The North York Knights Hockey Association Learn To Play hockey programs are for children ages 4 to 7 years old and include pure beginners to those in their second or third year starting to progress in their skating and hockey skills. We also offer a Learn To Play program for children older than 7 years old (see Extended Learn To Play).
Basic Elements of the Learn To Play Program
The basic elements of the program include the following (in order of progression):
- introduction to correct skating posture
- push and glide
- stops, turns and backward skating
- puck carrying and shooting
- advanced stride and glide, turns (cross-overs) and stops
- advanced puck carrying – dekes, passing, shooting
- introduction to the basic team concepts
- game play
Children that enter the program at the age of 4 or 5 with little skating or hockey experience should expect to complete 2 years of Learn To Play in order to be ready for House League and Select level hockey. Lessons are in group format, usually with a coach/assistant coach to skater ratios of no more than 6 to 1. The early sessions are focused on skating and skill development with more game oriented sessions as the year progresses.
Varying Skills – Assessments
We understand that children come into this program with varying abilities. We spend the first few weeks doing assessments, and then group children of similar abilities to allow for the appropriate structuring of drills. Some children may be moved to either of the one hour sessions within the two hour block registration time frame, and some movement will occur during the season as progression occurs. By the end of the season, all players will show tremendous improvement and the skill level among the groups will become closely aligned.
Prior to the first session, you must acquire the following equipment (otherwise the player will not be allowed on the ice):
- hockey skates (not figure skates); if you are buying new skates they must be sharpened out of the box!
- shin guards
- hockey socks and garter or velcro shorts
- protective cup (optional)
- hockey pants (make sure they will stay up with belt and/or suspenders)
- shoulder pads
- elbow pads
- hockey sweater
- hockey gloves
- helmet with full face guard (a cage is best)
- neck guard (must be “BNQ Certified”)
- youth hockey stick, cut down to chin height while standing in skates
DO NOT BUY MOLDED PLASTIC/VELCRO SKI BOOT STYLE SKATES, AS THEY DON’T FLEX ENOUGH AND IMPEDE DEVELOPMENT!
Helmets and Clothing
- Your child’s helmet must be CSA approved and be in good condition and should be no more than 5 years old.
- We will provide each player with a team coded coloured jersey and socks after initial assessments and placements have been made; however you may wish to buy or borrow socks and a sweater for the first few weeks.
Sticks should be youth sticks cut down (not adult sticks cut down). Stick length must be cut to the mid chin when standing on skates.
Names on Helmets and Sticks
Before your first session please put white hockey tape (or masking tape) across the front and back of their helmet. Show the player’s first name in large (at least one inch) block letters using a black marker on the front tape, and show their last name in large block letters on the back tape. Please put their name visibly on their stick with black marker as this will help with retrieval after non-stick drills.
Parents as Assistant Coaches
Parents are encouraged to volunteer as assistant coaches. All coaches must wear a CSA helmet on ice. Faceguards are not necessary for coaches. Hockey gloves are recommended. Anyone coming on the ice must prior sign a GTHL insurance card so that our association is covered in the event of an accident. If you offer to assist on the ice, you are expected to assist all the players and not just your own child.
Please do not hesitate to contact us by email on the Knights website if you have any questions on the program.