With an eye on player retention, the Semiahmoo Minor Hockey Association (SMHA) is launching its Performance Program this season.
Run for players on A1 teams in the atom (9-10), peewee (11-12), bantam (13-14) and midget (15-17) age groups, the program is a curriculum for coaches to follow, co-ordinating player development on all four rep teams. With a focus on both on-ice development of dry land training, the program will ensure “appropriate skills are taught at each level and then built upon at the next level.”
“The board has been championing it for a couple of years,” said Dave Newson, executive director of SMHA.
“It’s a bit of a response to the changing world of minor hockey, with all the academies, skills camps etc. We’re offering something similar, with more of a community approach.”
Fulltime hockey academies have been appearing in communities across the country for several years, often attracting some of the best minor hockey players to their programs. Numerous high schools are now offering hockey academies, at which a hockey class replaces physical education.
“Academies will come to you with a brochure, and sell you on what they can offer,” said Newson. “The minor hockey tradition used to be, make the team and we’ll see what happens. We’re now saying, here’s what you can expect.”
In the past, the association would select rep teams, then turn them over to volunteer coaches each season, who would independently plan practices and training. Players going through the rep system would be asked to train differently each time they would play under a new coach.
Under the Performance Program, which includes the Valley West Hawks of the BC Hockey Major Midget League and the Junior A Surrey Eagles as partners, players will receive a “co-ordinated approach” to player development.
“Our strength will be the continuity over the years, from when a player first steps onto the ice to when he’s in midget looking to move on to major-midget or junior hockey,” said Newson.
“The Eagles and Hawks will help a bit with coaching and player evaluation, but a lot through inspiration. They will be what players strive for.”