U11 Player Pathway

The U11 Player Pathway is supported by the Hockey Canada Long-Term Player Development Model. This framework provides the guiding principles for age appropriate and skill specific programming for all players in Hockey Canada’s youth hockey system. By utilizing LTPD principles, Hockey Canada membership offers systems and structures that are more consistent and ensure continuity as players move through the system from one age level to the next.

Player development is at the core of the U11 Player Pathway, with a focus on skill development so that each player will experience success in both practice and game settings. When viewing from the perspective of how kids learn the number of repetitions of specific skills and situations that occur in practice versus a game we quickly learned where players have a chance to develop the most: practice.


The U11 Player Pathway is a progressive learn-to-play teaching curriculum. This pathway is an important component in the transition from U9 and serves as preparation into U13. The U11 Player Pathway consists of four phases of instruction, designed for players graduating from U9 hockey and for entry-level hockey players who may start playing hockey at this age level. The curriculum introduces, develops, and refines the skills of skating, passing, puck control, and shooting in a progressive, step-by-step manner.

This is to be viewed as an opportunity for young players to develop and refine fundamental movement skills (skating, turning, acceleration), manipulation skills (shooting, puck control, passing) and overall motor skills (balance, coordination, agility) in a fun and safe environment, promoting skill development through self-confidence. The main goal of the U11 Player Pathway is to continue to have fun while developing skills. When players continue on a positive note, they enjoy the game and will go on to have fun playing hockey for many years.

The U11 Player Pathway provides an environment that helps all players at the U11 age level (9 and 10 years old) to realize their full potential. Hockey Canada strongly believes that in order for players to truly fulfill their potential and be the best they can be, the needs of the player should be at the forefront of the programming.

The primary focus of the youth hockey system is to develop a lifelong passion for sport, develop important life skills through hockey and provide young players exposure to a development system that is progressive in nature and meets their needs based on age-specific and skill-appropriate programming.

Implementation for the 2020-2021 Season

Effective for the 2020-2021 season, minor hockey associations across Canada, including those in the Ontario Hockey Federation’s Member Partners (Minor Hockey ALLIANCE of Ontario, Greater Toronto Hockey League, Ontario Minor Hockey Association, Northern Ontario Hockey Association and the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association) will be following the U11 Player Pathway.

With the implementation of the U11 Player Pathway in the 2020-2021 season, key changes have been made to the Player Pathways at U7 and U9. This will create consistency in all programming across the country and create a seamless transition for players from U7 through to U11 based on the Long-Term Player Development model.

The Player Pathways provide local minor hockey associations a framework of age appropriate development guidelines which includes an optimal seasonal structure. 

  1. Player Evaluations, Selections, Tryouts (REQUIREMENT)
    • No tryouts prior to or during the first week of school.
      1. No tryouts during the off-season phase (previous season, including March through August).
      2. No tryouts during the first week of school where school starts the week after Labour Day.
      3. Where school starts prior to Labour Day, there must be four skates/practices starting the week following Labour Day before tryouts commence.
  • Must offer a minimum of four practice/skill sessions prior to formal evaluation starting.
  • Must have a minimum of three formal evaluation sessions:
    1. One skills session, one small-area games session, one formal game. (RECOMMENDATION)
    2. Players should not try out based on a specific position, but should be encouraged to play both forward and defense in tryouts. (RECOMMENDATION)
    3. Players should be selected for teams based on skill, not positional preference. (RECOMMENDATION)
  1. Fair and Equal Ice Time (REQUIREMENT)
    • All players and goaltenders should receive fair and as close to equal as possible ice time.
    • Positional Rotation:
      1. All players play all positions (RECOMMENDATION)
    • Goaltender Rotation:
      1. Full-time goaltender allowed.
      2. Goaltenders rotate for equal amount of playing time throughout the regular season and playoffs. (RECOMMENDATION)
  1. Seasonal Structure (REQUIREMENT)
    • Preparation Phase (up to 2 Weeks)
      1. See Player Tryouts above.
    • Development Phase (up to 4 weeks)
      1. Teams must have a period of development time following tryouts prior to the start of the regular season.
    • Development and Regular Season Phase (Up to 22 weeks)
      1. Recommended maximum of 45 games per year (includes exhibition, league, tournament and playoff games).
      2. Seasonal Breaks
    • Playoff Phase (up to 4 weeks)
      1. Tournament style.
    • Offseason Phase (end of season to August)
  2. Position-Specific Training (RECOMMENDATION)
    • Small-area games in practice/station-based practices/skill-focused drills
    • Only 15% of practice time should be spent on team play and strategy/systems with 85% of practice time spent on skills and tactics.
    • Limit position-specific specialization (except for goalies).