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North Reading Youth Hockey and Skating Association

Mite Development Program – “Mini Mites”

Program Mission Statement






This document will explain the overall purpose and mission of the North Reading Youth Hockey and Skating Association’s Mite Development Program also known as “Mini-Mites.” 


I. Objective


The objectives of the NRSA Mite Development Program are the following:


  • Teach the fundamentals of skating, balance, agility, and puck control;
  • Provide an enjoyable introduction to hockey for players of all abilities;
  • Stress participation, fun and individual skill development; and,
  • Provide a healthy environment for fun and learning.


II. Philosophy


The Mite Development Program is the fundamental stage of the NRSA.  Its aim is simple – teach the player how to skate.  Period.  The foundation of having any fun or success playing Hockey is the ability to skate.  Creating a positive, fun and healthy environment for the youngest members of NRSA is essential to a player’s long-term participation, growth and successful experience in hockey. The Mite Development Program will focus on individual age appropriate skill development for all players based on USA Hockey's American Development Model (ADM). More information on the ADM can be found on the ADM page on this website, from our ACE Coordinator or from USA Hockey at their website.


The ADM encourages a noncompetitive environment in which children and youth can learn the basic skills without the distractions that are often associated with an overemphasis on winning games.  Mastery of the fundamental skills and the fun of playing are essential to the development of a lifelong interest in hockey. Enjoyment and recreation are the focal points of the guidelines for youth hockey issued by USA Hockey and the NRSA Board of Directors.


Again, at the end of the day – if a player can’t skate – he or she may never be fully realized as a hockey player. 


III. Program Structure


The structure of the Mite Development Program is important in creating a successful experience for ALL players and parents. NRSA realizes that families are stretched in many directions and is committed to creating as cost-efficient and family-friendly an environment as possible.


At the beginning of the season, each player will participate in a pre-season evaluation. Evaluations will be no more than 30 minutes long and access players in 8-11 different areas. The purpose of the evaluation is to ensure that all players are placed at the appropriative level based on their ability.


Following the preseason evaluation, participants in the Mite Development Program will be placed into groups based on ability. A minimum level of proficiency will be expected before players move to the next level in order to ensure that every Mini-Mite possesses the basic fundamentals of skating, balance, agility and puck control. The importance of overall body control will be stressed at every level. The goal is to ensure that every player is ready to compete at the highest level once he/she reaches travel league age.  


IV. Group Levels


Level 1 of the Mite Development Program is designed for the newest skaters, regardless of age. The emphasis at Level 1 will be primarily on skating, balance and agility. Pucks may be introduced once players begin to master the fundamentals of skating. All practices will be shared and games will only be played using either 1/2 or 1/3 sheet of ice. 


Level 2 of the Mite Development Program is designed for players who have graduated from the level 1. The emphasis at Level 2 will be on skating, balance, agility and beginning puck control. All practices will be shared and games will only be played using either 1/2 or 1/3 sheet of ice.


Level 3 of the Mite Development Program is designed for players who have graduated from the level 2. The emphasis at level 3 will be on skating, balance agility, puck control with some basic positioning. Practices will be shared and games will be cross-ice.  Inter-mural cross-ice games will be also utilized at some practices as a reward for hard work.  At no time will the emphasis at the Mite Development level be on winning games.


Level 4 of the Mite Development Program is designed for players who have graduated from the level 3. The emphasis at level 4 will be on skating, balance, agility, puck control and positioning. Practices will be shared and games may include cross-ice and 1/2 sheet games against Mini-Mite teams from other communities if they can be arranged.   


V. Player Development


The NRSA Mite Development Program, based on USA Hockey’s ADM, is centered on skill repetition, small area drills, station work and cross ice games. Practices are designed according to the ability level of the skaters in each group and will concentrate on the individual development of each player above all other interests. 


