Nexus Pathway Explained
by USA Field Hockey
Nexus, presented by Harrow Sports, is USA Field Hockey’s Olympic Development Pathway Program, designed to help players take their game to the next level and develop the next Team USA Olympians.
Nexus is an evolution of USA Field Hockey’s former Futures program, open to girls and boys ages 11 to 19, who are committed to their development and serious about improving their understanding of the game and working on individual and team skills and tactics.
Similar to the former program, Nexus has a pathway in which athletes can navigate as they progress through the 3-weekend camp format, Selection Camp and Nexus Championship. Below is an outline of the Nexus Pathway explained to help all better understand the structure.
Training Camp 1/Opening Weekend
In the first weekend, players will be assigned by age group, U-14, U-16 and U-19. Players will participate in a learner-centered environment consisting primarily of game-based activities with complementary skill development. Throughout the weekend, coaches will utilize a new talent assessment tool to provide consistency across regions when viewing and assessing field players and goalkeepers. Specifically, players will be evaluated in the areas of mindset, tactical, technical, and physical skills and attributes. Each player will be supported to build their Personal Development Plan (PDP).
Upon completion of Training Camp Weekend 1, players will be placed into one of four groups to best support their stage of development and their long-term success and enjoyment of the sport: Emerge, Aspire, Perform and Elite. Players will then be assigned a location for their second training camp weekend (the location may be different than the first weekend).
Emerging players are discovering fundamental elements of the game including basic tactical understanding and the associated core skills, such as moving with the ball and moving the ball, fundamentals of defensive and attacking play, or, for goalkeepers, positioning, movement skills, footwork and glove work. These are the building blocks, and players of all physical abilities and potential must develop a strong core and knowledge of the game on which to build and progress.
Emerging players in Nexus will be encouraged to focus on skill development and execution, "The USA Way" principles of play, decision-making and learning through game play and competition, to take them to the next level.
Aspiring players demonstrate a foundational knowledge of the key skills and concepts of the game and will work to gain a deeper understanding of tactics, such as applying "The USA Way" attack and defense principles, becoming comfortable playing multiple positions and, for goalkeepers, assuming a leadership role and the importance of communication for success.
Aspiring players in Nexus will continue to gain confidence in their skills, tactics, and physical abilities, and will improve through game play and challenging competition.
Players in the Perform group demonstrate a level of mastery of the fundamental elements with a proficient understanding and application of foundational concepts of the game. Players in Perform will focus on consistently making good decisions and delivering a wide variety of skills while under pressure. Perform players demonstrate strong physical ability and stamina that allows them to compete throughout games, from start to finish. Field players and goalkeepers at this level will start to understand and adapt to "The USA Way", while demonstrating mindset skills such as leadership and resilience that support their development and performance.
The Perform environment will challenge players in all aspects as they strive toward peak performance.
Elite players have an advanced tactical understanding when compared to others in their age group, supported by consistent performance of core skill execution under pressure. Players at this level demonstrate advanced physical competencies and decision making, understanding how to apply concepts and skills from "The USA Way" in competitive situations.
Elite players will be challenged to become students of the game, set and reset goals, develop resilience, and understand and improve their personal impact on their team, including how they can best build upon and use their strengths to achieve peak performance and positively influence those around them.
Training Camp 2 & 3
Training Camp Weekends 2 and 3 will enable players to focus and build on the areas of mindset, tactical, technical and physical skills that make up "The USA Way". Weekend Camps will use a learner-centered approach that puts the players at the center. All four groups will focus teamwork, collaborative problem solving and individual skills, utilizing game-based activities and skill development to keep players active, engaged, challenged and learning. All weekend sessions will include both on-field and off-field sessions, encouraging self-reflection to stimulate learning, growth and creativity. Pre-training online primers introduce important topics and supplement on-field learning.
Feedback from coaches will be provided through out each session to guide players in creating their Personal Development Plan (PDP). The personal development plan will assist players in understanding strengths and areas and strategies for improvement. Field players and goalkeepers will be evaluated throughout all sessions allowing for movement with the pathway as players meet the tiered milestones to advance to the next level.
After the third training camp weekend, the top female Nexus players from across the country will be invited to attend an additional training weekend where selections to the prestigious Nexus Championship will be made. Approximately 40 percent of the players in each age division will be invited for possible selection. Selection Camps will be held in five locations throughout the United States and will be conducted in a similar format to the training weekends, with both game play and skill development, coaching and assessment. There will be an additional fee for participation in this Selection Camp weekend. Dates and locations will be provided to invited players as available.
Male Nexus players will be provided information about boy’s opportunities and specifically boy’s Olympic Development Pathway Programming, including Regional High Performance Centers.
The Nexus Championship, presented by Harrow Sports, will invite the top 720 female players from three-age divisions to compete Tuesday, July 6 through Wednesday, July 14 in Virginia Beach, Va. Approximately 216 players from the U-14 division (192 field players and 24 goalkeepers), 288 players from the U-16 division (256 field players and 32 goalkeepers), and 216 players from the U-19 division (192 field players and 24 goalkeepers) will work with USA Field Hockey’s Coaching Staff and compete in a five-game tournament. USA Field Hockey will assess and select players for various Junior High Performance opportunities.
The registration process for Nexus 2021 is now open, and different for athletes new to the program and those who have participated in Futures in the past. The Nexus Registration deadline is Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET. To register, visit Nexus Registration.