COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Beach volleyball will be back into full swing in February as the U.S. plays host to the FIVB World Tour with the first stop of the Swatch Major Series in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

What’s new to the FIVB World Tour in 2017 is a categorization system that classifies events by one to five stars based on a variety of things like prize money, points, quality of facilities and competition format. In 2017 there are five 5-star events, two 4-star, four 3-star and nine between 1-2 stars.

The change to a star categorization was implemented beginning in 2017 to allow hosting opportunities for all types of organizers, like Malaysia who is hosting the country’s first beach volleyball tournament.

Not only will the star ratings help with expanding the FIVB World Tour, it encourages the pipeline of getting athletes into the professional realm. One to three star tournaments are geared to the grassroots level, while four and five star will feature the Olympic-bound competition.

The 2017 Swatch Major Series starts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, returns the FIVB World Tour back to the U.S. From Feb. 7-12 the world’s best of beach volleyball will be back on Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, the host of 2015’s World Tour Finals.

The event will draw a large contingent from the USA and as the first five-star FIVB tournament of the year, it will pack the house with the brightest teams in the world. Click here for more information.

Looking to experience beach volleyball first-hand? Get in on the action by volunteering to work this event! The Swatch Major Series is registering volunteers until Jan. 29, for the positions of: sport staff, VIP/Players, PR and social media, center court entertainment and will call/event information. C

The 2016-2017 Junior Beach Tour has been underway since Sept. 2016 and continues with events being added to the schedule on a weekly basis. This winter there are seven tournaments remaining in Dec. and Jan., spanning five different states. Thus far, 71 tournaments are slated for the season, which ends in July at the Junior Beach Tour Championships.

USA Volleyball contracted Marcio Sicoli and Jose Loiola back in November as the upcoming FIVB Under 21 Beach World Championships, which will be played in June of 2017. Sicoli is best known as the coach of Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross’ Olympic bronze medal run in 2016 and gold with Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor in London in 2012. Loiola, an Olympic athlete himself, has coached numerous U.S. teams on the FIVB World Tour.

This week the High Performance program will host Team Trials for both the men’s and women’s teams to earn berths for the World Championships. The winner of the Trials, Dec. 20-23 in Chula Vista, will serve as USA’s main draw entry.