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14 Myths About the High Performance League

By Ontario Volley ball, 09/04/19, 9:00AM EDT


During the development of the High Performance League, we understand that there can be a lot of confusion and misconceptions regarding the League as it is a significant undertaking. Below are some myths about the HPL that we would like to address:

Myth #1: The Ontario Volleyball Association is trying to force the HPL project on the membership.

The project is to create a high-performance competitive stream has been part of the OVA's strategic objectives that are voted by the OVA board of directors for the last few years. The OVA staff is working closely with the membership and the clubs to create a plan that is as inclusive as possible. The staff is still looking for feedback, suggestions and recommendations on the process of team and athlete selection.

Myth #2: The OVA is trying to control the clubs.

There are multiple ways to create an elite competitive stream. The OVA chose to involve the clubs in the development of the HPL because the belief is that the athletes' best development happens within their club and because the OVA trusts the clubs. The OVA is creating an enhanced competitive structure that HPL teams will have access to in exchange for a commitment from the clubs to work on their identified development gaps.

Myth #3:  The HPL will take the best facilities away from regular competitions.

HPL events will require facilities with two courts where regular competition venues must have three courts. HPL events will be held in venues that are not normally used by the OVA and will not conflict with regular competition venues.

Myth #4: Coaches need to be Performance Coach certified to participate in the HPL.

Coaches must be Advanced Development certified to be a head coach in the HPL and the OVA will support them with furthering their certification by organizing a Performance Coach workshop for all HPL coaches.

Myth #5: Under the current proposal, clubs would be required to cut players that have been with them for many years.

Even though teams are allowed to sign athletes transferring from another club, there is no obligation for teams to select transferring athletes. Selection guidelines are suggested but clubs have the final word on the athletes they want to sign.

Myth #6: The teams that are not part of the HPL will not have a chance to play the best teams.

Clubs consulted during the development of the HPL were clear that they wanted regular teams to have a chance to compete against the HPL teams. This is why the HPL includes a mid-season event in which the top teams from the regular competitive structure will have a chance to play against HPL teams.

Myth #7: The OVA will be telling the clubs how to train their athletes.

The OVA sets the competitive schedule and provides guidelines for clubs to participate in the HPL but won't tell the clubs how to train their athletes. The HPL standards are there to guide the clubs in the growth of their development programs and teams have a lot of flexibility in how they want to meet these standards. The OVA will work WITH the clubs to identify their training gaps and address them in a meaningful way.

Myth #8: HPL teams will not be allowed to go play in the United States.

The HPL calendar has built-in free weekends for teams to go play in the USA.  The chosen weekends are those when many teams, traditionally, already go to American events. HPL teams are encouraged to seek high-level competition outside of the HPL to complement their development program.

Myth #9: Teams that qualify for the HPL are in it forever.

In the current design of the HPL, teams have to qualify each year through their performance at the 17U level or through a qualification tournament. The reason for this is to allow a smaller club that has a strong cohort of players to retain them and qualify that group for the HPL.

Myth #10: Small clubs will never be able to enter the HPL.

A smaller club that has a strong cohort of players could qualify a team for the HPL. If a smaller club has a difficult time attracting enough strong players to qualify a team for the HPL, they could be eligible to have access to a wild card for the qualification tournament. A system is being designed to give a chance to smaller clubs to qualify for the HPL.

Myth #11: The OVA only cares about the elite players who will be in the HPL.

The OVA staff will continue to deliver and improve the services that they currently offer through the regular competitive structure. The HPL will be used to pilot new ideas and test training resources that will then be made available to all members.

Myth #12: All of the clubs have the same objectives, the same chance to reach Premier and should receive the same support.

The OVA has a growing number of clubs that will soon reach 100. It is a mistake to think that all clubs are the same and are equal.  Clubs operate in different contexts, come in a variety of sizes and have different priorities. Clubs have access to different resources, while coaches and athletes also have varying levels of experience, creating differing needs of support from the OVA.

Myth #13: The OVA is trying to divide the membership by creating a tiered system.

Because all clubs have different priorities and needs but all compete in the same structure, the current system forces the OVA to put the same requirements on all clubs. This system creates unfair requirements for clubs that have differing needs. For example, both the small developing club in Trillium and the large well-organized club in Premier must meet the same coach certification requirements. As volleyball participation grows and the gap between the elite player and the recreational player widens, the need to create different competitive streams increases. Other popular sports such as hockey, basketball and soccer had to do this in order to manage their growth and volleyball has reached that level as well. By creating the HPL, the OVA is trying to adapt the support it provides to clubs based on their differences.

Myth #14: The level is going to drop for those who aren't in the HPL.

Current evidence indicates that the level of play outside the HPL will stay the same. The top players in Ontario will already be playing on teams that qualify for the HPL. Thus, no noticeable player movement due to the HPL outside of these teams will be felt. Should there be any player movement due to HPL teams, this would stay in line with the current system as the player movement towards the top-performing teams already happens in the current system and thus the level of play in divisions outside of Premier will not be affected by this. Evidence shows that the high number of players in Ontario supports the notion that the competitive level outside of the HPL will stay the same.

We hope that this clears up any misconceptions or confusion regarding the HPL.