Updated November 28, 2019.
All content is being shared for discussion purposes. No final decisions have been made at this time.
An Excellence Ringette Stakeholder meeting took place November 17, 2019. A summary of that meeting can be found below. The contributions of the participants will help Ringette Alberta develop an Excellence Ringette implementation plan.
The proposed Excellence Ringette context will prepare athletes for the environment they can expect within Ringette Canada’s High Performance programs, while being mindful of their stage of development. This includes helping an athlete simply become their best, whatever that may be, or for some, to prepare to play in the National Ringette League, to play at the Canada Games for their province and internationally for Canada on the Jr. and Sr. National Teams.
Each athlete’s development plan will take a long-term view and consider goal setting, on-ice and off-ice training, being challenged in competition, progress assessment, tracking, reporting, injury prevention and management, nutrition, sleep and recovery, growth, maturation and more.
Each program will include the support of an Integrated Service Team with sport science and sport medicine specialists.
Enrollment in Excellence Ringette is not a try out for limited roster spots. Entry is based on an athlete’s willingness to commit to the training and competition plan and having the necessary tools.
Athletes in this context should anticipate spending considerable time on the ice or in training while younger athletes will still be provided time to remain a multi-sport athlete if that is their choice.
The AA status quo will not continue for the 2020-21 season however all changes may not take place at the same time. A responsible pace of change will be determined in consultation with stakeholders.
Ringette Today – Why Change?
As part of Ringette Canada’s High Performance Summit, a background document, Current State of High Performance Ringette in Canada was produced. The document’s introduction articulates the state of High Performance Ringette in Canada:
There has been no clear definition of High Performance Ringette in Canada. From one province to the other, from one conversation to the next, the agreement as to ‘who is part of High Performance Ringette in Canada?’ is never reached. Additionally, athletes competing at the same level and part of the same development phase are not being given the same daily training opportunities from one area of the country to the other. How is it that programs built to achieve the same goals have such varying structures and priorities?
With Alberta, there is little recognition (and ownership) of the need for local programs to align with the goal of preparing athletes to enter Ringette Canada’s High Performance Programs or simply to become their best, whatever that may be. In a 2016 survey of AA clubs in Alberta, only one indicated it felt any responsibility to contribute to the success of Ringette Canada’s national teams through athlete development in the years preceding the athlete trying out for a national team program.
Excellence Ringette in the Future
Athletes in Excellence Ringette will be immersed an environments specifically designed to help them become their best.
The delivery of these programs will be curriculum based using the Athlete Development Matrix as the guide.
The programs will be fully aligned with Ringette Canada’s high performance pathway.
Program operators will be accountable for providing the high quality environment expected.
Talent ID vs Talent Development
Underlying the transition from today’s AA ringette to a true Pursuit of Excellence environment is the need for us to shift from a talent ID model to a talent development model. The notion that we can “see talent” in children as young as 12 years of age, or younger, is not supported by the research. We can only observe performance at a given moment in time which is, particularly for developing athletes, a poor indiciation of ultimate potential.
Below is a podcast (in two parts) featuring Dr. Joseph Baker from Canada’s York University, who is one of the world’s leading researchers on talent identification and development in sport. The podcast is called Coach Your Best and can be found at the links below or on Apple podcasts.
Real World: Example of Talent ID vs Talent Development
show This is an example of what the Talent ID model might look vs the Talent Development model at U16.
|Talent ID Model||Talent Development Model|
|Total athletes interested in program||60||60|
|Teams: Number and Tier||1 U16AA team, predetermined||
Through registration numbers, the organization sees the maxium number of athletes they may need to accomodate.
The number of teams at specific teirs is not pre-determined.
Unique to each organization/coach.
|Derived from the Athlete Development Matrix (ADM) and used by all Excellence programs|
45 players cut from the team
Feedback to athletes unknown
|15 are deemed not ready for the program yet. Provided feedback to understand where they can improve. Encouraged to return if they do the work.|
|Team Tiering and Competition||
Team is designated AA
No known definition of AA
Meaningful competition is unknown
15 at Train-to-Train Late, e.g., AA
Similarly categorized teams are grouped for games increasing the likelihood of meaningful competition
Leveraging the Own the Podium framework and fully aligned with Ringette Canada’s high performance plan and curriculum, athletes will be given the support to help them to become the very best player they can be and, for some, to compete for a roster sport in one of Ringette Canada’s High Performance programs.
Excellence Entry Standards
In Excellence Ringette, athletes do not try out for a program with limited spots.
