Information from Hockey Canada for Atom (U11), Minor Atom (U10), and Novice (U9) for 2020-2021
Hockey Canada has announced changes for the 2020-2021 season for the Atom (U11), Minor Atom (U10), and Novice (U9) age groups. These changes outline new regulations on how hockey programs will be delivered at these age groups.
The OMHA has approved to continue AAA at the Novice (U9) level for the 2020-21 season. Nothing has changed from what it was for the 2019-20 season in the structure.
For Atom (U11 & U10)
Below are some links (both from the OHF and OMHA) that go over the changes coming from Hockey Canada down through the OHF and the OHMA.
Implementation for the 2020-2021 Season
All U7 (Initiation), U11 (Novice) and U11 (Atom) players within Hockey Canada programming will be playing the entirety of next hockey season with the implementation of the U11 (Atom) Player Pathway.
Starting in the 2020-2021 season minor hockey players, including those in the Ontario Hockey Federation’s Member Partners ALLIANCE, GTHL, OMHA, NOHA and the OWHA will be following the U11 (Atom) Player Pathway.
Player Pathways, as we have seen with U7 (Initiation) and U9 (Novice) Programming are progressive, learn-to-play development guides that support the player development continuum from U7 (Initiation) through to U11 (Atom). The Pathways outline optimal seasonal structures and age appropriate development guidelines.
The U11 (Atom) Player Pathway consists of a policy and recommendations focused on the appropriate development for 9 and 10-year-old players. The U11 (Atom) Pathway delivers a number of benefits to participants and their families including creating a positive experience during evaluations by providing planned pre-evaluation ice sessions, avoiding evaluations the first week of school, and allowing all U11 (Atom) players to be actively playing for 100% of the season.
U11 (Atom) Player Pathway Policy (must be followed for the 2020-21 season):
1. No evaluations from March through August. Preparation phase can begin the Tuesday following Labour Day.
Benefits: This process gives minor hockey associations and parents back their summer. The season doesn’t need to start this early only to be finished at the end of January or February; instead, it should start later and also end later. This also allows minor hockey associations a chance to get organized and begin planning.
2. No evaluations the first week of school where school starts the week after Labour Day.
3. Must offer a minimum of 4 practices / skill sessions prior to formal evaluations beginning.
Benefits: A player’s first experience in the new hockey season should not be a formal tryout - this gives all players the opportunity to get back on the ice in a more ‘player-friendly’ scenario before being evaluated. Minor hockey associations will have the opportunity to run their own prep camps instead of members spending money outside the association.
4. Must have a minimum of 3 formal evaluation sessions – Recommended - 1 skills session, 1 small area games session, 1 game.
Benefits: Players need a fair chance to be evaluated – a standardized process will show transparency, fairness, and consistency. This also provides coaches with the foundation for a development plan based on a solid and quantifiable evaluation.
5. Teams must have a period of development time following team selection and prior to the start of the regular season.
Benefits: It is very important to provide coaches with the opportunity to develop and improve their players skills prior to getting into organized games. The progression should be skills before tactics and tactics before systems.
6. Playoffs must be tournament style playoffs versus elimination rounds.
Benefits: This gives all teams the chance to play to the same end point in the season. All players deserve the same chance to play to the end of the year, with more teams and more players playing longer into the season. This also allows more rest and recovery within the season and the regular season schedule can be spread out. In addition to providing a greater opportunity for players to participate in different activities.
7. Fair/equal ice time (goalies rotate for equal games/playing time through season and playoffs)
Benefits: Fair and equal ice time is designed to ensure that all players get the same opportunity to contribute to the outcome of games, regardless of skill or ability. A coach’s responsibility is to develop all players to contribute. Shortening of the bench is not permitted. All players should receive fair and as close to equal as possible ice time, including equal opportunities on special teams.
8. Limit position specific specialization (except goalies), All skaters are to rotate through all positions to ensure each player has the opportunity to try out each position (forward – LW/C/RW and defence ‐LD/RD) at least once.
Benefits: Players may determine that they wish to be a full-time goaltender, but it is important for all players to learn the fundamentals of every position for the overall development of the player.
U11 (Atom) Pathway Recommendations (Members should encourage and support):
- Season should allow for two (2) seasonal breaks (not including Christmas / long weekends) comprised of 5 days where no scheduled games or mandatory practices take place.
- Recommended maximum of 45 games per year (including tournaments and playoffs).
- Small Area Games in practice / Station based practices
- Ideal Seasonal Structure:
- Preparation/Evaluation Phase: The period of time prior to the season starting. Please see numbers 1 through 4 in Policy. (Up to 4 weeks)
- Development Phase: The period of time following tryouts prior to the regular season starting. (Up to 4 weeks, 8-12 practices, 2 exhibitions games)
- Regular season: The period of time from the first regular-season game to the start of playoffs (Up to 24 weeks, 22-44 practices, 16 to 20 games)
- Playoffs: The period of time from the end of the playoffs to the start of the next Preparation/Tryout Phase. Commencing after March 15. Up to 4 weeks. Must have tournament-style playoffs.
- Offseason Phase: This refers to the period of time from the end of the playoffs to the start of the next Preparation/Tryout Phase.
With the implementation of the U11 (Atom) Player Pathway, Hockey Canada has made key changes to the Player Pathways at U9 (Novice) and U7 (Initiation) that will create consistency in all programming across the country and a seamless transition for players from U7 (Initiation) through to U11 (Atom) based on Long Term Player Development.