My my My my

The Reston Raiders Initiation Program (IP) is offered to all skaters aged 4-10 (2008-2014 birth years). The program is based on the USA Hockey American Development Model for learning to play ice hockey and is designed to teach players the fundamentals of the game in a fun and supportive environment.  This program is designed for children who have little to no experience skating or playing organized ice hockey and it is intended as a pre-requisite for those children who wish to join the Raiders House league recreational hockey programs and our Travel Program.

Registration Dates for 2018 – 2019 Season

7/1 – Registration opens for returning members @ 9:00am

8/1 – Registration opens for waitlisted members from last season @ 9:00am

8/5 – Registration opens for new members @ 9:00am


The Goals of the Program are:

  • To have fun and grow a passion for the game.
  • To learn the fundamental skills required to play the game of hockey - skating, puck handling, scoring, body contact, passing.
  • To develop players so they are prepared to take the next steps to play in the Raiders Travel or House Programs
  • To be introduced to the concepts of cooperation and fair play.

Program Focus

The program will focus on the basic skills required to play hockey.  These include:

  • Skating – forward stride, backward stride, stopping, agility, balance, coordination
  • Stickhandling and Puck Protection – fundamentals of stickhandling and how to keep possession of the puck
  • Passing – fundamentals of passing, including technique and different types of passing with a focus on forehand and backhand passes
  • Scoring – teaching shooting basics (wrist shot and backhand) as well as scoring concept
  • Body contact – Hockey is a physical game and while checking is not permitted until 14U, players at all levels will be instructed on how to use body contact as a key skill. 

What does my child get out of this program?
The program emphasizes the basic hockey skills: skating, puck handling, passing, scoring and body contact. Each skill is introduced and refined in a progressive one step at a time manner. Children learn and develop through participating in practice drills and informal and modified games (such as shinny, freeze tag and obstacle courses). Although the emphasis is on fun and progressive skill development, the Initiation Program also allows youngsters to experience “real hockey” situations.


Program Structure
The Initiation Program (IP) will be led by USA Hockey Certified coaches from the Reston Raiders Hockey Club and it is divided into two divisions based upon age and experience.

Initiation Program 1 (IP1)

IP1 is intended for younger children (4 – 7 years old) with no hockey experience.  The IP1 group will practice one time per week on Sunday afternoons.  Younger players (e.g. 4 and 5-years of age) may repeat IP1 and do not need to move on the IP2.  All players born in 2014 should register for IP1.

Initiation Program 2 (IP2)

IP2 is intended for older children (6 – 10 years old) with some hockey/skating experience. Older players with limited skating/playing experience may also enroll in IP2.  The IP2 group will practice two times per week.  The first skate will be on Saturday mornings.  These sessions will mirror our 8U house program games and begin to prepare players for our House and Travel programs.  Players will practice skating and then be divided into teams and play 3v3 cross-ice games for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.  On Sunday afternoon, the players will attend a station-based practice with games and drills designed to improve their fundamental skills. Completion of IP1 is required unless your child is 7 years or older.

If you need assistance determining which IP session is the correct fit for your child, please email – please include your child’s birth year and hockey/skating experience.  The Raiders coaching staff will do an initial evaluation on all the IP players at the beginning of the year to ensure your player is in the correct session.  We may ask that some players move from IP1 to IP2 and vice-versa depending on ability and what we believe is the best environment for your child to develop. 

Both IP sessions will start in late September and end in late February/early March.

Children will be evaluated at the end of the IP season to determine if they have the requisite skill level to join the Reston Raiders House or Travel programs. The main factor used to determine the recommendation for the next step in your child’s hockey career is to decide which environment would be best for the development of your child as a hockey player.  A child who does not “graduate” to our House program is not a failure or “behind” – many of our most skilled Raider players at the 8U through 18U levels took multiple years of IP – your IP player is at the very beginning of hopefully a long hockey career.  We strive to create an environment where each child enjoys the great game of hockey and looks forward to coming to the rink and leaves the rink with a smile.  The IP program is all about developing players, developing a passion for the game, and… about smiles.  After all, it’s always a great day to play hockey!

Volunteer Coaches

Our program is dependent on adults willing to volunteer their time to help the kids learn to play the great game of hockey.  We greatly appreciate all the volunteers from previous seasons who come back to help. You will not be stuck out there by yourself, experienced Raider coaches will plan and lead the sessions. If you would like to volunteer, please email so we can put you on the list – no previous hockey experience is necessary, ability to stand up and move around on skates is very beneficial, patience and a desire to have fun with the kids is required. 

Required equipment

  • Hockey Shorts - Jock/Jill (with Velcro to hold up hockey socks)
  • Skates
  • Shin Pads
  • Hockey pants
  • Hockey Socks
  • Shoulder pads (small, not overbearing)
  • Elbow Pads
  • Hockey Gloves
  • Hockey helmet with cage/facemask
  • Hockey Stick

The Reston Raiders will provide a stick to all IP participants (to be distributed at the Orientation Session).

Optional equipment


Neck protection (hockey neck guard)


Washington Capitals/NHL Learn to Play Equipment Program

The Washington Capitals have scaled back their learn-to-play free equipment program and the Raiders will not be receiving the equipment package this year. Please visit the Skatequest Pro shop for your equipment needs. All Initiation Program Players will be provided with a new stick at the IP Orientation Meeting in September.


Additional Resources

  • USA Hockey has a Parent Guide with some good information. You can access it via this link: USA Hockey Parent Guide
  • An instructional video on how to dress your new hockey player – How to Dress Youth Hockey Players for Practice
  • The Reston Raiders host an annual equipment swap where you can find gently used youth hockey gear for very reasonable prices.  The equipment swap usually takes place in early September (prior to the IP season start) and details will be posted on the Raiders website.


For more information, contact the Raiders by email to the Club's