Hockey Alberta U11 Player Pathway

Hockey Alberta has introduced a new model for the U-11 (Atom) Division. This new guideline is intended to enhance long term player development and better bridge the gap for the players moving from half to full ice games.

The following is an exert from Hockey Alberta...

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.

The U11 Player Pathway must be followed for the 2020-21 season.

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 the needs of the player should be at the forefront of the programming.

The U11 Player Pathway delivers numerous benefits to participants and their families. The benefits include:

  • creating a positive experience during evaluations with planned pre-evaluation ice sessions;
  • avoiding evaluations the first week of school; and
  • allowing all U11 players to play actively for 100% of the season.

FAIR AND EQUAL ICE TIME is a key principle of the U11 Player Pathway. Fair and equal ice time is designed to ensure that all players get the same opportunity to contribute to the outcome of games, regardless of skill or ability.

  • A coach’s responsibility is to develop all players to contribute.
  • Shortening of the bench is not permitted.
  • All players should receive as close to equal ice time as possible, including opportunities on special teams (powerplay and penalty killing).
  • All skaters should rotate through all positions to ensure each player can try each position. (LW/C/RW/LD/RD)
  • Full-time goaltenders are allowed. If a team has two goalies, they should rotate for equal playing time and the goalie not playing should be allowed to play out as a skater.



Every U11 player must have a minimum of four ice sessions (prep skates) prior to formal tryouts starting. The prep skates can be single year or combined, the recommended focus is:

  • Skate 1 - Offside (stations)
  • Skate 2 - Face-Offs (alignments and roles)
  • Skate 3 - Small Area Games (line changes / transitions)
  • Skate 4 - Controlled Scrimmage (led by coaches)


1. The prep skates are an opportunity for first-year U11 players to become familiar with the rule changes and larger ice surface.

  • Playing Rules (off-side, icing, faceoffs, penalty procedure, line changes, surface size)
  • Offensive and Defensive Concepts
  • Spring Ice Option
  • Fall Ice Option

2. The prep skates ensure a player’s first experience in the new hockey season is not a formal tryout - this gives all players the opportunity to get back on the ice in a more ‘player-friendly’ environment. 

3. The prep skates help level playing field; not all players go to hockey schools or prep camps prior to the start of the season. 


For more information visit the Hockey Alberta website Hockey Alberta U11 Pathway

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