WVMHA Long Term Player Development Model

Long Term Player Development meets “a need to better educate parents on the hockey development of their child. It is okay for parents to want their kids to get to the highest levels but they need to know the best way to go about it.”


Long Term Player Development

  •  Is based on the physical, mental, emotional, and cognitive development of children and adolescents. Each stage reflects a different point in athlete development.
  • Ensures physical literacy – upon which excellence can be built
  • Ensures that optimal training, competition, and recovery programs are provided throughout an athlete’s career.
  • Provides an optimal competition structure for the various stages of an athlete’s development.

This model for hockey has been developed based on the following principles:

  • Doing the right thing for the player at the right stage in their development
  • Adopting a player-centered approach and not treating the development of all players the same way.
  • The broader the foundation of players the more successful the game of hockey will be in Canada
  • Viewing player development as a long term process

Hockey is a late specialization Sport – It Takes Players a lot of Years to be Great.  Early involvement in the FUNdamentals stage is essential in late specialization sports.  Specializing before the age of 10 in late specialization sports like hockey can be detrimental to the player.


  • One-sided, sport-specific preparation.
  • Lack of ABCʼs, the basic movement and sports skills.
  • Overuse injuries.
  • Early burnout
  • Early retirement from training and competition


  • Identify your child to a specific position in hockey (defense, offense or goaltender)
  • Focus solely on hockey
  • Encourage your child to play hockey all year round


[1] TECHNICAL SKILLS means the fundamental skills that are required to play the game (e.g. skating, shooting, passing and checking).

[2] INDIVIDUAL TACTIC means Action by one player using one or a combination of technical skills in order to create an advantage or to take away the advantage of an opponent. A tactic may be classified as offensive or defensive (e.g. 1-on-1 offensive fake and driving to the net).

[3] TEAM TACTIC means a collective action of two or more players using technical skills and / or individual tactics in order to create an advantage or take away the advantage of an opponent (e.g. 3 vs.2).

[4] TEAM PLAY SYSTEM means a pattern of play in which the movement of all players is integrated in a coordinated fashion in order to accomplish an offensive or defensive objective (e.g. 2-1-2 forechecking system).

[5] STRATEGY means the selection of team play systems in order to impose upon the opposition, the style of play and tactics which will build on the coach’s, team’s strengths and neutralize those of the opponent while at the same time taking advantage of the opponent’s weaknesses.  For example: when opponent’s defensive players have weak puck handling skills, the strategy might be to shoot the puck in and use a 2-1-2 aggressive forechecking system.










Programming Goals – MHA Centered

What an MHA needs to do to improve:

  • Focus on supporting the complete athlete not just the athlete training and competition.
  • Introduce athletic skills in a systematic and timely way
  • Recommend other sports, cross training methods to get away from hockey and avoid burn out
  • Remove the focus of winning at all levels and age

The most important aspects of Minor Hockey Association development are:

  1. Consistency in the coaching philosophy
  2. Consistency in what the coaches are teaching.

A Minor Hockey Association’s success from a coaching / player standpoint will be based on 3 main aspects:

  1. Enjoyment of players coming to the rink everyday
  2. Improvement of players’ skills
  3. Developing of players to play at the next level

By implementing a standardized technical curriculum and methodology for instruction, your association is building a foundation for athletes to enjoy the game of hockey and reach their potential. While it should be the goal of each team to be successful in their league, the player development process should be at the forefront of each team and this development component must not be compromised.