The roles and primary volleyball positions on the court: the setter,
hitters, middle blockers, defensive specialists and liberos and
the responsibilities they each have are usually explained as soon as
you join a new club, high school, college or professional six player team.
greatly just like the physical requirements needed to play each
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Setters are the unofficial leaders on the court.
Although it may not happen all the time, setters are trained to get to
and attempt to set every second ball to one of their three front row or
any of their two non-libero back row attackers or players so that they
can hit the ball over the net.
set she is going to deliver to them.
her hitters hit the ball with the least number of opposing blockers trying to
block their spike attempts.
The role of the setter can be compared to that of a quarterback on a
Setters call the plays, then they run the offense. Shot callers or play
Ideally, the volleyball players in these roles should have good
leadership qualities because they take on the responsibilities of leading
and guiding the team while they are on the court.
defense during each rally so that they can see where there are holes in
the block and/or where there are weak points in the opposing team's
Once they identify those weaknesses they will set the ball to their
hitters that can hit the balls at or through those holes so that her team
scores points consistently.
The goal is to exploit the weaknesses in the opposing team's block and
play one of the important defensive volleyball player positions on the
In the photo below the player wearing the #21 jersey is playing in the
You can compare the middle blocker to the defensive linebacker in
football and the center on a basketball team.
Their primary responsibility once their team has served the ball is to
travel laterally along the net in such a way that they put up a block,
either by themselves or with the help of their outside blockers, against
any of the hitters on the opposing team in an attempt to stop them
from hitting or tipping the ball past the net and into their court.
If a team is on offense, and by this I mean if they are about to be
served the ball, then the players that were middle blockers become
Middle hitters or middle attackers specialize in hitting the ball from the
middle area of the net which is called zone 3 on the court.
On each team there are usually two middle blocking/hitting players,
one that plays in the front row while the other plays opposite them in the
If a team is in the correct rotation, then one middle blocker rotates up
to their front row, when the other one is rotating back to the back row.
And you're right, two middle blockers can never play in the same
Stanford Player Inky Ajanaku
Explains the Day in a Life of a Volleyball Middle Blocker
NCAA champion, Stanford women's volleyball middle blocker Inky Ajanaku, '16, provides a behind-the-scenes look at her typical game day and shows how the Buck/Cardinal Club supports her and her teammates in their championship pursuits.
who excel in passing the ball, playing defense, serving and setting the ball
in the backrow.
The word "libero" means "free" in Italian and it refers to the libero's
ability to move freely in and out of the back court since they can take
the place of any back row player.
The role and requirements of the libero were invented to be one
of the volleyball positions on the court that's exclusively limited
to the back row.
I would compare the libero position to the pinch hitter in baseball.
Her role calls for her to be the one back row player to go in for a
front row player when the front row player rotates to the back row.
of her teammates since she only plays in the back row.
If you were curious as to why one of the players always has a different
color jersey than their teammates, that's to identify them to the
referee, as to which player is the libero.
She can come in and out of the game an unlimited number of times as
long as she comes in for the same player each time.
quickest on your team, the libero could be one of the volleyball
positions on the court which could be a great option for you to aspire to
You can really make a huge difference on your team in this position and
being a starting libero guarantees you plenty of playing time during
The libero is not allowed to hit the ball when any part of the ball is
above the level of the top of the net.
Although she can't block the ball, or attempt to block it, a libero can
set one of her other players if they are in the backrow or front row.
I'm partial to this position, because it's been my favorite of the two
volleyball positions on the court I've specialized in throughout my career
as a high school, collegiate and professional player.
Players who play in this position are also known by another slang
term as left side hitters. They are referred to as "cannons".
Left sides are called the "cannons" because even though they play their
offensive position the furthest away from the setter, they are quite
If the setter can be compared to the quarterback or point guard, then
the outside hitter or spiker would be considered the running back or
wide receiver in volleyball.
The "outside hitter," the "spiker" or the cannon "receives the ball" or
gets set the ball in many different occasions, usually as the third and last
contact allowed for a team.
The outside hitter, usually has the third contact on the ball and is
responsible for sending the ball over the net into the opponent's court
with the goal to score a point.
Regardless of the accuracy of the set an outside hitter may get, they
are responsible for attacking the ball so the end result is a point or
The outside hitter has a selection of ways to attack the ball which
include spiking, tipping, setting, dumping the ball, or attacking it with
an off-speed hit. An outside hitter can kick the ball over if need be.
Their primary job is to score offensive points. They are quite often the
athletes on the team who are quick, jump high, and are physically
coordinated and agile.
They train in practice to hit all sorts of sets so that they can beat the
block by hitting the ball...hard...repeatedly.
If a setter is in trouble, the easiest thing for her to do, is to set the ball
to her left side hitter.
Many times these aren't perfect sets, so a left side hitter puts in hours of
training to hit imperfect sets, so that they can still score points or hit
sideouts off the sets that aren't right where they are supposed to be.
For some, left side hitters are referred to as "vacuum cleaners" because
its their job to clean up all the trash. No offense to anyone, that's just
Just like there are two middle blockers on every team, there are two left
side hitters per team, so when one is in the front row, the other plays
opposite her in the back row.
And just like middle blockers, if a left side hitter is on defense, then she
becomes the left side blocker.
two left side hitters play opposite each other, then who plays opposite
That would be one of the final volleyball positions on the court to talk
about which belongs to the offside hitter, also known as "the opposite"
or right side hitter.
Lots of name for lots of responsibilities.
First, because the right side hitter becomes the right side blocker when
her team is on defense, she is lined up to block the left side hitter of
the opposite team.
trying to block the ball hit by one of the best athletes on the opposing
This alone often makes the right side hitter position one of the toughest
volleyball positions on the court to play in.
Another responsibility of the right side player occurs when her team is
If the setter digs the ball then it use to be the right side hitter's
responsibility to step in to become the temporary setter, now its up to the
libero to set the second ball...
When the right side player rotates to the back row to play defense, the
setter who plays opposite her/him rotates up to the front row.
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