Instead, entry is based on an athlete’s readiness for the training and competition load of an Excellence program.
More coming soon
Centre of Excellence Operations
Excellence Ringette programming will be delivered by formally recognised organisations. Ringette Alberta has used the term Centres of Excellence as a working title for these organizations. These are virtual centres.
More coming soon
2019-20 Season – Planning Phase
Excellence Ringette Stakeholder Meeting took place November 17, 2019. Here is a summary of that meeting. The contributions of the participants will help Ringette Alberta develop an Excellence Ringette implementation plan. Consultation on specific elements within the planning process will occur.
Tutorial Video for Coaches
We have started the process of onboarding the coaches into Personal Sport Record. Above is a video tutorial which explains how to edit coach profiles and add assessments. If you prefer, a pdf guide is also available:
Tutorial Video for Athletes
Above is a short video with some information for athletes to get them started with Personal Sport Record.
Personal Sport Record
We have teamed up with Personal Sport Record to develop a ringette-specific athlete tracking tool. With the help of veteran Alberta coaches, we have integrated the Athlete Development Matrix into Personal Sport Record. Athletes will be able to see their progress through the stages of development through fitness assessments, technical assessment, and self-assessments. In addition, Caleigh Wojcicki has been working with the Alberta Sport Development Centers to establish a more formal relationship between their services and RAB. Teams will have a gateway to access services as they see fit including sport nutrition, fitness testing, mental performance, and sport medicine.
While it is not mandatory for this season, we will be continuing to develop these relationships to provide access to these services for athletes as we move towards this Excellence context. At the very least teams should be participating in fitness testing this year. We recommend completed fitness testing early in the season, mid-season, and end of season. Teams are encouraged to join with other clubs to cost share for the facilities and personnel to complete the testing. Further guidance will be provided along with connecting teams to the ASDCs early in the season.
Webinar – Sept 18
Below is the webinar hosted by Ringette Alberta during the evening of Sept 18. Please contact the office if you have further questions or concerns.
General Context Questions
I’ve heard about different participation contexts. What are they and what is their purpose?
There are six different participation contexts defined in the Ringette Canada Competition Review and Restructuring Report (2018).
Alberta has taken these contexts a little further and adjusted their titles and descriptions to align with what we heard in our research into what the athletes want:
- Learn to Skate (children, youth and adult)
- Intro to Ringette (children, youth and adult)
- Children’s Ringette
- Classic Ringette (youth and adult)
- Flex Ringette (youth and adult)
- Pursuit of Excellence Ringette (youth and adult)
Where can I learn more about the differences between the participation contexts?
How is the Pursuit of Excellence context different from High Performance?
High Performance is a part of the Pursuit of Excellence context. High performance exists in the later stages of athlete development, i.e., Train to Compete and Train to Win.
Depending on which provinces or sports you’re looking at, you’ll see programs for kids as young as 12 being called ‘high performance’. This is simply incorrect. There is nothing high performance about 12 and 13 year old ringette players. There is a time when it is appropriate for athletes to enter an environment which would help them pursue a high performance goal in the future. So, one can be enrolled in a pursuit of excellence program but not be a high performance athlete, yet.
What are the objectives of Excellence Ringette?
From the Ringette Canada Competition Review (2018):
“Excellence Ringette provides systemic (throughout the ringette system across Canada) and systematic (progressive, intentional) training and competition environments, based on Ringette Canada’s Athlete Development Matrix (ADM), with the intention of helping athletes achieve their highest level of performance, and preparing them to represent their province at Canada Games, play in the NRL, and represent Canada at the World Ringette Championships.”
Beyond preparing some athletes for entry to high performance programs, the Pursuit of Excellence context also exists to:
- help individuals fulfill their potential, whatever that may be
- help individuals learn and live the athlete lifestyle
What does Excellence ringette look like?
Excellence ringette will prepare athletes for the environment to become their best while being mindful of their stage of development. The Athlete Development Matrix (ADM) lays out the attributes ringette players should exhibit at each stage of development across all areas:
- Life Skills
Based on the ADM, athletes in Excellence ringette will be provided general, stage-appropriate development benchmarks. With the support of their coaches and other support personnel, athletes will then set personal goals (using the benchmarks as a guide). Coaches and other support staff are responsible for providing an environment for athletes to achieve these goals. Support staff may include coaches, athletic therapists, dryland fitness trainers, nutrition consultants, or mental performance experts. These people are also responsible for appropriate measurement and reporting of athletes’ progress relative to athletes’ goals. This data should be recorded and maintain over the long term using, for example, each athlete’s Personal Sport Record which Ringette Alberta introduced in the 2019-20 season.
