Ever notice that smaller court in the convention center at Opens, where play is moving faster than most regular volleyball games? That’s where you’ll find sitting volleyball, a Paralympic discipline of the sport.

USA Volleyball has been the NGB for sitting volleyball since June 2014, though USAV managed the program long before then. The game continues to grow in small pockets around the country, yet the number of officials who have had the opportunity to be trained for sitting volleyball hasn’t. This will change beginning in May 2020.

At this year’s Opens in Minneapolis, the Officials Development Department will offer the first training program for national-level officials to learn sitting volleyball, gain experience in working high-level matches, and earn the first-ever endorsement as a USA Volleyball Sitting Volleyball Referee.

Why an endorsement versus a certification? The World ParaVolley rules of sitting volleyball are nearly identical to those of the standing indoor game. Therefore, all volleyball referees will already be familiar with the key foundations of calling the game. Only a handful of rule differences and a technique change for observing the infamous ‘butt-lift’ will be discussed and practiced in real time. Therefore, only an endorsement is necessary.

Related: About Sitting Volleyball | Women’s Sitting National Team | Men’s Sitting National Team

It’s true that referees might not yet be able to use the endorsement much. Besides Opens and the Warrior Games, annual sitting tournaments are only held in in Omaha, Neb., Hampton, Va., Raleigh, N.C., Edmond, Okla., Houston, Texas, and Los Angeles, Calif. However, the game though is growing, and that will mean new opportunities to officiate. Additionally the next international candidate will hopefully come through this training program.

The Opens training program will initially be limited to four to six referees. Prior to the start of the sitting division, there will be a rules seminar for the candidate officials that will discuss the differences in the game, provide situational video for review, and give an opportunity to demonstrate techniques.

During the first day of competition, candidate referees will work alongside international referees, take part in match debriefs, and be provided with video feedback to help show each official’s execution. On day two, candidates will have the opportunity to work together and receive additional feedback following each match while being further mentored. By the end of training, we will have our first-ever USAV Sitting Volleyball Referees.

Referees interested in earning their sitting volleyball endorsement can register for the training program in early spring. They are expected to be already working at Opens and will simply become part of the training program in the late evening on the Sunday through Tuesday.

There will be a small registration fee, and candidates will forfeit the match fees in which they work during the training program to cover the cost of having the international referees there to mentor. However, officials taking part in the program can remain in USAV housing for no additional cost and can earn pay for any matches assigned outside of the training program.

More details and specifics will be shared in late winter as we start to gear up for Opens. Be ready to apply!