What Age Does AAA Hockey Start? You Might Be Surprised

What Age Does AAA Hockey Start? You Might Be Surprised

AAA Hockey Levels

AAA hockey is the ultimate achievement for every youth hockey player and parent alike. It is positioned as a goal as soon as one realizes that their child has the potential to play hockey. But how early does this journey begin?

AAA hockey starts at nine years old if you consider qualifications. Only the best players in an age level will be chosen for the limited spots available on a AAA hockey team. The AAA hockey journey continues up to the Midget Major classification at eighteen years of age.

From defining AAA hockey, this article continues to explore the preparations and expenses for the elite sport. We have also answered a few FAQs towards the end of the article for your convenience.

What Is AAA Hockey?

AAA hockey is reserved for the most talented youth players of the sport. The game is the highest level of hockey competition in all of North America. AAA hockey has its standards and rules that must be maintained to ensure quality in the game, but district-based differentiations must also be kept in mind.

Essentially the AAA is a high level of hockey played by the youth of the US and Canada. The top tier of AAA was established by USA Hockey, the authorizing body over Amateur and Olympic hockey in the country. USA Hockey has set the game’s designations that determine the young hockey players’ future in the country. Only the cream of the crop is selected for this level of the sport.

High commitment and dedication for something more significant than the individual are a few prerequisites for getting selected for AAA’s top classifications. It is an extreme game that requires extensive practice on ice for nearly seven days every week. This does not include the time engaged in travel, the financial strain, and the off-ice training required. These are a few reasons why AAA hockey is not a cup of tea for everyone.

The AAA hockey teams practice up to four times per week and their average count of games per year remains something above sixty and under ninety! Also, be sure to read our article on how a AAA hockey team is different.

The games begin at 9 to 10 years of age and continue until 18, where each year can qualify as the first one for a given player until they reach the age of 17. The team’s number of players is usually between 15-20 in total. The AAA hockey teams also provide top-quality preparation and training through the best coaches, competitions, and equipment.

The game offers many development opportunities to the players, including individual and professional qualities. The values of team spirit, integrity, and excellence are valuable to every aspect of life!

When Does the Preparation Begin?

As shown in our article on the different minor hockey levels, preparation for AAA hockey begins with Squirt Minor at nine and continues to Midget Major at 18. The nine years of AAA play for the child star players is critical as it gives them the exposure required to play confidently as a professional at every game and tournament.

The sentiments around hockey in the United States significantly differ as opposed to other sports in the country regarding its scouting experience. The Midget Minor classification (aged; 15) begins playing as a draft year to push the preparation to its highest points.

Junior players have an abundance of opportunities to explore other reputable leagues as well. But hockey parents must realize that there is still a strong chance for them not making it to AAA despite playing in a top-rated junior league.

It is an enormous commitment that may require giving up on the other goals that the player might have. It is a decision that must be made rationally in considering every aspect of the game and its costs to the young players’ health and happiness.

Why Is AAA Hockey Expensive?

However, a AAA team does have one downside that must be kept in mind before anything else, and that is the cost of being a member of the team. The direct costs for AAA hockey are divided into additional components that should be considered before deciding to join a team.


Travelling is a critical element of AAA hockey. It happens to be the most significant financial challenge when joining a AAA hockey team. If the whole family decides to travel to watch the games, the costs can quickly become prohibitive for most. The budget for this aspect of joining a team must be heavily considered.


Ice-time costs are another significant expense that goes into the preparation of AAA hockey. The decline in community rinks has led to the creation of costly private facilities. These companies are mostly motivated by profit, which may not always benefit the game’s aspiring talent.

The additions of restaurants, well-equipped gyms, and multiple rinks add value to the ice training experience while assisting the privately-owned facilities in making a profit. This money-making ideology has raised ice-costs to much higher levels than they were before. An hour of ice-training could potentially cost up to $600 if you practice at a private rink.


Coaching for AAA hockey also comes at its price. The experienced trainers and untrained hockey parents may not fully understand the perspectives of each other. The tiring and tedious process of AAA training could exhaust anyone regardless of their professional abilities.

The sheer amount of effort and dedication involved in preparing a team calls for a high price. Some of the overall increase in the cost of training can be attributed to the organizational expenses. When an organization has to train many positions per season and prepares many teams concurrently, then simple math principles show the administrative overhead can be high enough to make one reconsider the price of admission.

The salaries of figures high up in the organizational hierarchy push organizations to increase training fees for each candidate. However, if this helps attract the best talent for the coaching and training staff, it may well be worth the extra costs.


The costs of equipment can be rather outrageous and have been increasing over the last few seasons. From skates to sticks and other gear, everything has experienced a hike in its price. On top of that, the regular outgrowing of a player’s equipment often leaves parents in a sour mood about the required expenses for gear replacement and upgrades.

We’ve covered the average costs of youth hockey equipment in a related article worth reading if you’re interested in learning more about this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should My Child Play AAA Hockey?

Hockey is a fun game that helps people to socialize and remain physically active. AAA hockey is a great sport that builds character, sportsmanship, and personal responsibility in all team members. Exposing your child at an early age in such an environment can help them significantly later on in their life. Also, make sure to read through our article looking into if AAA hockey is worth it.

What Is the Fee Structure for AAA?

The fees for AAA hockey depends on the age group and skill set of the player. The general costs include registration, equipment, insurance, tournament, travel expenses, and ice rental time. Local organizations have different plans that cover accidental insurance and liability coverage as well.

Is AAA Hockey Safe?

The safety of the players is prioritized above everything else in AAA hockey. Fighting is prohibited at minor levels, and penalties are imposed on those who choose to break the rules. The top quality coaching also teaches players how to be safe on the ice in almost any scenario.

What Is the Time Commitment Required?

You may wonder whether you have the time required to put into your child’s progress towards AAA hockey. The level of play defines the time commitment for practice. It could be anything between three to seven hours for practice and additional time for travel per week, as well as time for games.

Final Takeaway

AAA hockey is not just a game; it is a goal for countless young hockey players around North America. However, the benefits of being on a AAA team can come at their own cost. The level of commitment required to excel in the game requires players to start as early as nine and dedicate enormous amounts of time and energy to the sport.