Thursday, 23 May 2024

International Experience Key for Young Beach Athletes

The USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships kicked off on Monday with qualification matches for the 17U girls division in Manhattan Beach, Calif. This tournament draws teams from various divisions who train and prepare for the main draw play set to take place on Tuesday. With players from Canada, Australia, and Puerto Rico, the competition is truly international.

Participating in international events is crucial for young athletes, as members of the Beach Junior National Team discovered during their recent outing at the FIVB U19 World Championships in Nanjing, China. Despite having no prior international experience, the U.S. teams performed admirably. The experience was eye-opening for these athletes, offering them a taste of what it means to compete at the highest level.

Devon Newberry, a participant at the U19 Worlds, expressed her amazement at the experience: “We had no idea what to expect. To have such an experience with the most amazing team. To all support each other and to go through such hard times, all just to play the sport that we love was the best experience.”

Newberry’s partner, Lindsey Sparks, concurred, highlighting the physicality of international play: “Those girls are physical. It’s not like here. We have this spotty game. Those girls just come in hard every time and try to nail the ball at you.”

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Jacob Titus, another player who participated in the tournament, emphasized the high level of play: “A lot of the guys are not necessarily huge, but everybody is able to jump and swing.”

Ali Lamberson, the coach of the Junior Beach Team, stressed the importance of gaining more international experience: “A lot of the European teams play against each other all the time. And they play in the adult events on the European tour. Our kids play a lot of youth events, so they don’t see the power game. We could out-ball-control, we could dig anyone we played. We weren’t used to having to come in hard and hit the ball every time. We weren’t used to having to put a block up so often.”

These insights underscore the need for young athletes to expose themselves to international competition, as it pushes them to improve and adapt their game. It offers valuable lessons that cannot be replicated in domestic play. With this in mind, athletes like Newberry and Sparks are eagerly preparing for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The USAV Beach High Performance Championships serve as a crucial stepping stone in USA Volleyball’s Path to the Podium. This program is designed to identify, evaluate, and develop talented athletes, coaches, and officials who show the potential to represent USA Volleyball internationally. By providing a platform for these aspiring athletes to showcase their skills, the championships contribute to the growth and success of the sport at all levels.

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Q: Why is international experience important for young beach athletes?

A: International experience exposes young beach athletes to a higher level of competition and challenges them to improve their game. It provides valuable lessons and insights that cannot be gained from domestic play alone.

Q: What were the observations made by the U.S. teams at the FIVB U19 World Championships?

A: The U.S. teams participating in the FIVB U19 World Championships found the competition to be physically demanding and more intense than what they were accustomed to. They noticed that international players demonstrate a consistent and aggressive style of play.


The USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships in Manhattan Beach, Calif., provide a platform for young beach athletes to showcase their skills and compete against international teams. Participating in international events, such as the FIVB U19 World Championships, offers invaluable experience and lessons for these athletes. The U.S. teams discovered that international competition is physically demanding and requires them to consistently bring their best game. The tournament serves as an important step in USA Volleyball’s Path to the Podium program, which aims to identify, evaluate, and develop talented athletes for future international representation. The championships contribute to the growth and success of beach volleyball at all levels.