USA Hockey Helps Squirt Players to Learn to Train
Keeping players ages 8 to 12 motivated to train can be a daunting task for even the most motivational parents and coaches. Additionally, the stress of regular training can be very taxing on growing bodies. Because of this, as part of their American Development Model, USA Hockey has created the Learn to Train program for this age group. The program creates guidelines and outlines special considerations to ensure that young players not only have fun while training, but are also doing so in a safe manner.
USA Hockey’s American Development Model has created specific guidelines for player developmental stages. The following article outlines the Learn to Train stage, which focuses on girls ages 8 to 11 and boys 9 to 12.
The objective of the Learn to Train stage is to refine overall sport skills and develop sports specific skills.
General Description of the Learn to Train stage – This is the period of accelerated learning of coordination and fine motor control and is the critical stage for the acquisition of hockey skills. At this stage participants are developmentally ready to acquire the sports skills that are the cornerstones of all athletic development.
In late specialization sports such as ice hockey, early specialization can be detrimental to later stages of skill development and refinement of the fundamental sports skills. Participants should develop a solid base in a variety of sports in each of the physical literacy environments (e.g. swimming, athletics, gymnastics & skiing/ skating). Club to club competitions should be introduced but they should not be the main focus of the program.
USA Hockey’s key focus for this stage:
- Continue to develop physical literacy
- Continue to participate in three complimentary sports
- Participants at this stage should learn solid basic skills in skating and puck control
- There is no need at this stage to specialize at a specific skater position, however goalies may begin to focus on their position
Editor’s Note: For more information on USA Hockey’s Learn to Train Stage, please click here (pdf).