The yearly training plan, which all coaches in this environment should have in place for their teams, will be congruent with the overarching purpose of Excellence Ringette and support individual development goals. Ringette Alberta will put systems in place to support coaches in the development and delivery of quality yearly training plans.
Athletes in Excellence ringette should anticipate spending considerable time on the ice or in training. Younger athlete will still be provided time to remain a multi-sport athlete if they wish.
Are we are getting rid of AA?
When people ask this question, it is unclear if they are asking about AA the tier or what they perceive to be a unique (from non-AA) program. We are also not sure if they are concerned about losing what is perceived by many to be an exclusive group and that they want to retain this exclusivity or if they are concerned about what might happen if there were to be ineffective grouping of athletes.
So, here is what we are doing:
- We are ending the confusion between tier and program. We are clarifying the difference between the AA tier and the Pursuit of Excellence Program. From this point forward, AA (and A, B, C) are tiers only.
- We are ending the practice of arbitrary exclusion of people from a type of program.
- We will maintain appropriate grouping (tiers) of athletes for optimal training and meaningful competition.
Who "gets to play" Excellence?
What divisions is Excellence for?
The Pursuit of Excellence environment is for athletes at the Train to Train and later stages; roughly U16 and older.
A question about what to do with U14 needs further discussion with stakeholders but the current thinking is that U14s are given access to an Introduction to Excellence program in addition to their regular (Classic) program. To make this feasible, both programs will need fairly prescriptive parameters to guard against over-training and over-competing.
All athletes who demonstrate readiness (meet a criteria) for the training and competition of the pursuit of excellence environment may enroll provided they complete the athlete agreement, and, where applicable, their parents complete the parent agreement.
Generally, readiness is measured against the attributes found in the Train to Train stage of the Ringette Athlete Development Matrix however, at least in the beginning years of the program roll out, measures of readiness will deliberately be kept very simple. We will define this in consultation with our stakeholders.
I am not interested in playing Excellence ringette; how will this impact me?
You will be able to choose the experience you want, and the coaches and associations are responsible for providing it.
You should see, particularly in Northern Alberta, an improvement in meaningful competition.
I am interested in Excellence ringette; how will it impact me if I choose that environment?
You will be in a program that expects every enrolled athlete to act with a pursuit of excellence mindset. You will be with a group of like-minded and similarly skilled individuals. You will still have teammates and the social connections that athletes value so highly.
You will be connected with coaches and sport science professionals. This is what we call an Integrated Service Team (IST). The IST will help your coaches design and implement (and adjust) an appropriate yearly training plan and keep you healthy throughout the season.
You may see more people at your off-ice activities beyond just your teammates, but all of the athletes will be members of your Excellence ringette program. (i.e you might do large fitness training sessions or nutritional sessions to maximize resources.)
Generally, an athlete should expect to spend about the same time in and excellence ringette program as they do in today’s AA. In some cases, athletes may end up spending less time due to a shift towards quality over quantity.
Transitions and Timeline
When will the Excellnce Ringette context be implemented?
Ringette Alberta will implement the Excellence Ringette environment starting in the 2020-21 season. The status quo is no longer acceptable, however we are mindful of the need for an appropriate pace of change. We are striving to find a balance between doing too much too quickly and waiting for everything to be perfect before we do anything.
Will Alberta be the only province doing this?
Some, like Alberta and BC, have already started the transition and have targeted 2020-21. Others are a little later in the planning process but have started. Some haven’t begun the conversation yet, but it is on their radar.
Eventually, only programs that meet the Pursuit of Excellence program standards set by Ringette Canada will have access to the Canadian Ringette Championship.
Access to other competitions may also be conditional on program standards being met however the governing body of those competitions will set those conditions.
So, why don’t we leave things as they are for now and wait for Ringette Canada to set the deadline?
Regardless of what the eventual deadline ends up being, acting now is the right thing to do for our athletes at the AA, A, B (and C level for U14). If we take action now, we can control the pace of change ourselves and give athletes the benefits of these programs sooner than others who take longer.
I’ve heard there will be standards which Excellence programs must meet. What are they?
Ringette Canada will be taking the 2019-20 season to consult with stakeholders across Canada before finalizing the standards and when those standards must be met.
The provincial associations have already had initial discussions with Ringette Canada on proposed standards and there is general agreement on most however further dicussions is required before the standards are finalized.
How will the standards be enforced?
