U8 Advanced Development Program (Guelph Minor Hockey Association)

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U8 Advanced Development Program

In 2023 the Ontario Hockey Federation recognized Guelph Minor Hockey’s ADP program as the model for accelerated development at U8 and U9 ages.

Read more to learn about this program and its benefits…

Information Session

GMHA hosted an information session on August 16th, 2023.

Watch the Recorded Information Session

Team Structure

U8 ADP is a team-based program, with players selected for…and organized into…teams for the season. At U8 and U9 teams are composed of 18 players each.

These ADP teams are tiered, which means that players 1-18 are selected for a team, players 19-36 are selected for the next team, etc. This helps to ensure that players are practicing with and competing against other players of similar skill, which is one of the key developmental concepts of Hockey Canada’s U9 Player Pathway.

(Each player’s individual development is optimized by putting them in an environment where they can learn what they are ready to learn….when they are ready to learn it.)

Season Structure

The ADP season structure is based on the best practices outlined in Hockey Canada’s U9 Player Pathway, and moves through distinct phases:

ADP Season Timeline

Preparation / Evaluation - 4 preparation skates to help players get back on the ice after the summer, followed by 4 evaluation skates used to evaluate players and select teams.

Development - Heavy focus on skills development, with ice time dedicated to station-based practices, power skating, and small area games. This phase includes “Game Days” for internal competition as part of early season player development.

Regular Season - Teams participate in the Tri-County Minor Hockey League, which offers tier-based competition at U8 and U9. (U8 and U9 ages are no longer part of “rep” hockey.) U8 games are all played in a “half ice” format that shrinks the playing area and keeps players more engaged and involved. 

End of Season - The final month of the season typically includes a season-ending league event, as well as an opportunity for teams to travel to a festival/tournament. The practice format is also focused more on game play at this point of the season.

Practice Format

The ADP skill development program includes station-based skills practices planned and run by professional coaches, dedicated power skating sessions, and a season plan focused on development with a transition into competitive games.

ADP practices combine 2 teams on the ice, with 36 players working in stations under a low coach to player ratio. This format has a number of benefits, including:

  • Plenty of repetitions for young players learning skills.

  • A focus on the individual skills and tactics that are key to player development at these ages.

  • Efficient use of limited ice resources.

  • Maximized value for all participants (costs spread across a larger group).

  • Consistent practice plans and professional coaching across groups.

U8 skills practices are 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.

Preparation and Evaluation Skates

To be considered for participation in the Advanced Development Program, players must be registered with GMHA for the coming season, and must participate in the ADP Preparation and Evaluation Skates that take place in September.

To register for these skates you will need to purchase a tryout pass online. 

Register Here

Note that you MUST be registered for the coming season AND participate in the preparation and evaluation skates to be eligible for the Advanced Development Program.

Preparation Skates - 4 separate 1-hour practices designed to give young players who may not have skated in several months a chance to get a feel for the ice again. No evaluations take place during these skates. 

Evaluation Skates - 4 separate 1-hour sessions designed to evaluate player skill levels for the purpose of creating ADP teams at the U8 and U9 ages.


Those interested in the U8 ADP program should follow these steps to register:

  1. Register for the U8 age group in Guelph Minor Hockey as all U8 players do. Players are not eligible to register for ADP evaluations unless they are already registered with GMHA for the coming season.

  2. Register for the ADP Preparation and Evaluation skates.

  3. If selected for an ADP team, register for the ADP Program and pay the ADP Fee using instructions provided by GMHA.


Goals for ADP

  • Create a fun and positive learning environment.

  • Have qualified instructors overseeing development.

  • Follow the Hockey Canada U9 Player Pathway.

  • Ensure that athletes are practicing and playing with other similarly skilled players.

  • To be a representative (rep) hockey initiation program that bridges the gap from house league / skill development to rep hockey at the U10 age group.


Program Costs

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**

ADP Within Guelph Minor Hockey

The Advanced Development Program (ADP) acts as a bridge from the Skill Development program and House League to Representative (Rep) hockey. ADP takes the existing development structures used in other GMHA programs and enhances the model to offer a more competitive and challenging environment.