U9 Pathway (Dofasco Minor Hockey)


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U9 (Novice) Player Pathway - (Information taken from the Alliance Website)

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.

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!

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. The Initiation Program is based on providing the five and six-year-old the skills to begin to enjoy hockey.

The U9 Player Pathway is both a progression for the five and six-year-old player that participated in the Initiation Program as well as an entry point for other seven and eight-year-old children looking to gain the skills to enjoy hockey.

A minor hockey association's programming at the U9 level will serve as the foundation upon which the team structure of the minor hockey association is built. Youngsters at every level in minor hockey benefit from getting the ‘right start’ in the game. Programming at the U9 level is a crucial piece in building the skills of house league and rep team players alike.

"Learning the basic skills at a young age will set the foundation for everything a player will accomplish in the game of hockey.” Corey McNabb, Director of Hockey Development Programs, Hockey Canada.

Novice Program Manual


Programming should be delivered through a progressive learn-to-play teaching curriculum that spans the seven to eight-year-old age group. Children learn best through participating in practice drills and sessions as well as informal and modified games such as shinny, freeze tag and obstacle courses.

The program consists of four levels of instruction, designed specifically for young hockey players. Each level consists of a series of practice plans (lesson plans) that follow a defined path of progressions.

The skills of skating, puck control, passing and shooting are introduced and refined in a progressive one-step-at-a-time manner.

Although the emphasis is on fun and skill development, hockey at these ages should also allow youngsters to experience fitness, fair play and cooperation.

To ensure a positive experience for the children, a coaching clinic has been designed for the on-ice coaches that focuses on communication, teaching skills, leadership, skill analysis, lesson organization, and safety and risk management.

Program Philosophy

  • Hockey Canada developed the program to ensure that the child’s early experiences with hockey are delivered in a safe and positive experience.
  • The program enables participants to become contributing members of a team effort, develop self-confidence and experience a sense of personal achievement.

Program Goals

  • To have fun while playing hockey and engaging in physical activity.
  • To learn the fundamental skills required to play the game of hockey.
  • To develop and refine basic motor patterns.
  • To be introduced to the concepts of cooperation and fair play.