SHA IP Coach Mentorship Program Builds from the Ground Up

Friday, April 5th, 2019 – The development of young athletes has always been at the forefront for the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA). From a players first steps on the ice surface, learning to grow and fall in love with the game of hockey is one that takes proper coaching, the right environment and the most effective drills and knowledge for today’s youth. The current evolution of hockey in the province and across the country has focused on the fact that the “one size fits all” formula is flawed at the grassroots level. Recently, Hockey Canada has completed a comprehensive review of the hockey skills of emerging and elite players across the country and concluded that the trend amongst Canadian hockey players presented that we were out-skilled by our opponents on the international stage. This prompted the SHA to assess its own philosophy when it comes to Initiation level players (ages 5-6) and for that matter, all levels of hockey for development and retention of players.

Major studies such as the Long-Term Player Development Model (LTPD) have been the ground work for this change. The LTPD states “focus is on the development of physical literacy” during the Initiation age level. The mandate that all initiation hockey was to be played, Cross-Ice in 2016-17 has been a learning curve for most in the province but one that presents it’s positive influence on the game.

In support of this initiative, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association introduced the IP Initiation Mentor program that same season Cross-Ice was mandated. The program is designed to help connect coaches with skilled mentors that have the resources and backgrounds to help them be successful when starting out their coaching careers. It allows coaches to ask questions and seek out support through a network of highly trained and skilled coach mentors across the province and throughout the season.

The mentorship group are a team of coaches that understand the purpose of Cross-Ice and also how to connect with new and upcoming coaches. All mentors have certifications in: Respect in Sport, Coaching Level 1, Facilitator Training, Hockey Canada Skating Level 1, Hockey Canada Skills Level 1, Hockey Canada Network App Training, and many are being certified in the CanPowerSkate program. In addition to these certifications, all mentors themselves bring years of knowledge and expertise from prior coaching backgrounds to the table. A mentor is the stepping stone to building one’s coaching network. The group is around 45 mentors strong, with presence in all regions of the province. The SHA sends a mentor for a minimum of two (2) visits to each IP coach (practice or game observations) and offer coaches resources when it comes to their practice planning, developing skating and skill, as well as prepare them for the level of hockey they will be coaching. Mentors review practices and games, observing a coach’s planning/preparedness, instruction, environment created, as well as safety of the coaches and players. Following a practice or game ongoing feedback and support is offered to ensure coaches have all the resources possible to be successful.

The ripple effect and benefits from the IP Mentorship program are endless. Better coaches produce better players who strengthen and build a Minor Hockey Association. For more information on both the IP Mentorship and Initiation Programs, please visit

To get involved in becomming a mentor, contact Blaine Stork, Senior Coordinator of Coaching Development at or contact the SHA office at 306-789-5101.



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