Volleyball Libero Facts

Learn A Few Essential Volleyball Rules For The Libero

The volleyball libero is a defensive specialist who wears a

contrasting color jersey that differentiates her from her

teammates. The libero goes freely in and out of the court to take

the place of a front row player who's rotated to the backrow

when the ball isn't in play. 

The volleyball libero position was first introduced In Italy in the late 80's

early 90s.

As a professional volleyball player in Italy, my fellow Americans and I

were playing with liberos for several years before the concept was

officially introduced in the United States in 1999. 

The word "libero" means "free" in Italian. 

The Italian concept of the "libero" meant that a particular

designated player was "free" to roam in and out of the court in the back

row positions to play defense.

That meant, liberos were "free" not to follow the traditional

rules of volleyball for rotation and substitution and they could come

in and out of thegame with few limitations.

Although, the designated libero had a lot of freedom in the back

row to roam anywhere behind the ten foot line, they were actually

prohibited from becoming a spiker who could hit the ball in the front row. 

Libero Volleyball Rules

According to the volleyball libero rules, the player in the libero position is

prohibited from playing any front row or front court position.

They are limited to the back row where they are able to take a

front row player's place to play defense when that player rotates

to the back row.

Okay I promise I won't use the word "free' anymore but I think you get

the point.

Why Was The Volleyball Libero Role Created?

Because of its worldwide popularity, volleyball in European,

Asian, and South American professional leagues, exhibition

games and matches had regularly been televised on local and

national TV stations for much longer than they have in the US.

Outside of the United States many international professional indoor

leagues attract hundreds of thousands and in some places even

millions of spectators

Where there are pro sports with millions of spectators, there are also

a lot of international companies and sponsors that spend money

supporting the sport and paying big contracts to the best players in all

parts of the world.

In order to keep those sponsors interested in supporting the game,

event organizers and the officials in the international volleyball

federations were always looking for ways to make the men's game more


Olympic Volleyball Libero: Stacy Sykora (USA)

The professional men's game was popular but it needed more

spectators because the TV audience was attracted to the women's

volleyball game which kept their attention longer because of

the longer defensive plays and unpredictable but longer rallies.

One of the ways that the "powers-that-be" wanted to make the game

more exciting was to introduce and promote the use of liberos.

You see the men's game in the 70s and 80s and early 90's had always

been a power game with lots of strong hitting and very little defense

since many coaches emphasized front row skills in their practices

like hitting and blocking

In contrast, the women's game

  • drew more television spectators
  • had less power but more finesse,
  • cultivated players who made sneakier and craftier and more
  • unpredictable plays with longer rallies and
  • lot more defense with women rolling and diving on the floor

This type of game drew more fans and increased the TV audience for

televised games.

The skimpy uniforms didn't hurt either. 

Introducing and promoting the role of liberos and by adopting a

few special rules that applied to the volleyball libero position,

international tournament and professional league organizers thought

this new position with its new rules would draw more television

spectators to the men's game because they hoped these elements

would make the game more exciting.

Volleyball event officials hoped that with shorter, more agile

and athletic players coming in for the taller players when they

rotated to the back row would produce more defensive plays

and more exciting, longer and more suspenseful rallies which would

hold the interest of the television audience longer.

The longer the rallies, the more exciting the play, the more exciting the

play, the more spectators, the more spectators then the more sponsors.

This was the thinking of the international volleyball federation


The women's game had more spectators because they already

had longer rallies since pro women volleyball players played more


According to the "experts" this was why there was more suspense and

interest in their games.

To encourage more defensive plays, especially in the men's

professional leagues, the role of libero was promoted and then

officially introduced by the FIVB to help make the men's game faster,

more suspenseful and more TV friendly.

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