What Are The Positions In Volleyball

What are the positions in volleyball

As any sport has positions and tactics, volleyball is not different. Most people don’t understand how the systems work, which can look complicated, but they are, in fact, not. For the team to succeed, having a system is essential, and positions play a crucial role. In this blog post, we will go through the positions which are used on the highest level.

In volleyball, there are five, namely setter, two outside hitters, two middle blockers, opposite, and the libero. Let’s go through them briefly.

  • Outside Hitter
  • Setter
  • Middle blocker
  • Opposite
  • Libero

Setter

As basketball has point guards to make plays, the setters are the ones that make them in volleyball. The job of the passers is to pass the ball towards the middle of the court near the net where the pass is considered perfect; after that, the setters’ job is to distribute sets to the attackers. Regular communication with setters is a must for the sets to be more precise as the setters can regulate the height and speed of the ball by the attackers’ requests.

It happens when pass or defense is not perfect; therefore, having fast legs as a setter is beneficial to set the balls that are far away from the net. Setters should also have excellent court vision; in other words, they should constantly look at the opponent blockers and try to predict in which direction they will go to set the ball as efficiently as possible consequently leaving the attacker with only one block.

Other skills that setters should have

They need to be good at serving, blocking, and defense also. Depending on the game situation, having different serve varieties, either short tactical, float, or jump, will make the setter great. While blocking in front in zone 2, the setter is taking care of the opponent’s outside hitter most of the time, and it is his job to stop him.

Same as other players, the setter should also know when to connect to the triple block depending on the situation. They should also be good defenders, especially for strong spikes; however, if other players can defend or take the tips instead of a setter, they have to take responsibility for these at all costs. Protecting the setter from taking the free balls, should be one of the team’s priorities.

Characteristics

  • Setting to all attackers from outside hitters, opposite and middle blockers to have different variations of attack.
  • Need to have good overview over the game and court vision.
  • Playing defence in zone 2 and zone 1.
  • When in front row being able to make a point directly either with tip or spike.
  • Blocking in zone 2.

Outside hitter

The outside hitter is a position in volleyball that needs all skills from attacking, serving to passing the ball; however, that is not easy to master. Usually, outside hitters have one skill better than the other, so finding the one who is good in everything is hard, even on the highest level of volleyball.

In the passing formation, there are three players, Libero and two outside hitters. Usually, one outside hitter is worse at passing, so it is the Libero’s and the other outside hitter’s job to cover more court. When front outside hitters, in most situations, attack in zone 4, the left side of the court; however, they need to be also great pipe attackers due to being almost half of the game in the back row. They need to be smart also, therefore, knowing how to use the opponent’s block, how to tip the ball effectively, and so on.

Defence and blocking

In the back row, they need to have good defense because many balls that bounce off the block towards zone 6 are defendable, however, it is crucial to have a good vision also if there is a hole in the block they have to position themself and try to dig those spikes that go through the seem. After the defense, the transition to pipe attack needs to be as fast as possible.

Block is another essential skill they need to master, due to most of the time taking care of the opponent opposite, which is usually the main and best attacker. Outside hitters also need to have a good feeling for volleyball and know when to start the approach and connect for the triple block. They don’t want to be late because the team loses one defender in that case. Taking care of the tips behind the block should also be their job to take care of.

Setting the ball as an outside hitter

In modern volleyball, outside hitters also need to set the ball. Because the setter may pass the free ball towards a 3m line to the position of the pipe, and in this situation, the hitter must be ready to approach and either perform the direct attack or set the ball. But that is seen mainly on the professional level of playing, where volleyball players are much more skilled.

Characteristics

  • Playing in the front row mostly in zone 4, when in back row in zone 6
  • Second mostly used attacker after opposite, also used on pipe.
  • Passing the ball in all positions.
  • Playing defence mostly in zone 6 and 4
  • Blocking in zone 4
  • Setting the ball in case setter pass first ball (Mostly on the highest level).

Opposite hitter

The opposite hitter is the position in volleyball that should have the primary responsibility in attack—killing hard balls from sets coming from the deep of the court.
Setter usually gives a certain percentage of sets to each player; however, the opposite should be the one who gets the most of them. In the back row, the opposites play in zone 1, meaning that besides attack, they also need to know how to defend, while in front row zone 2 specifically, the block should be their priority taking care of the opponent outside hitter—in most cases.

Having different varieties of attack from killing the balls on the line or towards diagonal, making tips, and using the block effectively, will make the opposite great. Of course, that applies both for the front and the back row attack. It is important to note also that Opposite hitters usually have the most points due to being always available to attack from the right side of the court.

