U9 Advanced Development Program
Minor hockey at the U9 (8 year old) age group has evolved significantly over the past 5 years.
Previously known as "Novice", this age once operated with the same season structure and focus as all older age groups, including rep seasons that focused on full-ice games and typically offered a practice to game ratio of 1:1.
The game is ever-changing, and Hockey Canada's U9 Player Pathway has brought significant change to the U9 age group over the past several years.
GMHA's U9 ADP Program has a capacity of 54 players. If interest exceeds capacity, players will be selected for teams based on their current level of skill and readiness to participate.
- As of the 2022-2023 season there is no longer any rep hockey at the U9 age.
- Practice to game ratios are targeted to be 2:1 or even 3:1 where possible.
- Games are limited to half-ice as a more appropriate space for young players to use their skills.
- The season progresses through the stages of evaluation, development, game play, and season-end.
- Participation in accelerated programs is encouraged to be desire-based instead of ability-based.
ADP and Other GMHA Programs
The Advanced Development Program is an accelerated development program that provides interested players and families with a higher-frequency option for hockey at the U9 age.
Here is a visual representation of where the ADP fits into GMHA's program offerings:
In alignment with Hockey Canada's U9 Player Pathway, the U9 ADP season is organized as follows:
Preparation / Evaluation (4 weeks)
Players participate in skills practice to re-engage in the sport after the summer (preparation) and then be organized into groups for skill development (evaluation). There are a total of 8 sessions over 4 weeks that serve to get U8 players skating together and organize groups for the season while older age groups go through fall tryouts.
Development (6 Weeks)
The early portion of the season is focused heavily on skills development. Ice time is dedicated to station-based skills practices, power skating, and small area games. GMHA will include competition and special "Game Days" into the schedule to ensure that players have some more formal games to look forward to.
NOTE - The specific length of this phase of the season depends on the schedule of games that are organized by the Tri-County Minor Hockey League, and will be adjusted once the TCMHL announces formal plans for the season.
Regular Season (16 Weeks)
GMHA programs and teams at the AA level and below participate in the Tri-County Minor Hockey League (TCMHL). While rep leagues are no longer offered at the U9 age group, the TCMHL offers organized leagues for U9 teams. These leagues feature games against nearby organizations, with the specific schedule and format to be determined based on TCMHL plans once announced.
The U9 game season is split into 2 halves. The first half (typically through the holidays) features half-ice games. The second half (January on) expands play to full ice as part of the transition to rep hockey at the U10 age.
End Season (4 Weeks)
The final month of the season includes participation in a festival, tournament, or similar event. The TCMHL typically also offers a season-ending event for U8 and U9 programs. The practice format and game structure of the season is also tailored to focus more on game play at this point of the year.
Each week consists of 1-2 skills practices, 1 power skating session, and 1 "game day" session featuring competition and cross-ice or half-ice games. As the season progresses, "game days" are replaced with formal games as part of the league organized through the TCMHL.
The U9 program is structured for 3-4 teams of 18 players, with teams organized by skill level to ensure that players are surrounded by others of like ability. Practice formats combine 2 teams on the ice at a time, with the overall schedule depending on the total enrolment and number of teams.
U9 skills practices are planned and run by the University of Guelph Men's Varsity Ice Hockey program, featuring University of Guelph coaches as on-ice instructors. Parent coaches help to organize the groups and supplement on-ice instruction.
Power skating sessions are taught by a specialized power skating coach, with a focus on proper instruction of skating technique AND repetition in drills.
Game / League Formats
GMHA's U9 ADP groups will participate in leagues organized by the Tri-County Minor Hockey League. More details will be made available closer to the season once they are received from the TCMHL.
All players in the U9 Advanced Development Program must register for the Guelph Minor Hockey U9 season and pay the base registration fee for the age group.
Those players who go on to participate in the Advanced Development Program will also be required to pay an additional "ADP Fee" for the season that covers ice-time, professional coaching, and game play that goes above and beyond the base U9 offerings (U9 House League).
The specifics of the U9 program and the fee will be provided as part of a special information session so that families can decide if they would like their player to participate.
**Please Note: Program pricing, and structure are subject to change annually. This is a rough guideline of what to expect in terms of a breakdown for the season**