Each athlete and parent must sign an agreement as a condition of enrollment in an Excellence Ringette program. Equally, the program operators will also formally commit to the athletes (and parents) to meet the standards.
Through these agreements, athletes (and parents as advocates) will be the primary watchdog.
Regardless, there will be periodic audits of each program and formal review. If a program operator is below or struggling to meet the standards, an improvement plan will be put in place.
How will the standards in place in Alberta compare to the rest of the country?
The minimum standards will be universal across Canada.
How will Ringette Alberta decide where these programs are located and how many there will be?
The size and number of regions will be dependent on the number of athletes interested in the program and where those athletes live.
As a general rule of thumb, if a AA program of today is struggling to find a sufficient number of athletes to ice one team at each level, it is unlikely to have a sufficient number of athletes to sustain a quality and affordable excellence ringette program.
Once Ringette Alberta determines how many programs there should be within a region, how will Ringette Alberta ensure a fair and transparent process for deciding who will run one of these programs?
With a general idea of how many athletes need to be served and where they live, a clear process will be established and shared. Applicants will be provided the assessment criteria in advance and appropriate weighting of the various criteria will be established. This will all be put into a standard application.
Our hope is that we can assemble a team of diverse experts to make the decision using the assessment criteria as their reference. The decision making body may include the following:
- Ringette Canada’s Director of High Performance or designate
- Expert from another National Sport Organization with a track record of success in similar programming, e.g., Canada Soccer
- Expert from Own the Podium
- Expert from Sport for Life
- Expert on the female athlete
- Provincial Ringette Association representative
Who, if anyone, is going to oversee the implementation of the program and follow the athletes’ progress?
Ringette Canada will set the standards. Only organizations that meet these standards will be eligible for the Canadian Ringette Championship. This alone should provide much of the oversight necessary for programs to comply.
About athlete tracking; Ringette Alberta has already introduced (2019-20 season) the concept of recording athlete data. One of the standards we’d like to see Ringette Canada adopt is that athlete data be kept over the entire time an athlete is enrolled in the pursuit of excellence program. We’d like to see this expand beyond basic fitness assessments.
How will teams be formed to be competitive at the provincial and national level?
Because Ringette Alberta does not control how teams are formed outside of our province, we can only advocate for an improved system on the national stage. For example, Ringette Alberta has already made the point to Ringette Canada that meaningful competition at the Canadian Ringette Championship has eroded in recent years due to an improper implementation of the opern format of CRC. We will continue to advocate for changes to rectify this.
Within Alberta, teams in Excellence and Classic will be tiered as usual with one significant difference.
Today, any association can declare one or more of its teams to be AA regardless of how those teams compare on the score board to other teams who also declare themselves AA.
Part of resolving this issue is separating program from tier. Teams can be within the Excellence Ringette program but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are equal (tier) to all other teams in the same program. Additionally, there may be teams in different programs (Classic vs. Excellence) that are equal to one another on the ice.
Today, a team that has declared itself AA is highly offended when it is suggested that, for improving meaningful competition, it play at the so called A level even though the scoreboard indicates that is the better fit. Conversely, when an extremely strong A team would be more suited to play against AA teams, it responds with ‘we don’t want to play AA’. The objections in these scenarios are mainly based on the confusion of tier and program.
So, working with our stakeholders we will build a basic guide for initial tiering of teams and, once play begins, make allowances in the team advance / retreat policy for teams to be retiered to create meaningful competition, regardless of what program those teams may be from.
Which teams will go to the Canadian Ringette Championship? Western Canadian Ringette Championship?
Understand that Ringette Alberta does not control either of these competitions. We must work within the eligibility policies these competitions have in place.
If nothing changes with the eligibility policy for these competitions, U16 and U19 teams from the Excellence Ringette program that are designated AA, will be eligible for the Canadian Ringette Championship. Teams from the Excellence Ringette program designated as A will be eligible for the Western Canadian Ringette Championship.
Why the change? If it ain't broke don't fix it.
Below are some key areas where the current ‘AA’ system is not serving our athletes well.
Daily Training Environment
In all divisions, the daily training environment and expectations vary depending on which club you play for and who is coaching the team. This is exacerbated by not having a clear understanding of the differences between a ‘program’ and a ‘level’.
The Daily Training environment may include team practices, dryland training, mental training sessions, warmups, and fitness expectations as they fit in to the team’s Yearly Training Plan. This environment should look different depending on the development stage of the athletes and the context they wish to play in. Defining expectations of a daily training environment provide-wide aligns with our strategic goal to define expectations for athletes and provide the resources for coaches to meet those expectations.
