Almost any sport you can think of, putting
kids on a surface that’s appropriate for their size, will foster the love of the game that’s
going to be necessary for them to be a life-long player. If you go to a rink and watch five and six
year old playing on full-ice, you’ll see kids standing in the corner for five, ten minutes at a time, not moving, not engaged. The Initiation Program solves all that. The Initiation Program is a program for five
and six year olds to be introduced to the game of hockey through small area games,
and stations. You put them in smaller groups, and their
moving continuously, they’re always touching the puck, and at the end of the day they’re having more fun, which is what the program’s all about. I’d coached Bantam for ten years, and there
were so many skills missing. Struggling with a backhand for instance, not
having long strides, struggling with backwards skating, just fundamental skills that were missing
by the time they were fourteen and fifteen. Towards the end of my coaching Bantam
I decided ‘You know what? I want to go down and work with the younger
kids and put in some of these ideas and see if I can make a change’. When you really focus on those important skills;
your stops and starts, your quick strides, your edge work, your balance, your agility,
your puck control, when you focus on those when they’re four, five, and six years old,
those are the core skills they need to have. Things like trying to get a little more speed
comes naturally once you have those skills. Hockey Canada now has come on board this past
season and it’s been mandated by Hockey PEI that the Initiation Program must be followed
for five and six year olds. The bigger associations have multiple teams,
so they may put three teams on the ice at one time to have around thirty or forty kids
and they’ll run the Initiation Program that way. Then you go to a small association and they may only have twelve or fourteen kids in the whole program… Then you can maximize the ice, bring on other
teams, maybe share ice with nearby associations, give children an opportunity to get on the
ice more times a week if they’re interested, if the parents buy in, and do it for a much
more reasonable cost because you’re sharing that ice. For the 2017-18 season, Hockey PEI has provided
each association dividers that can be used to change up the size of the ice, so coaches,
they’re very easy to use, they’re very light weight, they can be pushed around the ice
very easily and it doesn’t take any time at all. We also use lighter pucks, which is our blue
pucks, and we’re looking at now providing for next year small nets for each association. Hockey PEI offers Coach 1 Intro Clinics that
are specifically geared to those coaches and the five and six year old players who play
at the Initiation Program level, and it’s very important that coaches do get certified
in that program, ’cause its a fundamental part of the overall experience for the player
and making sure the coaches are on the right path as they start that player’s journey into hockey. What this does, is it puts a puck on every
stick, it gives every kid a real opportunity to get much more involved so we’re really
improving the depth of the skill development, whereas before we just didn’t do that. We developed far too few, and the fun
wasn’t there for all of them and I think that’s what this program really does. When the kids feel confident and they have
the skills, that’s when they have fun. They stop having fun when they are never involved,
and they’re never a part of it, and they just feel like they can’t keep up, and that’s where
this program really makes a big difference. For more information on the Initiation Program,
and all its benefits, visit

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