This paper introduces a relative performance prize scheme to best-of-N contests. I develop a theoretical model of the best-of-N contest with intermediate prizes that are distributed based on the players’ relative performance. The model predicts that a relative performance prize scheme both increases the players’ level of effort in certain conditions and decreases the performance differential between the winner and the loser in the contest. Empirically, I investigate these theoretical predictions by employing a natural experiment in the group-stage matches of the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) World League and the FIVB World Grand Prix. The results indicate that the introduction of a relative performance prize scheme induces contest participants to intensify their efforts in certain conditions. However, this prize scheme may ultimately result in teams playing fewer sets in matches.