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volleyball positions

This sport involves many volleyball positions which are as a result of the many actions involved in the game. The actions involved in volleyball games on the volleyball court are such that they come at you very fast and utterly furious and teams have to be completely to hit, block, dig and serve their way towards claiming the set and getting closer to a win. For a success to be achieved, every single volleyball player on the team needs to be at the top of their individual game. Each player has to be excellent at his position.

In volleyball game, rosters are made for players and each player is given the position that matches his skill set so that he can be at his best performance. The volleyball positions are listed in the volleyball handbook but, for the sake of this article, we will look at the positions one after the other. And I will be as concise as possible. So, what names are given to each of the various volleyball positions there are? What are the roles in which they are created to perform? Let’s take a look at them one after the other;

There are six (6) major positions in volleyball game namely:

The Outside Hitter including the Right Side Hitter;

The Opposite Hitter

The Setter;

The Middle Blocker and/or Hitter

The Libero; and

The Defensive Specialist.

The Outside Hitter

The outside hitter is also referred to as the left side hitter or the wing spiker. What he does is to attack from the left antennae. The outside hitter is usually the player who, along with the libero, takes on the responsibility of serving and receiving. This position is given to a player with good jumping skills. This volleyball position numbers of the outside hitter is most often the center and focal point of the offense side. The outside hitter usually is the one who completes most of the attack hits on his team. Players to take this position must be such that they are able to adjust because sets will be coming from any and every direction; so they must be ready and at alert to receive the sets. They are also to receive the hits from the back and front rows, so their readiness and alertness cannot be overemphasized.

When team is on defense, the outside hitter is usually the one to receive the serve. Apart from being alert and ready, a player who is an outside hitter should possess good back row skills and also remain in the game for all the volleyball rotations that will take place in the course of the game play. Outside hitters also work hand in hand with the middle hitter in blocking the shots coming from opponents. Because they play through the front row and the back row, they are expected to be players with all around skills. As wing spikers, they must have the passing, attacking, blocking, serving skills and they must be able to play defense.

Together with the opposite hitters, the wing spikers or the outside hitters are usually the players who score the highest number of points in the game. This position is very vital to the team’s success and their responsibility is extremely important for the team.

volleyball positions explained

The Outer Hitter’s Roles and Responsibilities

The outer hitter is saddled with and required to perform the following responsibilities:

  • He must play both in the front and back rows;
  • He is the go-to hitter and so he is prepared;
  • He is one of the major passers among all the passers on the team;
  • He studies the opponent’s defense and is responsible for calling out hitters for an adequate response to the defenders;
  • He works hand in hand with the middle block to block opponents.

The Right Side Hitters

Right side hitters are also called the wing spikers on the right side. They have similar roles and responsibilities as the outside hitter in that they also help in playing front row and back row passes. They carry passes, attacks; they block, serve, and they serve as the defense of their team. These right side hitters’ main goal is to place themselves in the right front playing position. In international volleyball, the top level, the right side of the back court usually has a 3-meter attack from the middle back position. The right side hitters take up the responsibility to block the attack.

Their Responsibilities in summary

The right side hitters:

  • Are also called the wing spikers on the right side;
  • They play front row and back row passes;
  • They are very good at passing, attacking, blocking, serving, and defending their team from the opponents;
  • They position themselves at the right front playing position;
  • They block attacks from opponents.

The Opposite Hitter

The opposite hitters’ volleyball positions and roles is given to that player who, like the outside hitter, also scores most of the points in the game for his team. However, unlike the outside hitters, the opposite hitters are not responsible for passing. What they do is to stand behind the players passing during the rotation while the libero along with the outside hitters go ahead to play their part in passing the ball. Then they position themselves on the left front, the right front, and the right back volleyball player positions.

The opposite hitters are also important assets in any team in that, apart from scoring the most points, they get most of the sets in the game. Most of the time, counter attacks that are set after the defense team has made their game play are directed at the opposite hitters. So, they have the duty of hitting the ball against a solid block when it happens that the pass landed off the net.