Player development is based on the following beliefs:


  • Along with the hockey skills that are being taught, the Mite Development Program is committed to developing the life skills identified in the Philosophy section.
  • Participants will be taught the proper way to perform skills. Practice makes permanent, not perfect. By learning to perform skills correctly, players will eliminate the formation of bad habits.
  • Muscle memory is developed through repetition. Skills must be practiced repeatedly until performing each skill becomes second nature. The more times players practice the fundamental skills, the more success they will feel which translates into fun.
  • Limited “games”. Full-ice game situations are not the best way to develop skills and often end up not being as fun as people hope. Instead, the Mite Development Program will employ various cross-ice and small area games which are shown to develop individual and teams skills, promote creativity, increase involvement, and provide more opportunities for players to touch the puck.



VI. Ice Hours & Fees


The Mite Development Program will begin in late October and run through the end of March. The ice fee includes a minimum of 30 hours of ice, instruction, jersey, socks, hockey equipment and the end of the year party. First year Mini-Mites have a fee of $750.  The Ice Times will be for 1 hour starting at 7am on Saturdays at and 7am on Sundays both located at the Merrimack College Gallant Arena.  This arena is a state of the Art arena that was built in 2013 and also includes a Dunkin’ Donuts.  There is also a possibility that the Sunday 7AM practice will be moved to 1pm at Peabody’s McVann Rink after Thanksgiving. 


VII. Coaching Development and Support


For many players and parents, the coach will be their first contact with the sport of hockey. The impression the coach makes upon players and parents will have a lasting effect on their perception of the game of hockey and NRSA. It is critical that we have coaches who can relate to children and teach the skills that will ensure ALL participants are successful and enjoy their experience playing the game.


The coach plays a prominent role in the lives of players in the program and helps to shape their view of hockey by his/her actions and attitudes. Coaches will be the first point of contact for players while on the ice and should teach the players to:


  • Play for the love of the game.
  • Respect the opponent.
  • Work for the good of the team.
  • Play within the rules of the game.
  • Be generous in victory and graceful in defeat.
  • Always conduct themselves with honor and pride.
  • Love the game.


Volunteering to coach children is a worthy task that demands responsibility. The NRSA is committed to working with and supporting all individuals willing to take on the responsibilities of coaching in the Mini-Mite Development Program. To fulfill that commitment, NRSA will:


  • Train coaches how to teach skills properly.
  • Provide resources for coaches to use in planning practices and teaching skills.
  • Hold meetings prior to the season to explain the program and what is expected of coaches.
  • Provide a mechanism to support coaches throughout the season and keep them on track and enthused about the program.
  • Encourage coaches to stay the course – skill development is the single most important aspect of the program.
  • Develop a coaches’ curriculum that will give all coaches access to a wide variety of drills and exercises that will help them teach the specified skills.
  • Promote USA Hockey’s Coach’s Code of Conduct
    • Hockey is fun.
    • Honest representation and skills should decide the final outcome of games.
    • Both players and opponents are to be respected and complemented.
    • Rules and regulations are to be respected and followed by all participants.
    • Officials are to be viewed as honest arbitrators.
    • Winning is a consideration, but not the only one nor the most important one.
    • Hockey is for all to enjoy.
    • Set an example of good behavior.




VIII. Parents


The success of the Mite Development Program relies greatly on the commitment and conduct of parents. We ask that you help support the programs in the following ways:


  • Ensure that your player is at practice on-time and ready to skate.
  • Communicate directly with coaches whenever you have a question or concern.
  • Conduct yourself in a positive, healthy way by following USA Hockey’s Parents’ Code of Conduct.
    • Players require a good example as opposed to criticism.
    • Help make your child’s participation rewarding for all participants.
    • Be understanding and supportive of the coach and the officials. The coach is a volunteer and is giving his/her personal time, at his/her expense, to help provide a positive experience for your child.
    • Support and assist the program in a positive manner.
    • The parent is the most important example to which a child can relate.
    • Be everything you want your child to be.