Volleyball is a fast-paced and dynamic sport that requires teamwork, skill, and strategy. To play the game effectively, it's important to understand the different positions and their roles on the court. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at each position and what makes them unique, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of the sport. From the setter to the libero, we'll delve into the responsibilities and skills required of each player, giving you the knowledge you need to elevate your game to the next level. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player, this blog is your ultimate guide to the exciting world of volleyball.
What are volleyball positions?
Volleyball positions are the specific roles that players fulfill on the court during the game. They are categorized into three main types: offense, defense, and setters. Each position is assigned to a specific location on the court; these spots are fixed and unchanging. For instance, outside hitters typically occupy the left front-court position, which is known as the 4th spot on the court.
In volleyball, there are six designated positions on the court, which are referred to by their number, such as the "5 positions". When forming a team, coaches usually aim to have at least two players for each position to allow for substitutions during the game. As a result, volleyball teams usually have a roster of between 10 and 14 players.
Volleyball positions on the court
The main positions in volleyball are Setter (S), Outside Hitter (OH), Opposite Hitter (Opp or RS), Libero (L), and Middle Blocker (MB or MH).
Also, a team can have a defensive and serving specialist according to the coach's playing styles; these two positions are less common outside the USA.
From the picture above, we will focus on the main five positions in volleyball and six out of the nine areas highlighted inside of the picture (area 1,2,3,4,5,6).
The setter in volleyball
The setter (S) distributes the ball to their teammates. They are the key playmaker and determine the direction of the team's attack.
In the game, the player who touches the ball more times overall is the setter, located often in positions 1 and 9 when playing back row and position 2 when playing front row (closer to the net). The setter is responsible for getting to every second ball or touch and running a team's offense.
Also, the setter position requires superior communication skills to run plays and lead the team. In the same way, a setter must understand how to break the other team's defense system and distribute every second ball to put the hitter in an advantageous position to score.
A good setter has excellent ball control, court awareness, and decision-making skills.
Libero in volleyball
Another position in volleyball is the libero (L), which commands a team's defensive line. A libero is specialized in passing the ball, setting the ball from the back row, playing defense, and serving in the case of American volleyball, where a libero is allowed to serve.
Also, the libero wears a different jersey to contrast with his or her teammate's jerseys, and depending on the rotation, the libero switches from the inside to the outside of the court (and vice versa) several times in a match.
Furthermore, the libero position requires an individual with leadership skills and agility to command the defense and save plays. The libero covers positions 5 and 7 (refer to Figure 1).
A good libero has quick footwork, good ball control, and excellent passing skills.
The outside hitter in volleyball
The outside hitter (OH), aka Pin hitter, is typically the most athletic player on the court. They are responsible for attacking the ball from the front row and playing defense from the back row.
The outside hitter is responsible for attacking and blocking on the left side of the court, as well as passing, defending, and serving. An outside hitter needs to master offensive and defensive skills.
To perform well as an outside hitter requires a physically coordinated athlete able to score points and dominate the first touch to perform a perfect pass toward the setter. Also, the outside hitter plays in positions 4 and 6 (see Figure 1).
A good outside hitter has a combination of power, accuracy, and versatility.
The opposite hitter in volleyball
The opposite hitter (Opp/RS) (also known as a right-side hitter) is typically the second attacker and is responsible for hitting the ball from the back row. They often play as backup Setter and may be called upon to set the ball in certain situations.
The opposite hitter also has an important offensive role, like the outside hitter but does not require a player with superior defensive and passing skills. The opposite hitter position must be filled by a physically strong athlete who can jump high and focus on the offensive game by scoring points and serving hard. Also, the opposite hitter plays in positions 2 and 1, depending on the rotation (figure 1).
A good opposite hitter has good ball control, versatility, and a well-rounded skill set.
The middle blocker in volleyball
The middle blocker (MH), aka middle hitter, is responsible for blocking shots at the net and attacking the ball in the front row. They also play defense in the back row.
This player is often the tallest on the team and must block and jump high to facilitate his or her team's defensive system. A middle blocker is required to master blocking skills and fast temp attacks.
Also, the middle blocker needs to read the other team's offense to understand where and how to block the opponent player. Middle blockers play in positions 3 and 7 depending on the rotation and if the middle is serving.
A good middle blocker has a strong arm swing, good timing, and effective footwork.
What are the basic positions in volleyball?
Setter (S): Second touch, set, offensive leader, communicating.
Libero (L): Defensive leader, quick, agile.
Outside Hitter (OH): passing, attacking, and serving skills.
Opposite Hitter (Opp or RS): The team's main scorer, serving, and blocking skills.
Middle Blocker (MH): The main blocker of the team, tall.
Serving Specialist: Serving powerful serves and smart serves.
Defensive Specialist: Outside hitter who has outstanding passing and defensive skills.