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If you’ve ever wondered how many players are on a volleyball team you are not alone. The answer turns out to be more complicated than expected. The number of players depends on things like the number of substitutions and positions of players.
How Many Players Are on a Volleyball Team?
The number of volleyball players on a team changes based on the type of game being played and the number of substitutions allowed. For example, indoor volleyball games have up to 12 players on a team: 6 people on the court and up to 6 substitutions. Beach volleyball has 2 players on a team with zero substitutions.
Players on the Team and on the Court
Volleyball is enjoyed recreationally by more than 800 million worldwide and the first broadcast Olympic volleyball game had more than 1 billion views. With so many people, it’s no wonder there are a lot of different types of volleyball out there. Each game variation has a different required number of players allowed on a team, and a different amount of players allowed on the court.
The table below covers the six most popular types of volleyball and the number of players they allow. Indoor volleyball allows the greatest number of players on a team while beach volleyball has the least. You’ll notice that indoor volleyball can allow 6 or 7 players on a court at one time.
There is a special circumstance with the libero player in volleyball that we will cover more later.
|Number of Players on the Court||Number of Substitutions Allowed||Maximum Number of Players on the Team|
|4 Man Beach||4||2||6|
Although there are only 6 players allowed on a court, there are 7 possible positions an indoor volleyball player can have. From left to right the front row has outside and middle hitters, and a setter. Hitters spike the ball on the third hit and setters use the second hit to set up the hitters.
In the back row, there are two defense specialists for returning hits, and a serving specialist to serve. Opposite hitters can take the front row when the setter is in the back row. Finally, liberos are an optional seventh player on the court roster.
Standard beach volleyball has two players. There aren’t designated positions for players in this version of the sport. However, oftentimes the shortest player regularly acts as a setter during a volley.
Allowing substitutes change the number of people on the court compared to the overall number of players. Team members can give each a break and provide moral support from the bench.
The number of substitutes allowed changes the way a game of volleyball is played. For example, having zero substitutions and dealing with outdoor elements makes beach volleyball a game of endurance compared to indoor volleyball.
Now for the tricky part. In indoor volleyball, there is a special role that was first created in 1999 called libero. This person serves as the second defensive specialist, taking the place of middle hitters in the back row.
A libero can count as the seventh person on a team’s court because they do not need to use substitution to jump into the game for someone. While liberos may technically be the seventh player on a starting court roster, for the majority of the game there are still only 6 players on a court.
Liberos wear a different color than the rest of the team and have particular rules. They are not allowed to spike the ball past the service line. Unlike other players, the libero never rotates to the front row.
What Positions Can Block the Ball?
The front three positions in volleyball can block the ball:
- Outside hitter
- Middle blocker
- Setter or opposite hitter
Who Is the Seventh Player in Volleyball?
The libero is sometimes referred to as the seventh player on a volleyball court. The libero position can break the typical 6 people per team rule.
As you can see, the number of volleyball players on a team varies greatly based on the type of volleyball being played. Substitutions and positions like the libero can also add additional players to a team.