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Development Philosophy

Development Philosophy:  It is our philosophy that quality hockey comes from skilled players. Players must be able to perform diverse hockey skills at a fast pace under pressure without forethought; key skills must come seemingly naturally to players. Skills like proper skating stride, stability on edges, quickness, puck control, passing and shooting are areas where we will focus. Until these areas are mastered, there will be little focus on team systems and full-game strategy. Our process will be in accordance with the HDC’s Scope and Sequence (Youth Manual) and will incorporate elements of USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM), though there will be differences with the latter.

For the first time, we will be implementing an all-encompassing development strategy at the youngest levels (Mites). We will develop good players through quality repetition of basic skills, mixed with fun drills and small area games. Game- play limits will be in accordance with USA Hockey rules, but we will encourage more and more practices at the younger levels. Drills that focus on skills do not need to be boring and the same over and over. Kids should almost always be moving and developing skills. Coaches are encouraged to use the resources available (including HDCs and PDCs) for new, creative ideas on how to teach core hockey skills. Full team drills will be non-existent at this level. If the kids can’t play, it doesn’t matter where they are on the ice. And we will begin to utilize dry land training at the mite level.

As players progress to squirts (10U), peewees (12U) and bantams (14U), the development process will become slightly more game-oriented, but the focus will still be on core hockey skills. As a guideline:

Players at the Squirt/10U levels will work some on competitive situations (1-on-1, 2-on-1), flow drills and game strategy, but the vast majority (80%+) of work will be spent on core individual skills like edge work, tight area puck handling and control, and passing.

Development at the Peewee/12U level will focus more on game-skills and situations but the majority of the time will still be spent developing and refining skills (60%+).  We will do more in the way of competitive situations and flow drills than in Squirt/10U with some limited team strategy at this level, provided it is appropriate for the given team.

At the Bantam/14U level, coaches will have greater discretion to determine the specific needs of their team and plan development accordingly. There will still be a significant focus on skill development at this level.

Much greater detail on our development philosophy is provided in the attached document labeled “Youth Manual”, produced by our HDC Co-Chair and Apple Valley Boys High School Coach, Chris Sikich.