Opposite hitters are required to have wonderful blocking skills because they will be playing against the opposite hitter of the opponent or the outside hitter of the opponent when they are in the front row. As a result, every player playing in this position has to work and practice a lot so he can be at the top of his game. They also need to have very good defensive skills because they play back row with the outside hitters and they have to hit balls that are about 10 feet from the right back position.

When it comes to professional and international official competitions in volleyball game, the volleyball opposites and the setters are usually paid higher than others because those positions are in very high demand. And, when teams do get players to play this position, they do everything possible to keep them especially if and when they are one of the best.

The Opposite Hitter’s Responsibilities in summary for libero volleyball positions

The opposite hitter plays these roles and responsibilities:

  • They are there to act as a backup setter when their team is on offense;
  • They are responsible for attacking the ball when they want to receive a set;
  • They serve in blocking outside hitter of the opposing team;
  • They work together with the middle hitter and, with their joined efforts, they block;
  • They are diggers; they dig for quick attacks before they happen.

The Setter

The setter’s position is an important role, although we can safely say that every position on the team is vital to the team’s success. The setter is seen as the playmaker, the point guard or the quarterback of any team in volleyball. His responsibility is simply (not as simple as it sounds though) to run the team’s offense and then go on in building offensive scoring opportunities for his team.

Like the outside hitter, the right side hitter, and the outside hitter, the setter also plays both front row and back row so therefore, he or she must be very good at blocking, serving, and also at playing defense. The setter, in addition to being good at playing defense, must be extremely great at blocking because the front row position he or she plays is against the opponent’s outside hitter is known to be the player with the very big load of responsibility in attacking for his team.

The setter’s play is usually at the right front or the right back position on the court. Setters aim to receive the second touch and set it for an attacking player in the team. As a result of this role, he must add strong communication skills to all the other skill sets he already possesses since he is responsible for directing the offense and also making last minute decisions on the court.

A good setter is one who is able to take a very deep study of his team’s opponents, identify their blockers and single out the weakest among them. Because they are able to play in both the front row and/or the back row, setters are always ready to block, dig, and receive a serve when the team is on defense.

The Setter’s Roles in a nutshell

The setter is usually laden with the following duties:

  • A setter is placed in his position to run the offense;
  • He is responsible for setting the ball for players in his team;
  • His team rely on him as the vocal leader; for this, he must have excellent communication skills;
  • He must be able to use a dump shot aimed at keeping the opposing team off balance;
  • He is responsible for digging and blocking when the team is on defense;
  • He identifies the blockers and singles out the weakest among them then he plays accordingly to his team’s advantage.

The Middle Blocker or Hitter

The middle blocker or hitter is mainly responsible for hindering and stopping the opponents’ defense. The player positioned as the middle blocker builds a block with which he is able stop the ball or to allow the team dig the ball up. The middle blocker is also responsible for stopping the opposing team’s middle hitters or their wing hitters. This they do with a joint effort and help with their teammates. By implication, a middle blocker is expected to have great blocking, serving, and attacking skills.

watch this wonderful volleyball position video

The middle blockers in the back row are used especially during competitions. When competitive volleyball game is being played, the middle blockers usually play on defense on only one rotation and this is done only after their own serve. If they lose the rally and as a result their turn to serve, a libero would come in and replace the middle blocker. These players don’t usually gain mastery of the defense because they don’t really play it – that is, it is not one of their major roles.

Although, in junior volleyball games, defense and passing are both recommended for middle blockers. Junior level coaches are advised to allow their players to practice the skills so that every player on the team has a fighting chance and it will ensure their overall skill development. Their athleticism is improved, and the players are also prepared to play other positions so that they won’t be lacking in any area as much as possible. It doesn’t matter if they are not tall enough, later in their careers, to play as a middle blocker. At least they have the experience and practice.

The tallest players in the teams are usually given the blocker’s position. This is because their extra height will help the said player to be an excellent fit for this role.

When the team is on defense, it is up to the middle blocker to block the center of the net and also to be ready for the opponent’s quick middle attacks. They are also required to move to either side of their playing side to help other players in their team to close blocks with the opposite hitter as well as the outside hitter.

