Opposite hitter in volleyball (1)

In volleyball, the opposite hitter is usually the best scorer on the team, so it’s no question why they are traditionally the most paid players on the teams.

The difference between opposite hitters and other positions is they focus mainly on spiking and serving, though those are not their only required skills. Playing primarily on the right side in zone 1 and 2, they must also know how to defend, block, and sometimes even set the ball.The opposite hitter always starts diagonal of the setter; for example, if the setter’s starting zone is in zone 3, the opposite hitter begins in zone 6.

After the serve, they always move to the right side of the court.

Positions where opposite hitters play primarily in zone 2, and 1 / With one exception when the team is passing the serve, and the setter is in zone 1, opposite play in zone 4 until the end of the action.

Now that you briefly know the opposite hitter in volleyball let’s take a detailed look at the specifics and how the teams use the position!

Opposite hitter tasks

The opposite hitter should be the main attacking force in the team

The attacks are the main actions in volleyball where the most points are scored, but the team needs a great setter to distribute sets properly so the hitters can execute them successfully.

Usually, the opposite hitters are the players who get the most sets and need to execute as many points as possible.

To do that, they need to have different variations in attack, from spiking the line & diagonal, making tips, and if they can, using the block either to make a block out or replay the action.

Attack from zone 1 is usually more challenging than from zone 2 because;

  • first: the player needs to be careful not to step over the 3m line;
  • second: it is harder to make a replay due to the farther distance from the block
  • third: transition in the front row is much easier than the back row

That’s why many teams use the double substitution, allowing the team to have the opposite hitter in front three whole rotations.

Milija Mrdak / Opposite hitter attack from zone 2
Milija Mrdak / Opposite Hitter attack in zone 1

Blocking the opponent’s outside hitters

Besides attack, they have to put the focus also in the block when they are in the front row.

They mainly block the opponent outside hitter; however, opposites should also be ready to help on the first tempo, especially if the opponent’s middle blocker approaches alma or push, set 2-3m in front of the setter.

The block’s position should depend on the team’s demands, either close the line or the diagonal.

If the situation allows, the opposite hitter must also be ready to connect to the triple block, but it’s crucial to signal the others to perform it properly; Usually, players do it with a simple word: Three!

It is important to note that when a team goes for a triple block, they have to close the line, which is the usual rule in volleyball.

It is said that opposite hitter doesn’t need to be a good defender

In zone 1, the opposite hitters play almost half of the game, meaning they must be decent defenders at least. No one wants easy balls to fall on the ground. They must be ready to defend tempo, diagonal, line if it’s open, and even take responsibility for the tips behind the block if they can dig it.

In zone 2, there is usually less defense involved; however, they must be ready to defend sharp diagonal spikes and help the libero with the tips that go towards the middle of the court.

Milija Mrdak / Opposite hitter defense in zone 1

Opposite hitters are usually the strongest servers on the team

To make as much damage for the opponent team, and if the situation allows, the opposite hitter should have the permission to serve as strong as possible, which is essential on the highest level of volleyball. If we look either in men’s or women’s, they mostly use jump serve, which can be extremely difficult to pass if executed properly, with enough speed.

You can see that even when the game is tight, players risk because if not, they are basically giving the free ball over the net, leading to an easy point for the opponent.

Sometimes they need to pass and set as well.

In most cases, passing and setting is something opposites don’t do, although sometimes they need to help other receivers if the opponent’s server does a lot of damage.

The same is with the set; they must be ready also to set the ball to the outside hitter in zone 4 if the situation comes to that.

The opposite hitter is an excellent position for left-handed volleyball players.

One of the facts for the opposite hitters is that many of them are left-handed players. Because they play on the right side of the court most of the time, being lefty has its advantages. Spiking the line is much easier.

They are usually taller than other players, and they are not hard to miss on the court like middle blockers.

But there are some exceptions: Juyi Nishida is the Japanese who defines the rule of height on the opposite hitter position, and at 185cm, he is one of the best in the volleyball world.

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Photo: Pexels

Opposite hitters and injuries

Like middle blockers, the opposites are usually more prone to joint injury due to their heavier build and many jumps. Often, you can see them wearing various compression equipment, which helps improve stability and blood circulation. Incrediwear is one of the brands we trust and use and would recommend to anybody dealing with joint or muscle problems.


Asics Sky Elite FF (MT) 2


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Why is it called an opposite hitter?

The opposite hitters are called that way because their position is opposite of the setter. Their leading playing positions are the same as setters in zone 2 in the front row and zone 1 in the back row. Their primary skill to master is attacking, as they usually get the most sets.

What’s the difference between opposite and outside hitter?

The main difference is that outside hitters also need to receive, while opposites don’t. Outside hitters mostly attack in zone 4, the right side of the court, while the opposite attack in zone 2 and 1, the left side of the volleyball court.

How tall are opposite hitters in volleyball?

Opposite hitters are usually together with middle blockers, the tallest players on the court. The height can play a significant role in the attack and serve. However, there are some exceptions. One player defines the rule that the Opposite hitter needs to be tall. With only 186cm, Yuji Nishida is one of the best in the world. But the average height of opposites is 200cm.

What are the rules for opposite hitter in volleyball?

When the opposite attack from the back-row, they need to be skillful enough to jump and attack behind the 3m line. If they step on the line, the point will be given to an opponent. Otherwise, rules are the same as for any other position on the court except the libero. For more volleyball rules check out our guide: Basic rules in Volleyball.

Who is the best opposite hitter ever?

There are some great opposite hitters playing today. Maxim Mikhaylov, Bartosz Kurek, Stephan Boyer, but the best that ever played is, in our opinion Ivan Miljkovćč, Serbian Beast, who has already Retired and is the president of the Serbian national federation.


Front Row Responsibilities

  • Attacking in zone 2 and 4
  • Blocking in zone 2 and 4
  • Defense

Back Row Responsibilities

  • Attacking in zone 1
  • Defense in zone 1
  • Serve

So, to wrap it up, the opposite hitter is a position that needs to be the best attacker, leading scorer altogether to be the best offensive threat of the team; therefore, if that is something you want to do in your volleyball career, we will include tips and guides on how to become a better opposite hitter in other blog posts.

Regarding the opposite hitter position, would you like to add something that we might miss? We will be happy to hear your thoughts.

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