Volleyball Libero Facts Defensive Rules Responsibilities and History

The volleyball libero is a specialist in digging, passing and playing in the backcourt who wears a contrasting color jersey and has defensive responsibilities.


The 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 volleyball libero position was first introduced In Italy in the late 80's early 90s.The volleyball libero position was first introduced In Italy in the late 80's early 90s.


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.

Volleyball Libero Facts Defensive Rules Responsibilities and History and more on Improve Your Volleyball.comVolleyball Libero Facts Defensive Rules Responsibilities and History and more on Improve Your Volleyball.com


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 the game 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. 


Florida Gators libero passing a ball. (Matt Pendleton photo)Florida Gators libero passing a ball. (Matt Pendleton photo)

Libero Volleyball Rules


Volleyball Libero Facts Defensive Rules Responsibilities and History and more on Improve Your Volleyball.comVolleyball Libero Facts Defensive Rules Responsibilities and History and more on Improve Your Volleyball.com


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.


Volleyball liberos are back row players able to take a front row player's place to play defense when that player rotates to the back row. (Matt Pendleton photo)Volleyball liberos are back row players able to take a front row player's place to play defense when that player rotates to the back row. (Matt Pendleton photo)


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 exciting.


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

A town volleyball libero in action digging. Denis Wright photoA town volleyball libero in action digging. Denis Wright photo


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 positioninternational 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 officials.

The women's game had more spectators because they already had longer rallies since pro women volleyball players played more defense.

According to the "experts" this was why there was more suspense and interest in their games.


Why Not You? // By Stacy Sykora @sykora three-time Olympian, 2008 Silver Medalist // FULL ARTICLE LINK IN BIO . “why not you?” This is so true. If you have a dream, why not you? Why her? Why did Stacy Sykora from Burleson, Texas get to live her dream? Who knows. That means anyone can do it. Why not you? Why me? . Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe this. You should try for everything that you want. Everything. You never know. I did not know when I was 10 years old that I would be a three-time Olympian with a silver medal. What I did know is that I wanted to be an Olympian and I did everything that was in my control to try and accomplish this dream. Fourteen American Female Volleyball players will go to the next Olympic Games. Not one human being knows if they will make it. No one knows. Why not you? . Practice makes perfect. Keep practicing. When you take a day off, there is someone, somewhere in the world, training and trying to be better than you and now they have one day up on you. Never take a second for granted because you never know if that next second will come. Dream and dream hard. Try to make all of your dreams a reality. Everyone has a story. Every story was made at that time, at that instance. Before that, no one knows what is going or what can happen. Anything is possible. . Every athlete has a hard time. A period when things get hard. An injury, family issues, money issues and really just anything. You can bounce back from anything. Never give up. Giving up is easy. Fighting and pushing through is hard but you will feel like a new person afterwards. Like you won. Like you beat something that was unbeatable. We are not magicians or fairies but we are human beings who can accomplish anything that we put our minds to. You can think this is a fantasy but it can be a reality if you believe in things like this. It happened to me. It is a reality. . Why not you? No excuses. No regrets" - FULL ARTICLE LINK IN BIO - #volleyball #usavolleyball #stacysykora

A post shared by USA Volleyball WNT (@usavwnt) on


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.


Thanks for visiting. Be sure to check out more of my volleyball passing articles by clicking one of the links below! (April Chapple)Thanks for visiting. Be sure to check out more of my volleyball passing articles by clicking one of the links below! (April Chapple)

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