On the other hand, when the team is on the offense, they usually play next to the setter and assist in executing fast attacks. The middle hitter is expected to be able to study the setter and understand whatever message he is passing and to adjust their approach so that they can get the most out of their attack. They also act as a decoy which is useful in confusing the opponents. They also spread out blockers on their team.

Their responsibilities in a nutshell

Middle blockers or middle hitters are responsible for:

  • Reading their opposing team’s hitters in order to set up appropriate blocks;
  • Blocking the shots their opponents will send their way;
  • Using very quick attacks when the team is on the offense;
  • Acting as decoy to throw their opponents off.

THE LIBERO

This volleyball position names is actually new to the game. It was just introduced not too long ago. The libero is regarded as a back row specialist who only plays at the back court. The libero’s shirt is usually of different color than the other players in the team. They are allowed to enter the game and also to exist without having to substitute them or making substitution requests. The libero can be told to take the place of any player on the court although most of the time, they replace the middle blockers.

Some leagues in the United States allow liberos in their teams to serve but, generally, the libero is now given the serving opportunity. Since they only play in the back court, the libero is only required to have an excellent skill of passing and defending in the team. They also have to possess extraordinary skills of receiving serves because, more often than not, they pass a larger area than the other serve receivers present in the team. Most of the time, the libero plays in the left back position.

Generally, the position’s major focus is on defense. They play a vital role when the team is playing the offense. As a result, they need to be able to turn the first touch of the pass into a solid one directed to the setter. Also, they may be needed to set the ball from the back row when and if it happens that the setter is not available for the work. Some things the libero cannot do include blocking, setting an attack from the front of the court, and attacking the ball that is sent above the height of the net.

Their Responsibilities in a nutshell

The libero is saddled with the responsibility of:

  • Replacing some players like the middle blocker in the back row;
  • Digging an opponent’s attack and, as such, must be ready and at alert;
  • Receiving the serve sent from the opposing team;
  • Setting the ball in the event the setter is not available to set the ball.

The Defensive Specialist

This spot is another sport that focuses majorly and only on playing defense. The defensive specialists are usually sent in during the game to replace a player who is discovered to not having the right skills for the back row. These players, unlike the libero, are required to make a substitution request with the referees. In every standard volleyball game, the rules allow for a limited number of substitutions. For this reason, defensive specialists are limited to certain situations. However, it all depends on the rules of the league in which they are playing.

One other major thing that differentiates the defensive specialists from the libero is that defensive specialists are perfectly capable of playing any position on the court. On the contrary, s libero will only sub out after he has rotated through the back row. The defensive specialist, however, can stay in and play the front row if he is needed to do so.

In most leagues in the United States of America, unlimited number of substitutions are allowed for the defensive specialist. So, most often, there are usually defensive specialists on any team. Also in the US, defensive specialists enter the game to replace players who are expected to play both front and back row and, for some reason, are unable to play. They perform a serve receive and also defense roles in the back row. They are given the green light to serve and, more often than not, they play the full back row rotation before the front row spot is given back to the offensive player in the offensive team.

volleyball positions

Their duty in a nutshell:

Defensive specialists are strategically positioned in any team and their major responsibilities are to:

  • Serve as a replacement for specific players positioned in the back row;
  • Always be ready to pursue an opponent or to dig;
  • Always be ready and prepared because they may be needed to play a position in the front row. The should be ready to take up the role when the player who was there initially is no longer there and another player is needed to fill up the positon;
  • Be ready to play as a back row hitter.

Becoming The Best Position Player on the Team

If you are just starting a volleyball career, you must be acquainted with the rules involved in playing volleyball and also be familiar with all the essential equipment and gear you need before the volleyball season begins. Get familiar with the six major positions involved in the volleyball sport. You must have been well trained and become sufficiently good for the position you intend to play in. When you know the position you are adequately fitted for, practice until you are perfect in that position. Get familiar with your role and what is expected of you on the volleyball court so that, when you do get the opportunity to join the team and play, you are ready to lead your team to victory.

To practice and become an excellent volleyball player, get acquainted and familiar with the drills involved in volleyball; there are about five drills performed for each of the positions. Practice the drills connected with your own volleyball positions which you want to take up. Also, it is important to note that you can be an expert at more than position. If you are, you will be much sought after.