Standardizing the daily training environment has happened recently at the NRL. For the 2019-20 season, Ringette Canada had to take drastic steps to mandate that all National Ringette League teams were meeting minimum quality assurance standards. This in turn will elevate the expectations of this high-performance league. By outlining some minimum standards, Ringette Canada has allowed athletes across the country to expect a high-quality training environment no matter which team they wish to play for.
6 of 7 AA associations in Alberta do not feel any responsibility to contributing (by ensuring their athletes are learning what they should be) to national team success. If programs are not preparing athletes for these later stages, National team coaches have to run remedial training program. Time spent trying to address gaps in athlete development robs time from what high-performance programs should be focusing on. Even worse, the opportunity to compete for a spot on these higher teams is not available for all Alberta athletes if associations do not see this as a responsibility. The opportunity to compete for a spot on a Canada Games team or a National Team should not depend on where you live and which association you played for.
A survey was sent out to U14, U16 and U19 A and AA coaches. Of the 6 respondents, 3 indicated they did not have a yearly training plan (YTP) for their team this season. (As of Nov 1)
For those who indicated they have a YTP, a cursory analysis shows only one reflects the standard established in the National Coaching Certification Program Competition Introduction course.
This indicates to us we need to be providing better resources and education to our coaches about the importance of a YTP. A yearly training plan helps coaches design a sport program that meets the training and competition needs of their athletes. They can develop a program structure based on opportunities for training and competition, establish indicators of athlete development, and develop practice plans that reflect seasonal training priorities. It’s meant to be a working document which a coach can adapt as needed. It lends credibility to the coaching staff and leadership abilities, as well as providing parents with insight into what their athletes should be learning.
Of 17 U16AA and U19 AA teams in Alberta, 0 have provided information or used Personal Sport Record (PSR). This tool was not made mandatory as it represented an extra (albeit extremely low) cost to athletes. Ringette Alberta worked to provide this resource to teams so athletes could begin to understand what is expected of them at their current stage of development and future stages in all areas of the game (technical, tactical, physical fitness, psychological)
Success at the Canadian Ringette Championships, for example, includes showing up for competition healthy, fit, and physically prepared for a week-long competition. Without measuring fitness, or knowing what level of fitness is required, how can a coach or athlete know what they need to work on? How can we know if our athletes are developing and improving if we don’t even have a starting point?
How much time will be participating in this program require?
Generally, an athlete should expect to spend about the same time as they do now. In some cases, athletes may end up spending less time due to a shift towards quality over quantity.
How much is this going to cost?
The Excellence Ringette program is being designed to cost no more than it costs today and, ideally, less per participant than the typical AA program does today. This will be accomplished in two ways:
- Fewer program operators serving more athletes within a region means spreading fixed costs over a broader base of athletes.
- Eliminating / reducing expenses that provide a questionable developmental benefit.
What is the plan to support the coaches?
Coaches (and parents) are obviously integral to athlete success so there will be a parallel parent and coach support system installed with the basics in place for 2020-21 and building from there.
First we determine stage-appropriate markers and expectations for athletes across all facets (defensive/offensive skills, goaltender skills, physical fitness, tactical knowledge, etc). The Athlete Development Matrix (ADM) will be used as a guide.
With awareness of what the High Performance programs need as a baseline, which includes Ringette Canada’s HP personnel defining the “winning style of play”, an annual and formal transfer of knowledge from Ringette Canada HP staff and others to the Pursuit of Excellence Programs across the country will take place. This is to set and re-affirm expectations, i.e., ‘hey coach, in your U16 program this year, you need to be doing this…’.
With expectations set, we can build stage-appropriate yearly training plans (YTP). The support for parents and coaches is then aligned with what they need in order to deliver the on and make adjustments to the YTP.
We will approach it systematically. We’ll look at the quadrants of the ADM to give ourselves structure and then, over time, build the support that coaches and parents need. This support can take on many forms, from face to face information sessions to webinars to video resources… As we progress, we create the curriculum and build and retain the library of resources.
Overall, we’d like to see a progressive and intentionally designed curriculum (for lack of a better word). Some in today’s AA programs say things like, ‘we already do fitness testing and we already get a talk from a mental performance coach or dietician so what will be different?‘ In some cases, there might not be a big difference. However, in this systemic approach, we will design these elements of the program so they are fairly consistent from program to program (location) are progressive as athletes move from stage to stage and are aligned with the objectives of the progrm. Coaches and parents can have peace of mind knowing they are on the right track in supporting their athletes.