The Player Pathway, formerly the Single System was launched in October 2016.

The Player Pathway provides an environment that helps all junior players realise their potential, whether that means they are the best club player that they can be, seek a lifelong commitment to the game through coaching, or volunteering, or perhaps go on to represent England or Great Britain at junior or senior level.

The Player Pathway is made up of the following tiers:

Development Centres – provide a local entry point to the player pathway for U13s – U17s

Academy Centres – delivered in 49 counties, provide a high quality talent programme for identified players in U14 – U17 age groups

Talent Academies (formally Perfomance Centres) – are based across the country providing frequent, high quality training with the best coaches for U15 and U17 players. Exeter University is the the centre for players in the South West area. 

Futures Cup – supports player development within a high-intensity and pressurised best v best tournament environment

Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) – programme provides additional training and sport-related education for U17 players selected from Performance Centres

National Age Group Squads (NAGS) – are selected at U16 and U18 age groups for girls and boys. NAGS provides the first taste of international competition for our young players

U21/Development Programme – is an elite training environment for players who aim to transition into the senior programme and become world-leading players

The Player Pathway is the development pathway for players, coaches and officials of all ages and abilities to reach their full potential.  It is based on Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) principles that put the participant at the centre of all decisions, with extensive scientific research that has been widely accepted by the majority of other major sports within England.

Why does hockey have a Player Pathway?
The purpose of the Player Pathway is to make opportunities for participants fair, equitable and consistent.  It is to ensure that a suitable level of coaching and competition is offered for people at the appropriate stage of their development and to maximise the chance they have of fulfilling their potential whether that potential is as a club or International player, coach or official.

How can I access the Player Pathway?
The Player Pathway can be accessed by playing at school, a local club or attending one of the local Development Centres. The first time a player accesses the player pathway they must enter at DC level.

Which Age Group?

England Hockey have received requests to consider an amendment to the current age banding protocols which exist in the Player Pathway. Players are currently banded based on their year of birth (1 January – 31 December) with the request to adapt age banding, linking instead to school age (1 September – 31 August).  

Currently the international, England Age Groups and player pathway activity is based on the calendar year e.g., U15 refers to players 14 or under on 1 January. Clubs and schools use the academic year e.g., U15 refers to players 14 or under on 31 August. This means there is a four-month disparity across the environments, commonly known as age trapping. 

England Hockey has considered, in consultation with the Player Pathway Committee, whether to revert to the 1 September age band for County (Sub Area) hockey. 

Reasons to change:  

  • Simplifies administration by aligning Player Pathway activity with clubs and schools. 
  • Easier for players, parents, coaches, and all involved to understand. 
  • Most players move ‘through’ the age groups with their peer group. 
  • Disparity in age bandings/ and issues of age-trapping will only impact a small number of players at England Age Group level rather than a larger number involved in the Player Pathway.

 Therefore, from 1 September 2023 the following age bands will come into place in County (Sub Area) Hockey. 

2023/24 Age Groups DOBSchool Year 
U13Sep 09- Aug 10Year 8
U14Sep 08- Aug 09Year 9 
U15Sep 07 – Aug 08Year 10
U16Sep 06 – Aug 07Year 11
U17Sep 05 – Aug 06Year 12 

– Please note Devon AC runs at U14, U15 and U17. 

– Strong players in years 7 and 8 maybe included in U14 AC. 

–  U17 is a combined group of U16 and U17. 

If you’re still unsure please email – [email protected]