To meet the goals of the LTAD, Hockey Canada and it’s provincial branches developed a hockey-specific model to foster better athletic development of our players. The Hockey Canada Long-Term Player Development (HC-LTPD) is a model based on the physical, mental, emotional and cognitive development of children and adolescents. Each stage reflects a different point in developing the athlete.

Hockey Canada Long-Term Player Development

Discovery - Male & Female 0-4

This is an important period for acquiring fundamental movement skills (running, gliding, jumping, kicking, catching...) that lay the foundation for more complex movements, thereby preparing children for a physically active lifestyle. Hockey Canada encourages children to begin skating at an early age through Discovery Hockey Programs.

FUNdamentals - Male & Female 5-6

The focus is on the development of physical literacy. Fundamental movements skills should be mastered and motor development emphasized, and participation in many sports/activities is encouraged. For optimal skill acquisition, the basic hockey skills of skating and puck control are introduced through the Initiation Program. FUN competitions are also introduced in a team environment.

Learn to Play - Male & Female 7-8

During this period players continue to develop motor skills and coordination. Practice sessions should be help twice a week during the season. Ongoing participation in compatible sports is strongly encouraged. The Novice Skills Program is designed to promote the continued development of physical literacy, fitness, and the basic skills required to play hockey.

Learn to Train - Male 9-12 Female 8-11

This is the most significant period for development. This is the window of accelerated adaptation to motor coordination. Group interaction, team building and social activities should be emphasized. A reasonable balance of practices and games will foster the ongoing development and mastery of essential skills in hockey. 

Train to Train - Male 12-16 Female 11-15

The focus during this stage is on building an aerobic base, development speed and strength and further developing and consolidating sport specific technical skills with an increased emphasis on hockey and a reduction in the number of other sports played. This phase will also include the introduction and development of individual and group tactics. Social and emotional considerations are addressed by placing an emphasis on team-building, group interaction and social activities.

Train to Compete - Male 16-17 Female 16-18

During this stage athletes will participate in training with a focus on position specific technical and tactical preparation. There is as emphasis on fitness preparation and the development of position specific technical and tactical skills under competitive conditions. Important objectives are the development of aerobic capacity, power, self awareness and independence. The athlete may be introduced to international competitive experience at the end of this stage.

Train to Win - Male 18-20 Female 18-22

During this stage the athlete's physical, technical, tactical (including decision-making skills), mental, personal and lifestyle capacities are fully established and the emphasis in training has shifted to the maximization of performance. High performance sport specialist support is optimized, as is fitness and medical monitoring. Modelling all possible aspects of training and performance.

Excel - Male 21+ Female 22+

It is at this stage that all systems, including physical preparation, testing or monitoring and others which are supportive in nature are fully maximized and refined to ensure excellence at the highest competitive levels (i.e. the Olympic Games and World Championships). Athletes continue to enjoy competition and training at the highest level with a focus on maintaining or improving technical, tactical, physical, and ancillary capacities.


Below are athlete development outlines by age division to give associations, coaches, players, and parents an indication of what we all need to do in order to optimize athlete development for our players: