What Is a DS in Volleyball?

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A good attack is a good save in Volleyball. It means if the players on the offensive line perform their part well, their defensive will automatically boost up. This all summarizes up for a DS. But do I understand what a DS is in Volleyball? If you are new to Volleyball, you should check this guide that explains a DS from scratch.

What Is A DS In Volleyball?

The defensive line is the last line of defense in a team. Consequently, the players who defend their team through this line are defensive specialists or DS in Volleyball.

Know what is a DS is in volleyball

As the name suggests, a defensive specialist puts his blood and sweat all together to prevent the ball from the floor.

While, practically, the defensive line may seem like the last line of action for a team, but it lays a new beginning for a fresh attack. And that’s how the back row players (the defensive line) and the front row player (the attacking line) work together to score a point.

When the block of the front line fails, it’s the dig of the defensive specialists that save the match.

#1 How Defensive Specialist Is Different From a Passer?

In general, the individual defense looks similar to passing. The only factor differentiating a defensive specialist’s defense from a passer is their quick and rough digging.

The dig of a defensive specialist is more firm, quick, and strong than a passer. As soon as the block fails, the defender must take his position before it gets too late.

Moreover, a defensive specialist should be a reasonable observer and quick at calculating the ball’s motion. He should read the attackers on his team and the attackers of the opponent’s team. This is because the response to action rate in Volleyball is minimal.

Research has demonstrated that expert players show a quicker response to action rate than their novice counterparts. Thus, it leaves only a few blink eyes for a defensive specialist to prepare himself and take a call to action.

Player trying to retrieve the volleyball ball

On the other hand, a passer is more centered on acting as a mediator than a savior. They either mediate the ball to the front-line attackers or dig it to the defensive line to save the ball and score a point.

A passer can dig or pepper the ball unlike, a defensive specialist who digs, rolls thunder, and pancake for defensive.

#2 Defensive Specialist vs Libero

The role of a libero and a defensive specialist is quite similar and thus might be confusing for you to understand. How are they different? Few factors differ a defensive specialist from a libero like,

  • A libero doesn’t wear the same jersey as his teammate. Meanwhile, a defensive specialist dresses the same as their teammates.
  • A libero can move in and out of the court anytime when the game is on. But, a defensive specialist cannot move freely off the court.
  • A defensive specialist is an official substitute player, while a libero isn’t. It means a libero can only substitute for a back-row player once he moves out the court, while a defensive specialist can substitute a front-row player as well as a back-row player.
  • A libero player cannot block or jump attack a ball. But, on the other hand, a defensive specialist can jump attack the ball.
  • A defensive specialist can be a game captain or team captain for a team in national and international matches.  Meanwhile, a libero cannot be a game captain in most international tournaments.
  • A libero cannot serve the ball, while there is no such prohibition for a defensive specialist.
  • A defensive specialist has to rotate through all three positions in the back row to be replaced by a front-row player. Because of this, it gets trickier for the coach to make use of DS. On the other hand, a libero can be shuttled in or out easily. He gets more playing time in comparison to a DS usually.

#3 Tips To Become A Pro Defensive Specialist

A defender or defensive specialist employs various Volleyball techniques to save the match for his team. But apart from techniques, there are few things that a defensive specialist should keep in mind like,

Man who has the DS position in his team awaiting to be on the defensive
  • The player should not move away from the ball because your nearby teammate is closer to receiving it. This strategy never works because it happens that the teammate himself dodges the ball because of the same reason as yours. Thus, a DS should backup his teammate so that the fall doesn’t turn out as a loss.
  • Be mindful of your position. Get back to your place immediately after displacing from there.
  • Don’t stand on your heels while you are in position. Instead, stand on your toes so that you can move quickly.
  • Stay close to the ground. Avoid keeping your legs straight and relaxed, as digging and diving will take more time than before.
  • Focus on the opponent team’s blocker rather than a hitter. Be conscious of their move.
  • Not every ball will be in your name. Thus, it’s important to rely on your teammates and work as a team rather than as a playing individual.

Here is a video tutorial that can help you become a pro-defensive specialist by following very easy-to-do drills.


A defensive specialist has a lot of responsibilities on his shoulder. He is not only a defender but a server, a great passer, and an attacker when playing in the front row. 

Even if their role is similar to a libero, they have a lot on their plate, which is not the case for a libero. Thus, it won’t be wrong to call a defensive specialist an all-rounder player on the team.

The journey to be an all-rounder is undoubtedly not a cup of tea. An intensive course of training and drills is employed that polishes a DS to become the best player for his team. 

So you know now that when a defensive specialist steps in the court, he never lets the ball die and backs for his team for whatever it takes.

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.