Cross Ice Initiative
Hockey Canada believes that hockey should be, first and foremost, fun for all participants. A big part of delivering on that is ensuring the programming is age-appropriate.
Cross-ice/half-ice hockey has always been part of the Initiation Program, but has not been implemented in the same way in every community – beginning this fall (2017-18 season), cross-ice/half-ice is mandatory at the Initiation level.
Cross-ice/half-ice hockey at the Initiation age effectively right-sizes the playing surface for young players:
- You don't put five- and six-year-olds on a full-size soccer pitch, or expect them to play basketball on a full-sized court with no height adjustments – hockey is no different.
- Cross-ice/half-ice hockey allows young players the opportunity for more puck-touches which promotes greater opportunity for skill development (puck-handling, shooting, skating, coordination) and decision-making.
- Players on cross-ice/half-ice have been shown to receive five times more passes and take six times more shots than when they are on a full-sized rink.
- Small-area games are used at all levels of the game – including senior national teams and the NHL.
The benefits of cross-ice/half-ice hockey go beyond player development; the special boards and bumpers allow minor hockey associations to alleviate pressure around scheduling and ice-time availability by safely allowing multiple practices and games to take place on one rink at the same time.
Cross Ice Initiative Videos
Below are 3 videos presented by Corey McNabb from Hockey Canada at the 2017 BC Hockey AGM. The videos explain the reasoning behind cross ice, the importance of small area games at all levels, and a great video from US Tennis about their kids program. Sports at every level tailor the size of the playing area to the size of the participant. Hockey should be no different.