The Grand Rapids Blades offers 3 programs in our U8 offerings. Learn to Skate, Cross Ice and Mites. See below for additional information.
Learn to Skate
Our Learn to Skate program welcomes all beginning skaters of all ages. Graduates of our Learn to Skate program can go on to be hockey players, figure skaters or even just recreational skaters. Our goal for Learn to Skate is to introduce the kids to skating and having fun on the ice. Our methodology includes playing fun games and having contests that anyone of any skill level can take part in along with allowing our future hockey players to pass the puck and score goals.
We typically start out with kids having little or no experience skating and introduce them to the fundamentals of skating. While our Learn to Skate program is for any skater, we do typically gear our sessions towards future hockey players by allowing those that chose to do so play with sticks and pucks. However, our games and drills work equally well without pucks. By the end of each session, our goal is to have the kids skating from end to end on the rink and to be able to confidentially hit or move a puck with their stick.
Our Learn to Skate program is separated into 3 sessions. While we encourage everyone to participate in all three sessions, we understand that sometimes only 1 or 2 sessions work with a family’s schedule. We start each Learn to Skate session with the same format such that joining any session will allow your child to meet our goals for our Learn to Skate program. The dates for our Learn to Skate sessions are as follows:
Required Equipment: Helmet, skates, and warm clothes. A limited number of helmets and skates are available for loan for use at the beginning of each session. A limited number of rental skates will also be available at the rink. For the younger kids, warm substantially waterproof gloves along with insulated pants are recommended.
Optional Equipment: Hockey equipment including shin pads, elbow pads, hockey pants, hockey socks, hockey gloves, cup, shoulder pads, and a stick.
Our Cross-Ice program is a great introduction to all aspects of playing hockey for those skaters with some staking ability. All kids 12 and under are welcome to join our Cross-Ice program. Our goal for our Cross-Ice program is to strengthen skating skills along with introducing the game of hockey. Our methodology includes playing fun games and having contests allowing our future hockey players to pass the puck and score goals. We try to keep the kids skating at all times and to have everyone involved in every activity.
Our games include 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 cross-ice games using one-third of a rink without goalies. Our cross-ice games are mostly played amongst ourselves, but we try to have at least 4 exchanges wherein another association comes to our rink to play cross-ice games or we visit another rink in the West Michigan area to play cross-ice games. For several seasons, we have also been able to take part in a Cross-Ice Jamboree at Van Andel Arena with Cross-Ice skaters from the other associations in West Michigan.
We typically start out with kids having experience skating and introduce them to further fundamentals of skating (e.g., stopping, turning, backward skating) and the fundamentals of playing hockey including passing and shooting pucks. Each practice includes a number of fun games to allow the skaters to learn hockey in a fun manner. Our practices follow the American Development Model (ADM) as outlined by USA Hockey.
The ADM is geared towards keeping kids playing hockey and making hockey fun. Further information on the ADM can be found at the ADM Kids website along with the ADM introduction video. Typical Practice Plan running stations concurrently or consecutively, depending on the number of players.
Required Equipment: Helmet, skates, shin pads, elbow pads, hockey pants, hockey socks, hockey gloves, and a stick. Optional equipment includes mouth guard, cup, and shoulder pads.
Fundamentally anchored in USA Hockey’s ADM model (skills stations), practices transition to more skating, edge work, and repetition. Our goal for the Mites program is to refine their movement skills and create basic sports skills. Our practices focus on playing fun games while gaining the fundamental skills needed to play the game.
Mites participate in weekend "jamborees" most weekends throughout the Grand Rapids area. Teams from multiple associations bring teams to compete in 3v3 cross-ice or 4v4 half-ice games against each other in a fun environment.
The Blades also sends a combined team to participate in up to 5 MAHA jamborees during the season to compete against teams from around the state.
2023-2024 Fall/Winter Season
Developmental Program Rates and Information
All Developmental programs begin the week of October 2nd and run through the 2nd full week of March
Mite (8U) - $800
• 2 practices per week
• Mite jamborees/games (most weekends)
• Opportunity for 2015's to participate in up to 5 MAHA tournaments (additional fees)
Cross Ice (6U) - $525
• 1 weekday and 1 Saturday practice per week
• Local jamborees/games
Learn to Skate / Play - $260* (2018 birth years skate for free!)
• 21 total skates divided into 3 sessions
• $260 for all 21 skates if paid by October 15th*
• $130 for each 7 skate session*
• 2018 birth years skate for free!