Best With Best
Young volleyball athletes who want to take the next step on their path to the podium can now be part of the new USA Volleyball National Team Development Program (NTDP).
NTDP replaces the USA Volleyball High Performance program. Since the 1990s, USAV High Performance has identified, evaluated, trained and developed young athletes to build a sustainable pipeline of future Olympians and Paralympians. Volleyball has flourished into the most popular high school team sport for girls and the fastest-growing high school sport for boys in the U.S.
The NTDP will increase the opportunities for athletes to be seen and evaluated and to develop within the USAV National Team system.
“As the popularity of volleyball continues to grow in the United States, USAV needs to grow with it,” USAV Chief of Sports Dr. Peter Vint said. “Throughout the past year, we have challenged the way we have done things and have worked toward a better and more robust system of identifying and developing athletes.”
The NTDP will be a fluid system with an athlete-centered focus that emphasizes the health, well-being and overall development of each individual player. Indoor, beach and sitting volleyball players will have increased opportunities to play with and against the best athletes from across the country and to learn from some of the best minds in the game.
“Aligning our National Team Development Program with the philosophies, methodologies and culture of our national teams is important to sustain competitive excellence in our sport,” U.S. Women’s National Team Assistant Coach / NTDP Senior Manager Erin Virtue said. “I am proud of our NTDP team for the research, time and passion it has put in throughout this difficult year. We have more work to do and we are excited to roll out these new initiatives in 2021.”
Age-group categories will begin with girls under-15 and boys under-16 with the oldest age groups for both genders being under-21. Athletes U15 and older may participate in the NTDP Training Series held quarterly at locations across the country. A new series of local events called NTDP Accelerators will offer athletes the chance to train against top competition in their area.
Younger athletes may participate in USAVplay. These single-session and summer-camp programs allow any athlete to participate in a development-focused training session.
There will not be tryouts for the NTDP. Athletes will be selected to NTDP training and competition via a nationwide scouting network. Scouts from around the country will be selected to identify athletes at qualifiers, bid events and high school/club tournaments across the United States.
More details will be made available, including information about upcoming training events, in early 2021. Questions can be emailed to email@example.com.
Why the NTDP is a Better Model
“Player development and coach development…those are not just clean, easy, smooth paths. Some people develop more quickly; some people take a lot longer and they’re late bloomers; some develop and then slow down and come back up. We just don’t want to have anyone slip through the cracks; anybody who could be a contributor to our senior national teams at some future time.”
NTDP General FAQ
We want to improve alignment across all of our performance-oriented programs have more explicit connection between our high potential youth development programs and our national teams.
It’s important to understand that this whole program is about improving the quality and quantity of high potential players that can someday contribute to the sustained competitive excellence of our national teams.
Through a variety of communications, it was clear that the “High Performance or “HP” names carried some negative connotation. We wanted a clean break from the past and carve out space for this new direction that would not be encumbered by past impressions.
The NTDP will do things differently and start fresh, with a new name and rebrand, affording the chance to define ourselves more clearly.
There will be zero cost for the families throughout the identification phase of the NTDP. By removing our tryout process, these costs are also removed.
Costs for the National Team Development Training Series (NTD Training Series), High Performance Championship (HPC), National Team Development Accelerators (NTD Accelerators), National Team Development Academy (NTD Academy) and USAV play will be posted soon.
Athletes selected to an age-group national training team will have $0 cost. Age-group national training teams will meet and train together to prepare for, travel to, and compete in international NORCECA and FIVB events
We recognize that kids are already training and developing within their school and club programs. Some will also pay to attend camps that may offers some positive development experiences as well. Our programs don’t change that.
However, the National Team Development Training Series (quarterly camps for the highest potential young players as selected by our scouting network) and the National Team Development Accelerators (monthly-ish training sessions for the next highest potential kids as identified by local clubs and regions) will provide more and better “best with best” training opportunities than USAV has held in the past. This will help provide unique challenges for kids to test themselves against kids that are playing at their level. That is good for development.
What about levels beneath this? Nothing is different. Kids will still play in their school and club programs. Kids will still choose to attend camps. Those who are inspired, put in the work and want to improve their game will have opportunities to be seen by our scouting network (simply by playing in tournaments) and to be nominated by their local clubs or regions to attend Accelerators. Some of those kids will advance from one level to the next. However, and importantly, NONE will be excluded from earning opportunities to be seen or nominated.
We will be offering a new kind of experience for young players for those new to the game. These will be called USAVplay and will be run in multi-day summer camps and one-off “pop-up” clinics. These programs will focus on all-around skill development through developmentally appropriate, high-repetition, position-agnostic activities that provide kids with far more opportunities to touch the ball, try new skills and enjoy the game in the process.
The NTDP age groups are structured to more clearly reflect FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) age groups.
Born in 1999
Born in 1999
Born in 2001
Born in 2001
Born in 2002
Born in 2002
Born in 2003
Born in 2003
Born in 2004
Born in 2004
Born in 2005
Born in 2005
Born in 2006
Born in 2006
Born in 2007
Yes. The NTDP will remain an open and fluid system. Athletes develop and mature at different rates, so identification and evaluation methods will remain continuous. Unfortunately, injuries do happen in youth/junior sport; this is one reason that we must remain diligent in our fluid approach to talent identification. If an athlete is feeling burned out, it’s important that they communication that with their family and do not feel pressure to attend NTD programs and events. The well-being of our athletes is our top priority.
For boys, athletes will begin being selected in the U16 age group, while for girls this selection will begin taking place in the U15 age group. Athletes will be selected to NTDP training and competition events via a newly developed, nationwide scouting network. The NTDP Scouting Network will comprise some of the most highly respected collegiate coaches and recruiters from around the country. NTDP Scouts will be responsible for seeking out and evaluating athletes at qualifiers, bid events and high school/club tournaments across the United States. This will be a comprehensive and coordinated effort focused on finding the very best young volleyball players in the country. If you’re out there, we will find you!
With the NTDP, athletes will only be selected after reaching puberty. Research on growth, maturation, and the Relative Age Effect, indicates that athletes who are “early maturers” in terms of biological age (physical growth and maturation) are disproportionately selected when compared to athletes who are “late maturers.” With this in mind, the NTDP will delay selection of athletes until later in their biological development.
Selected athletes can be chosen for any one of USA Volleyball’s age group national teams or the NTD Training Series. These programs will take place throughout the year and will provide more opportunities for athletes to train and compete best with best. More information to come soon!
The NTDP will also be offering NTD Accelerator events. These sessions will take place in areas with a large volleyball population density and will include athletes primarily nominated by coaches or club directors. Once nominated athletes will have the opportunity to be invited by the NTDP to participate in one of these sessions. Thus, providing yet another opportunity to be seen and to train with the best in the area.
For athletes that do not yet fall into one of the age groups for selection to the NTDP, they may sign up to participate in a USAVplay PopUp or the USAVplay Summer Camp. These open registration events allow for younger athletes or any athlete new to the game to participate in a fun, development focused training session!
“Athletes develop and mature at different rates, so we needed a new approach to the identification and evaluation of athletes.”
Director, Sitting National Teams
We know this is a big change for our USA Volleyball community, so we are working to provide as much information as possible.
Our full NTDP FAQ page will answer many of your questions.
Sean Scott, Director of Beach National Teams
The Importance of NTDP
Bill Hamiter, Director of Sitting National Teams