Volleyball Position Terms For Setter, Hitter, Libero, Middle Blocker

These volleyball position terms describe the 5 player positions on a team and a description of each role for setter, outside hitter, libero and middle blocker.  

Volleyball Position: The volleyball defensive player known as the libero specializes in playing defense in any of the three zones in the back court. (Denis Wright)Volleyball Position: The volleyball defensive player known as the libero specializes in playing defense in any of the three zones in the back court. (Denis Wright)

Which volleyball position do you specialize in? There are five player positions on a volleyball team that players usually specialize in

Volleyball Position Terms - Setter 


Of the 5 volleyball positions setter is important because they run the offense like a quarterback on a football team only they deliver sets to their hitters. 

The setter on a volleyball team is a playmaker who like a point guard on a basketball team runs the offense and calls the offensive plays that their hitter needs to run. 



As the playmakers, setters are in charge of getting the second ball contacted in a rally to one of her hitters and she gets to choose which hitter gets the ball.  

The volleyball setter's goal is to exploit the weaknesses in the opposing team's block and defense. 

The setter's job is to outsmart the opposing team's block so that her hitters hit the ball with the least number of opposing blockers trying to block their spike attempts.



I think the setter volleyball position is one of the hardest positions to play because they have to remember what works and what doesn't.

They have to feed the ball to the hottest hitter making points on their team while making sure they keep from setting the ball to the hitter that has the best opposing block in front of them.


Volleyball Position Terms - Libero

The libero's volleyball jersey is always in contrasting colors to that of her teammates since she only plays in the back row. (Matt Pendleton)The libero's volleyball jersey is always in contrasting colors to that of her teammates since she only plays in the back row. (Matt Pendleton)

The volleyball defensive player known as the libero specializes in playing defense in any of the three zones in the back court.

I would compare the libero position to the pinch hitter in baseball, or a point guard in basketball.

The libero volleyball position calls for them 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.


Why Does A Libero Wear A Different Color Jersey?

The libero's volleyball jersey is always in contrasting colors to that of her teammates since she only plays in the back row. Rraiderstyle)The libero's volleyball jersey is always in contrasting colors to that of her teammates since she only plays in the back row. Rraiderstyle)

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.

The libero's volleyball jersey is always in contrasting colors to that 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. (Aversen)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. (Aversen)

The libero goes in and out of the game without being substituted in so to differentiate them from the other players they wear a contrasting color jersey. 


Is Libero A Good Position To Play in Volleyball?

The volleyball defensive player known as the libero specializes in playing defense in any of the three zones in the back court. (CE Andersen)The volleyball defensive player known as the libero specializes in playing defense in any of the three zones in the back court. (CE Andersen)

If you're one of  the shortest or the quickest players on your team, the libero position is one of the good volleyball positions on the court which could be a great option for you to aspire to play.

What does it take to make a good libero?

You can really make a huge difference on your team in this position especially if you have

  • great passing skills
  • play great defense
  • have a bulldog spirit in regards to keeping balls off the floor
  • possess great communication and leadership skills

Also being a starting libero guarantees you plenty of playing time during each game.


Volleyball Position Terms -
Middle Blocker


The middle blocker is the primary blocker stationed in the middle of the net where they attack the ball and block and play defense from Zone 3.

On each team there are two middle blocking/hitting players, one that plays in the front row while the other plays opposite them in the back row.

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 to



How Do You Become A Good Middle Blocker in Volleyball?


Following a pattern called "Ball-Setter-Ball-Hitter" the middle blocker's job is to track the ball from the passer to the setter for clues as to which one of the hitters the setter's going to set.

Once the middle figures it out, they track the ball that's been set, by moving laterally along the net with a set number of block steps to position themselves in front of the hitter and then time their block jump in a way to stop whatever attack hit is coming. 



The middle blocker is

  • flanked by her two outside blockers who are ready to help out with blocking responsibilities in the middle
  • ready to travel outside to just iside the antenna to prevent an attack hit by an opposing hitter 
  • ready to come off the net to play defense on the ten foot line where they're ready to pick up any tips or sharp cross court attacks 

Volleyball Position Terms -
Outside Hitter

Left sides are called the Left sides are called the "cannons" because even though they play their offensive position the furthest away from the setter, they are often the hardest hitters on the team.


Since the setter is often compared to the quarterback in football or point guard in basketball, then the outside hitter would be compared to the wide receiver in football or power forward in basketball.

I'm partial to this volleyball position, because it's been my favorite of the two positions on the court I've specialized in throughout my career as a high school, collegiate and professional player.

The 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. (Al Case)

Players who play in this position are also known by another volleyball term as "left side hitters".

In some slang terms left side hitters 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 often the hardest hitters on the team.

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 has a selection of ways to attack the ball which include

An outside hitter can kick the ball over if need be because kicking a ball is a legal contact. 


Outside hitters train in practice to hit all sorts of sets so that they can beat the block by hitting the ball...hard...primarily from the left side of the court known as Zone 4. (JMR Photography)Outside hitters in practice to hit all sorts of sets so that they can beat the block by hitting the ball...hard...primarily from the left side of the court known as Zone 4. (JMR Photography)

They train in practice to hit all sorts of sets so that they can beat the block by hitting the ball...hard...primarily from the left side of the court known as Zone 4 .

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.



Volleyball Position Terms - 
Opposite Hitter


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.

Many times the opposite hitter is just as tall as the middle blocker since her priority is to stop the strong opposing team's left side hitter.



Opposite hitters specialize in playing on the right side of the court. 

Opposites have the same responsibilities as left side hitters only they do it on the right side of the net in Zone 2 when they're blocking and hitting in the front row and usually in Zone 1 in the back row where they serve, attack from the back row and play defense. 

In recent years opposite hitters have become some of the tallest players on the team because on defense at the net as blockers they most often have to face the opposing team's best hitters. 


This has been an important message by your favorite volleyball coach! That's me!!

Thanks for visiting.

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

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Many of these volleyball practice drills you can do at home by yourself or try at your next practice with your teammates.

If you're a B team or JV player trying to make varsity next year...your goal should be to complete 1000 reps a day of at least three of the basic skills on your own...volleyball passing, serving and setting should be at the top of the list. 




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