This stage is the beginning of the most important window to develop the fine motor skills on an individual technical skill basis that leads to utilizing these skills into individual and team tactics later in the player’s growth cycle. During this phase, prior to the beginning of the growth spurt, players have the best opportunity to learn and begin to master fine motor skills that can be used in combination with other skills. In most cases what is learned or not learned in this stage will have a very significant effect on the level of play that is achieved. Players should be able to begin to transfer skills and concepts from practices to games.


One of the most important periods of motor development for children is between the ages of 9 and 12. This is a window of accelerated adaptation to motor coordination. Early specialization in late specialization sports can be detrimental to later stages of skill development and to refinement of the fundamental sport skills. At this stage, children are developmentally ready to acquire the general sports

skills that are the cornerstones of all athletic development.


The focus of the Atom age group should be the following:

For Minor Hockey Associations


  • Continue to share ice between teams to maximize the usage of the ice, especially during prime time

  • Encourage coaches to continue their education through the Hockey Canada Specialty Clinics and Hockey Canada Instructional Stream Clinics and other continuing education offerings

  • Structure competition based on the differences in development and abilities

  • Provide coaches with the latest and most up to date resources to assist with seasonal planning and skill teaching.

  • Provide mentoring pathway within organization

For Coaches


  • The intensity is gradually and progressively increased during training to meet the competition demands. Make the task more difficult (effort given, greater speed of execution)

  • Continue to focus on the fundamental technical skills and the tactical application of these skills.

  • Develop endurance through games and relays on ice.

  • The tactic/strategy is adapted to the age level and the background of the players and to the typical characteristics of the team.

  • NCCP training in the Introduction to Competition Development Stream. This stream focuses on the development of coaching and teaching skills for the acquisition of skills and tactics as well as providing coaches with tools to develop physical and mental preparation skills in their players

For Parents


  • Encourage your child to participate in a wide variety of physical activities

  • Strength training should be done solely with the players own body weight

  • Other sports that build on fundamental movement skills applicable to hockey:

    • Gymnastics

    • Run, Jump, Throw programs

    • Soccer

    • Skating programs

    • Baseball

    • Lacrosse

    • Golf