Hockey Canada Skills Academy

History of the Hockey Canada Skills Academy (HCSA) Program


Inclusive, accessible and fun skill development for all levels … during the school day!"


At the 1999 Molson Ice Summit on Player Development, 11 recommendations for system-wide improvements were identified for the future of Canadian hockey. Recommendation No. 10 stated:

Promote cooperative efforts between school boards, local hockey associations (LHAs) and sponsors
to better utilize ice times and school facilities and move towards the development of sport schools.

Hockey Canada agreed that to maximize arena use during weekday hours, implementing a sport-school program for hockey with national standards was required. The HCSA program, under the umbrella of Hockey Canada and through collaboration with its 13 Members, was the first step toward realizing this objective.

The first phase of this concept was the establishment of the HCSA Pilot Project. Its purpose was to test the operational mandate of the HCSA program in the province of Alberta during the 2000-01 school year. Phase 1 was a resounding success, leading to Phase 2 – the expansion of the operational mandate to further test and evaluate the HCSA licensing model by expanding the concept across the country.

Today, HCSA programs operate in over 150 schools in eight provinces, enhancing the educational experience of over 5,500 students. Hockey Canada’s long-range vision is to continue to work closely with its 13 Members to sanction, service and monitor HCSA-licensed programs operating in rural and urban centres throughout Canada where both LHAs and facilities are available.

HCSA programs are accessible to any student, regardless of hockey experience.

Purpose of the HCSA Program

The primary objective of the HCSA program is to enhance the educational experience of each student by integrating hockey into their school day.

HCSA programs enhance the confidence, self-esteem and opportunities for students in both academics and athletics beyond the primary, intermediate and secondary school system, while making efficient use of arena facilities during school-day hours.

The intention of the HCSA program is not to develop future professional or international-calibre athletes, but rather to deliver individual technical skill development to students currently playing hockey during the school day while also offering the chance for all students to try the game at in an accessible school setting.

The overall objectives of the HCSA program are to:

  • Enhance academic achievement through the motivation of establishing a balance of both academics and athletics within the school system.
  • Enhance individual technical and tactical skill development.
  • Assist in equalizing the development opportunity for:
    • late birthdays
    • late bloomers
    • late starters
    • late maturity

Philosophy of the HCSA Program

  • School and/or School Board Operators
    • HCSA programs are strictly supplementary to the existing programs run by LHAs.
    • The operational mandate is to provide additional training for school-aged hockey players, of all genders, beginners or advanced, recreational or competitive, who are registered and playing on their LHA team or who may want to become registered with the LHA and Member.
    • HCSA programs are focused on individual skill development and academic achievement.
    • HCSA programs may not establish or develop teams for competition.
    • HCSA programs are equity-based programs that must provide access to students through a bursary program that exists within the school and/or school board when needed.
    • HCSA programs are sanctioned for operation by Hockey Canada and its Members and have the written endorsement of the school board and the LHA.
  • Students
  • Any student registered, or who may want to become registered, with an LHA and who is attending a school operating a HCSA program is eligible to participate.
  • Any student, regardless of skill level, may register.
  • Any student, regardless of family income status, may register.
  • Students enrolled in an HCSA program must maintain academic and behaviour standards established and monitored by the school and/or school board to remain in the program.
  • HCSA Program Instructors
  • The lead instructor or designate must attend the HCSA Summer Seminar in the first year of program operation.
  • At a minimum, lead instructors will need to be fully trained and/or certified by September 2021 in the National Coach Certification Program (NCCP) at a minimum of Coach 2 – Coach Level by their Hockey Canada Member. Development 1 or 2 and High Performance 1 are beyond the minimum requirements and are acceptable. If the lead instructor is not accredited in one of the above listed NCCP programs, they must complete, at minimum, two of the following four instructional stream clinics: skating, developing defencemen, skills and small-area games. 
  • All lead instructors must complete the Respect in Sport Activity Leader program and re-certify every five years.
  • Instructional staff are recommended to participate in annual professional development through the HCSA Summer Seminar training program.
  • Keeping Girls in Sport is an online resource that helps coaches and youth activity leaders create safe and respectful environments for girls. Although not a requirement, it is strongly recommended that all individuals involved in an HCSA program complete this training.
  • HCSA Curriculum Framework
  • HCSA programs must establish and follow the guidelines recommended in the instructional curriculum framework as set out by Hockey Canada.
  • The on-ice curriculum framework focuses on technical skills, individual offensive and defensive skills and some situational play.
  • The off-ice curriculum framework focuses on developing agility, balance and coordination along with technical skill development.
  • The instructional curriculum framework is evaluated and updated by Hockey Canada (HCSA Technical Advisory Group) on an annual basis with input from HCSA instructional staff.

HCSA Licensing Products and Services

The annual HCSA licensing fee provides the following products and services to HCSA programs:

  • Use of the Hockey Canada Skills Academy trademark (outlined in HCSA written licensee agreement – non-exclusive rights with conditions that apply).
  • Use of word mark (i.e. “Sanctioned Hockey Canada Skills Academy” or “Official Hockey Canada Skills Academy”).
  • HCSA on-ice and off-ice skill development curriculum framework.
  • HCSA on-ice and off-ice skill development training videos.
  • Additional resources within the HCSA curriculum, including floorball, joga, classroom assignments, HCSA best practices and HCSA Summer Seminar professional development presentations from 2016 to 2020.
  • HCSA-branded materials (HCSA-branded stationary items provided in template format).
  • An annual premium membership to the Hockey Canada Network app:.
  • providing general promotional information and internal links to specific HCSA program pages or program specific websites.
  • Annual instructor on-ice and off-ice professional development training seminar in the operation and delivery of the HCSA program. NCCP Certification Maintenance and Instructional Stream Clinic points are awarded for participation in this training. HCSA programs can register additional delegates for the training for a registration fee of $500 which includes accommodation, airport transfer, meals and meeting materials.
  • Access to floorball equipment subsidies.
  • Hockey Canada medical and liability insurance.

For more information, please contact: [email protected]