What are the 6 Volleyball Positions? (Comprehensive Guide)

volleyball positions

Volleyball is one of the most thrilling sports you’ll even know! Each player contributes to the game through very specific roles & responsibilities …

One of the key points to be successful at this game is to fully understand the 6 fundamental positions roles in volleyball.

In this comprehensive article, I share each of those 6 positions by clearly diving into their unique roles, required skills as well as their tactical importance!

Key Takeaways

  • Each role has a unique set of required skills. For example, a setter needs to be great at setting the ball to the best positioned outside hitter. The latter, initiates quick & effective attacks.
  • Position-specific training is extremely important in modern volleyball. This doesn’t only improve the individual abilities, but also the overall team’s performance.
  • Communication is vital across all volley positions. Setter needs to properly coordinate with offensive players. Libero needs to coordinate with defensive players. And offensive players need to coordinate with defensive players.

1. Setter

volleyball setting

Setter is the primary playmaker. He is responsible for setting up the ball to the offensive players (mainly the outside hitter). He usually receives the second touch.

Bellow are the main qualities every setter should have:

  • Ball control: Very important to deliver accurate and well-timed sets to the team’s hitters.
  • Decision-making: Setter should be able to make quick decisions by quickly assessing the situation in the court. He should always keep the opposite team guessing.
  • Communication: A good setter should maintain a good communication flow with his teammates to properly initiate effective attacks.
  • Serve reception: This depends on the team’s strategy, but in many cases, the Setter could help with serve reception especially when the ball falls into his zone.
  • Defensive tasks: Setter could help defensively by covering the middle back area of the court.

Important Tip: The Setter is a player that moves a lot in the court and should be able to quickly change directions to stay in the right position. To properly do so, he/she needs to use volleyball shoes with a very good grip & cushioning to promote that. For example, these Quality Volleyball Shoes have a reliable grip and a comfortable cushioning.

2. Outside hitter

Some people also know it as the left-side hitter. This position is very important offensively. Typically, the outside hitter initiates attacks from the left side of the court by hitting high sets from the team’s setter.

Bellow his main tasks and roles:

  • Attacking: Outside main role is to score points by hitting the ball past the opposing team’s block.
  • Versality: The position requires a lot of versality. They need to adjust to different types of sets to initiate perfect attacks.
  • Serve reception: Outside hitters should (depending on the team’s strategy) receive serves by passing the ball to the setter to initiate the offensive sequence.
  • Defense: Outside hitter should be positioned in the back row to fulfill his defensive roles. This will allow him to properly dig for the ball by covering the left-back of the court.
  • Blocking: Outside hitters are often tall, and this makes them very good at blocking by preventing the opponent’s team attacks from entering their part of the court.

3. Middle blocker

how to block in volleyball if youre short

Teams with good a middle blocker are generally those that are the most successful. Indeed, his role is to block the opponent team’s attacks at the net.

Bellow are some of his key roles:

  • Blocking: As I’ve just mentioned, the blocker’s main role is to prevent the ball from reaching his team’s part of the court, by blocking it at the net zone.
  • Reading the game: Middle blocker should keep reading the opposite team’s setter’s intentions to anticipate the possible direction to the next attack.
  • Quick Attacks: Middle blocker also contributes to the team’s offensive sequences by executing quick attacks in the middle area of the court. To do so, he needs to have an excellent timing with a good coordination with the setter.
  • Transitioning: Middle blocker should have speed and agility to transition from offense to defense and vice versa.
  • Serving: Like all players, middle blockers should serve when it’s his turn in the rotation. Ideally, he should aim to disrupt the opposite team’s offense.

4. Opposite hitter

Some people know this position by the right-side hitter. He plays an important offensive and defensive role. Usually, initiate attacks from the right side of the court …

Below are the main roles that you should be aware of:

  • Attacking: This is his main responsibility. But he generally target’s the opposing team’s outside hitters to exploit their defensive gaps.
  • Blocking: He also participate in blocking when they are in the front row.
  • Back-row attacks: When the outside hitter takes the back row position, he should be able to execute/initiate attacks from there. This often requires good timing & jumping abilities.
  • Serve reception: This is not his main role, yet he might contribute to serve reception when necessary.
  • Defense: Opposite hitters should cover well the right-back area of the court to properly dig and defend against attacks.

5. Libero

hardest volleyball positions

Libero’s main tasks are defensive. He mainly focuses of serve reception and defense. He typically wears a contrasting jersey that distinguish him from his teammates

Below are the main roles the Libero:

  • Serve reception: Libero should be able to properly receive opponent’s serves by passing the ball to the setter that would start an offensive sequence.
  • Digging: Libero should be great at Digging! This allows him to save his team from losing points even those that are very hard to save …
  • Court coverage: Libero should cover large court areas. Mainly the back row to make sure no balls hit the ground.
  • Substitutions: Libero can at any moment replace any back-row player. This doesn’t count in the team’s substitution limit. This is a great option for coaches to make strategic adjustments during games.
  • Communication: All team’s communication flow should go through the libero. In other words, Libero should keep communicating with all players, and all players should keep communicating with him.

6. Defensive specialist

A Defensive specialist contribute to the team’s defensive tasks. Indeed, he helps in things like …

  • Serve reception: If the libero’s not able to receive the ball, he does that by passing it to the setter.
  • Digging: Again, when the libero’s not able to dig for the ball, he does so to save his team from conceding unnecessary point.
  • Court coverage: Defensive specialist always try to cover areas of the court that their teammates aren’t able to cover. This helps the other players of focus on their respective tasks.
  • Substations: Although the substitutions are generally counted as the team’s substitution limit, coaches like to substitute them to make game changing moves to surprise the opposite team.

Importance of position-specific training            

Although volleyball is a sport where positions keep rotating, it is still very very important to maintain a position-specific training …

Indeed, each position requires a unique set of skills!

Below are the most important benefits of this approach:

  • Develop expertise: By focusing on the position required skills, players can develop actual expertise and become much more effective in their roles.
  • Improve teamwork: When players are properly able to understand responsibilities & expectations of each position, they will be able to work better together as a cohesive unit.
  • Optimize physical attributes: Players will be able to optimize their physical attributes for their specific role. (By the way, you can learn these tips to get in shape for volleyball)
  • Minimize risks of injury: Players will become very used to the required patterns for their roles. This will help them develop a much safer playing style.
  • Boost confidence: By mastering the required skills for a specific position, confidence will systematically go through the roof. Thus, becoming much more assertive & effective in the court!

What is the 7th position in volleyball?

In volleyball, the concept of a “7th position” generally refers to a utility or backup player for any of the primary positions that I’ve just mentioned above …

These players should possess a well-rounded skill set. They should be able to step in when needed, providing depth and versatility to the team.

A utility player is a highly valuable asset to any volleyball team. They can adapt to various roles depending on the team’s needs during a given game.

Their coach might call them up to take the position of an injured player or to cover for a teammate who is struggling to perform well.

Utility players must be strong and should have a deep understanding of each position!

Well, although this is not an official position, the “7th position” or utility player is often considered as a coach secret weapon to make strategic moves to surprise the opposite team.

Final Thoughts …

Hopefully, you are now more aware of the 6 volleyball positions and the importance of having a deep understanding of their respective roles …

This article is very important for beginners and amateurs, as this will help them choose their volleyball position!

Carissa Harmer

Carissa Harmer has over 6 years of volleyball experience between playing the sport at a semi-professional level, following the biggest volleyball teams & leagues out there as well as helping beginners to get started on the right path.

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