Opposite hitters as a defenders

Opposites are known to not be great defensive players due to usually being heavy and sluggish. But to play on the highest level, they also need to know how to do that. Defending in zone 1 and 2, lots of balls will be spiked towards them, and they have to be ready to take those. Besides that, tips right behind the block should also be their concern, and they have to be prepared to dive after the ball.
They should also be the players with the second-most blocks of the team behind the middle. That means playing in zone 2, taking care of the outside hitter, and helping on the opponents’ middle blocker. They have to see also when to join the triple block and when not to—depending on the situation.

Opposite hitters should have the strongest serve

Opposites are usually the players who have all freedom on serve. That means they can risk more even in crucial situations, making them the main scoring force that the opponent needs to reckon with.

Characteristics

  • Ussualy the best attacker in the team with most points.
  • Playing defence in zone 1 and 2
  • Diagonal with setter
  • Blocking in zone 2
  • Lots of opposites are left handed

Middle blocker

Usually, it’s said that the middle blocker is the easiest position to play. But that is not the case at all. The name of the volleyball position tells what their primary skill is, and that is blocking; however, for the middle blockers to be great, they also need to have other skills, especially first tempo attack and serve.

Not attack, blocking is middle blocker’s main skill

There are two middle blockers in the court, and the one in the back row changes with a libero after losing a serve; however, the middle blocker’s primary position is in zone 3, middle of the court in the front row. Middle blockers, as players, have to be very smart and need to read the opponent setter well to either block the opponent’s middle or pipe or connect the block on the sides of the net to block wing spikers. On the other hand, they need to react on tips if they are late for the block.

Middle blockers have to be good attackers, and they have to constantly jump whenever the setter sets acting as a decoy pulling the opponent’s middle blocker on him. (Even if they don’t get the set) That’s why they usually get the least balls; however, their attack should have the best percentage.
Different variations of attack middle blockers need to know are close to the setter, push & alma, and behind the setter. We usually also see attack called slide in women’s volleyball, which is rarely used in men’s.

Middle blockers on the highest level in many cases have killer float serve; however, some know-how to make jump serve as well. In many cases, we can also see the new way of serving called hybrid, when players throw the ball as float and perform the spike with the rotation, making that serve extremely hard to predict and can do a lot of damage for the opponent team.

Characteristics

  • When in front row plays in zone 3
  • Back row playing in zone 5 or in some cases in zone 6
  • Having different varieties of tempo attack
  • Having different varieties of serve
  • Jumping on every set, acting as a decoy for an opponent middle blockers.
volleyball, women's, sports-90896.jpg

Libero:

One of the most exciting volleyball positions and in many times, underrated is the libero position. Liberos are the players responsible for making passes and playing defense; however, they should also be the loudest on the court. As primary support on the team, Libero has to cheer others to keep them more motivated. Most of the time, liberos play in zone 5; however, they also need to know how to play other positions, specifically zone 6. If the outside hitter doesn’t perform well or lots of balls are spiked towards zone 6, Libero should be the number one option to take his place and help. Every great libero should take more court on passing, furthermore sometimes even taking one of the outside hitters completely out in order for the team to have the best pass possible.

Being the loudest and fastest on the court is crucial

One of the main values for the liberos should be the fighting spirit. To dig difficult balls, catch tips, and balls that bounce out of the block, they need to be extremely fast with legs. Their job is to keep the ball in the air at all costs. Libero should be the loudest on the court, calling the front row attackers how many opponents are in the block and if the situation allows calling without block. Liberos can change with any player in the back row; however, in 99%, middle blockers are the ones they change. Libero is also limited to some rules mainly; he cannot spike the ball over the net, serve, set in the front of the 3m line with an overhead set.

Characteristics

  • Ussualy replacing the middle blocker in the backrow
  • Cover more court when passing
  • Playing defence in zone 5 sometimes also in zone 6
  • Setting the ball in case setter makes a defence
What is the libero in volleyball Photo: @Corinna Seibert
Urban Toman defence Photo: @Corinna Seibert

Conclusion

That would be all regarding the volleyball positions. We hope you got a good introduction to them and if you are a beginner learn a little bit more about volleyball than before. In addition, your game can improve drastically with quality volleyball equipment, sometimes even with a new pair of volleyball shoes or knee pads. Making the transition from 6-0 to other volleyball systems is not easy and understanding the positions is an excellent first step. In our posts, you can expect many more volleyball tips and guides on using and benefiting from a specific system. Either 6-2, 4-2, and 5-1.

So which position out of these is your favorite and you would prefer to play? Leave the comment down below and let us know.

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