MEMO: Initiation Novice Program

DATE: February 1, 2018

FROM: Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association

TO: Volunteers and Association Members

REGARDING: Initiation Novice Program (INP)


The initiation program format began in the 2016-2017 season. Because it is a different program from those normally offered, with learning being emphasized as opposed to playing (while playing is not necessarily eliminated) there are bound to be doubters and those who favour a more traditional approach. The association must realize this and be prepared to deal with it, and not lose sight of the fact that the program has been designed for the children, not adults.

Growing pains are normal in any new program and when both the participants and most of the instructors are likely to be inexperienced, the program implementation is not going to be as smooth as one would like. However, with commitment, patience and support the results will come and in most cases, exceed everyone’s expectations.

Hockey Canada guidelines for skill development are as follow; Initiation Minor and Major 85% technical skill, 15% individual tactics. Novice Minor and Novice Major 75% technical skill, 15% individual tactics, 10% team tactics. For example, at the Novice Minor and Novice Major level a 1-hour practice should consist of about 45 minutes technical skill 9 minutes individual tactics and 6 minutes team tactics.

With the initiation program, we encourage players to mix when using stations though it is appropriate to split players into groups based on skill and colour of jerseys for “team” style drills, scrimmages, and games. Hockey Canada suggest this time to be 10% or less of practice time at the Novice Level.


BC Hockey has adopted program guidelines and resources to support and provide direction for our Local MHAs to implement and operate a skill development program for players eight (8) years of age and younger. Based on Hockey Canada’s Long Term Player Development (LTPD) model, players who are eight (8) years old and younger should be focusing on having fun, learning skills and developing physical literacy. All programs should adhere to the following principles:

a. The technical curriculum should focus on physical literacy and having fun b. The official playing surface for practices and games shall be reduced to one-half, one-third, or one quarter the size of a regulation playing surface. c. The equipment should be amended to fit the size and skill level of the player. i.e. Mini nets. d. Instructors should be trained in an appropriate manner to teach players of this age and skill level.


Every association building an Initiation Program will have its own unique design. The goal, however, is the commonality of using the curriculum of the Initiation Program and its teaching strategies to build a strong foundation of skills which will allow players to enjoy hockey for a lifetime.

AVMHA has adopted the “Program Design” – In this design, players are kept as one large group and treated/instructed as a whole. This model is characterized by instructors being responsible for all the players in the program rather than only a pre-selected number. During the session the instructors would instruct all the players as they moved though his/her station. Minor “team” games or scrimmages would take place with a random selection of players. These “teams” would constantly change.

The benefits of this design are:

•All players receive equal instruction from a variety of instructors

•Players get to associate with a maximum number of other players on the ice

Instructors have a narrow range of ability to deal with, making it easier for them to give instruction Associations may choose to conduct this design with all players of approximately the same skill level being on the ice at the same time. Games like British Bulldog would be run with the entire group and station work would attend to the curriculum.

For reference purposes the 5 core skills of hockey are:

Skating • Passing • Shooting • Puck Handling • Checking

Example: Teaching a child a breakout, is not teaching core hockey skills. Teaching a child how to skate, and how to pass, so they can break out, is teaching core hockey skills.

More in formation and resource material can be found here:

Hockey Canada https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/hockey-programs/coaching/initiation

BC Hockey http://www.bchockey.net/Content.aspx?id=259

VIAHA http://www.viaha.org/

Initiation Program (Players below Atom Division)

Are you confused about the use of “Cross Ice” play for players ages 5, 6, 7 & 8 years old? Here is a bulletin that explains it in detail.

VIAHA Bulletin – Sept. 17, 2017 – Cross Ice Guidelines

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