SWAT Player Development Model

Development philosophy

The SWAT development philosophy is focused on player and coach skill development and is based on the Hockey Canada Long Term Player Development (LTPD) model.

Our focus is player-based and does not emphasize the importance of wins and losses, but rather of developing player skill, sportsmanship and teamwork.


The SWAT development model of hockey is applied throughout the SWAT organization. It follows Hockey Edmonton “Streams of Play” programming guidelines within the “Alberta One” tiering model to group players of like-skill for maximum development and balanced competition. The Streams of Play guidelines include the following tiering structures for the range of categories:

Category Recreational Alberta One Tier Elite
6 5 4 3 2 1
U7 (Timbits) No U7 teams are blended, not tiered No
U9 (Novice) Yes Community Developmental No
U11 (Atom) Yes Community Developmental Competitive No
U13 (Peewee Yes Community Developmental Competitive Club*

*U13AA/AAA programs are run through South Side Athletic Club (SSAC) and Canadian Athletic Club (CAC), depending on your home address.

The number of practices and games allocated to teams by Hockey Edmonton may vary, based on category and stream of play. SWAT registration fees are based on allocations at the Community stream of play, and additional fees will be applied at higher levels to pay for additional ice time and/or professional instruction. All players are also eligible to register for additional skill development programs offered through SWAT or other providers, at their own expense.

Basic player development

All SWAT coaches have access to a base set of skill metrics and practice plans through Hockey Canada and Hockey Alberta. These resources identify base skills required at each category and tier, and allow coaches to focus on coaching rather than drawing and trying to find drills that are appropriate. Coaches may develop their own practice plans, and drills/drill progressions corresponding to the skill level of their players, and are encouraged to share these with other coaches.

Skill development sessions (practices) are expected to incorporate all aspects of the game, including skating, puck handling, shooting, positional play and checking. Note that body checking is not allowed at any category or tier within SWAT, but stick checking and body positioning are essential to the game. Coaches are also encouraged to include “fun games” in their practice plans!

As player skill level increases, coaches will build on the base that is established by Hockey Canada and increase the degree of difficulty in skill development sessions.

At competitive tiers, coaches will frame an entire season for players to help set the schedule to include on/off-ice training, and allow for power skating to be incorporated into the development plan.  SWAT will also provide opportunities for larger development sessions, with participation by teams of equal skill, to maximize ice usage. This will help families to avoid conflicts and provide flexibility for parents to incorporate other sporting activities (e.g., swimming or track) if desired.

Extended player development

Extended player development is coordinated through the SWAT Director of Player Development.

Teams in competitive tiers will be allocated additional player development opportunities, including additional coach-led and professional instruction. Costs for these sessions will require additional payment beyond the base registration fee.

SWAT also offers power skating/skill development programs that are open to players at all tiers, at additional cost.

Additional skill development programs are also available through third party providers.

Coach development

Coach development is coordinated through the SWAT Director of Coach Development.

SWAT provides coach development through various avenues, including a pre-season all-coach meeting, ongoing networking and support throughout the season, and reimbursement of fees for mandatory and optional coach clinics offered through Hockey Alberta. Coaching peer support is also encouraged and facilitated.

Questions regarding SWAT development programs may be addressed to the SWAT Board via vp-evaluations@swat.ca.