2 Apr 2024

Big turnout for first national team camp under new talent structure

Big turnout for first national team camp under new talent structure

The first full national team camp under Volleyball England’s new Talent programme structure was staged over the weekend, for players in the U18 and U20 age categories.

Across the Easter weekend, more than 120 athletes gathered at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering, with those born 2008 and earlier in attendance for four full days and those born 2009 and later for two. 

Along with twice-daily training sessions, camp participants also had their height and standing reach measured, their jumping ability tested in three different ways, and were evaluated on court speed and change of direction.

Read more about Volleyball England's new talent programme structure.

During one of the off-court education sessions, they were shown where international athletes fall in key metric areas to give them a sense of how they stack up in this physical domain. 

There was a lot of additional off-court work too, as the players had two educational sessions each day, and a little bit of ‘homework’ to do in the hotel at night as well. 

Coaches and Talent staff used the opportunity to both share the expectations and requirements of performance athletes at the national team level, and to gather information of use in helping move the England programme forward.  

“We went into the camp knowing that, as a first go in the new approach, it wouldn’t be exactly what we ultimately want these camps to become, but that it would be a learning experience for all of us – and hopefully a great one for the athletes as well,” said John Forman, Volleyball England Strategic Manager for Talent. 

“I had two main points of emphasis for the camp... the first was creating a performance environment where the focus is mainly on how we’re trying to play as England teams rather than on skill development, which really has to happen at the club level. That is a work in progress, but we definitely took strides. 

“The second point was providing useful feedback to every attendee – and their club coaches - to help them continue their progress and increase their chances of being selected for future camps. Each player will be getting that feedback shortly.” 

Reaction to the camp has been very positive. Members of the U20 age group men’s cohort – who got to hear directly from National Team Head Coach Simon Loftus on what he looks for in U22 and Senior players – said they liked the bigger focus on what they collectively need to do to succeed against international competition.  

And among the younger group, one parent emailed: “This is a weekend that I know my child will never forget, as I am sure will be the same for many of the girls and boys, giving them a taste of what they could aspire to be.” 

Now the staff and coaches turn their attention to the next camp, planned for the last week of August, which will be a selection camp for the squads going to NEVZA in October. 

For more on the England Talent Pathway, watch the Town Hall from February by clicking here.