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.
The focus is on the development of physical literacy. Fundamental movement 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 U7 Program. FUN competitions are also introduced in a team environment.
During this period players continue to develop motor skills and coordination. Practices sessions should be held twice a week during the season. Ongoing participation in compatible sports is strongly encouraged. The U9 Skills Program is designed to promote the continued development of physical literacy, fitness, and the basic skills required to play hockey.
This stage is the beginning of the most important window to develop the fine motor skills on an individual technical skill basis that leads to utilizing these skills into individual and team tactics later on. During this phase, prior to the beginning of the growth spurt, players have the best opportunity to learn and begin to master fine motor skills that can be used in combination with other skills. In most cases what is learned or not learned in this stage will have a very significant effect on the level of play that is achieved later on. Players should be able to begin to transfer skills and concepts from practices to games.
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.