What Are the Positions in Volleyball?

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With six players on the court, it can be confusing to know what position every volleyball player occupies. If you’ve ever been watching a game and suddenly wondered, “What are the positions in volleyball?,” you’re not alone. We compiled a description of every player’s position on the volleyball court.  

What Are the Positions in Volleyball? 

The six volleyball positions are outside hitter, opposite hitter, setter, middle blocker, libero, and defensive specialist.

Learn what are the positions in volleyball

There are many skills needed on a volleyball team because each position functions differently during a rally. Each player must master their position in order to best serve the team. We’ll cover each volleyball position’s in-depth role below. 

Volleyball Positions 

We’ll be discussing indoor volleyball in this article. Beach volleyball, a popular variation of the game, only has 2 players on a team. As a result there aren’t really positions in beach volleyball because the players must fulfill all of the functions at some point. 

Outside Hitter

The outside hitter spikes and blocks from the left side of the net. They are typically the strongest hitter, and therefore get the majority of sets. The outside hitter also tends to rotate to the back row and plays defensively. 

This versatile player must master several skills including spiking, blocking, receiving, and serving. Unlike many other positions listed, this player most likely won’t ever be substituted out.

Opposite Hitter

The opposite hitter plays opposite to the stronger outside hitter on the front right side. It is particularly advantageous for left handed players to become opposite hitters because they can have more room and power on the right side. 

After serving, the opposite hitter is substituted out in the back row in favor of the defensive specialist or libero. Sometimes, the setter will act as the opposite hitter. This is advantageous because it can throw off expectations from the opposing team.

Middle Blocker 

The middle blocker stands in the middle of the court and jumps straight up to block hits from the opposing team. This player will also spike the ball occasionally from the center of the net. Typically, this player is substituted by a libero or defensive specialist when they rotate to the back row.

An image of one of the positions in volleyball

The middle blocker plays a crucial role in winning points and ending rallies. In the NCAA, there is an average of 2.7 successful blocks per set where the point is immediately won. Even when the point isn’t directly won by a block, this move gives one team a small break from playing while forcing the other team to scramble for a sudden additional three hits. 

Setter 

Setting is perhaps the most important position on the volleyball court. A setter is supposed to always hit the ball secondl. They are in the front row and their purpose is to set the ball up for a hitter to spike. 

As previously mentioned, sometimes setters can act as outside hitter. Also, they are rarely substituted out, and instead play in the back row as well as front. The best FIVB setter is Italian player Boninfante Mattia who had 624 sets last season.

Libero 

The libero is a special position first created in 1998 to make games more exciting. They remain in the back row to receive a ball. Liberos have their own particular rules they must obey, which are listed below. 

  • Must wear a different colored jersey
  • Cannot play in the front row
  • Libero substitutes do not count towards a teams total substitutions 
  • Cannot spike the ball past the service line
  • Only one libero per match

Defensive Specialist 

A defensive specialist is somewhat similar to a libero. However this player doesn’t have a different colored jersey and they do not have to follow the special rules of a libero. Typically a team will use one of its six available substitutions to add a defensive specialist in the back row.

When a team doesn’t have a libero, they will instead have two defensive specialists in the back row. This completes the six open positions on the team.

An image of a blocker

Related Questions

What Are the Alternative Volleyball Position Names? 

There are several different names for every position. The most common alternative terms for each position include: 

  • Outside hitter: OH, outside, pin, left side
  • Opposite hitter: OPP, right pin, right side
  • middle blocker: MB, middle hitter, middle
  • Setter: S 
  • Libero: L
  • defensive specialist: DS, defensive receiver, receiver 

What is the Best Position in Volleyball?

Setting is considered the hardest and most important position in volleyball. If you are tall, the middle blocker is the best position, and versatile players are usually outside blockers. Players that are good at receiving make the best liberos.

What is The 7th Volleyball Position? 

The libero is sometimes referred to as the 7th position. This is because in a starting lineup where only six players are allowed, the libero is also counted making the lineup seven people long. The libero doesn’t need to substitute the same as other players, allowing them to become the seventh person on a court.  

Conclusion 

There are a total of six different positions in indoor volleyball. Each position needs a unique set of skills, and provides different strengths to the volleyball team.

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.