Volleyball Roles – A Complete Guide

Are you looking for a guide that lets you understand all of the positions in a volleyball team? Then this article is an excellent source for you.

Volleyball is a sport that is accumulated with strategy, skills and social interaction. So, to step your game up in this sport, you need to know the roles associated with each position.

The success of your team lies in the unique purpose each position serves. Without further ado, let’s get into the discussion of basic rules of volleyball positions.


The setter is an important role that helps set up a scoring point for the team.

This is how the setter role works – setter’s responsibility is to hit the ball as a second contact and strike the ball in such a way that the teammate can proceed to smash or further attack.

It is an essential offensive aspect of the team as the setter makes the choice as to when and who should get the ball. A hitter, no matter how skillful, can never be complete without a good setter – who will deliver a good ball to be hit.

If you have an offensive approach and want to increase the team’s chances of winning the match, you will always be in dire need of a good hitter.

During the Play

Following are the things that a good setter makes sure of;

  1. There is no overlapping during the service, meaning that all of the teammates are appropriately lined up
  2. Should always know the approach towards the game by continually communicating with the hitters in the team. Where to deliver the ball for an attack and when to set up the ball
  3. Setter’s eyes should always be on the ball when the attack from the opposition is approaching, so optimal position can be taken to make a good pass

Middle Blocker

As the name suggests, the player in the centre of the court at the net is the Middle Blocker.

This player is always between the two outside blockers during the defence. Middle Blocker has the primary responsibility of blocking the opposition’s hitter, regardless of their position at the court.

While, during the offensive mode, the middle blocker will act as a decoy to confuse the opposition or might hit the ball in quick sets to occupy the mind of the opponent team’s blocker.

During the Play

The role of Middle Blocker is given to the tallest player in the team – who has a defensive instinct. Some of the characteristics that make an excellent middle blocker are;

  1. The player should be swift and should be able to move flexibly in the face of the net
  2. The middle blocker should possess the skill of hitting quick tempo sets
  3. Always has strength, speed, blocking, and game reading skills

Outside Hitter Position

Let’s talk about one of the most critical roles in volleyball – an outside hitter or in other words left side hitter.

A player that takes the position of front left side, blocks and hits the ball from that position of the court – is an Outside Hitter position.

When a team is playing with an offensive mindset, an outside hitter is the main go-hitter of the team and calls the primary passes of the match. Mostly, the player in this position hits the ball that approaches from outside of the court.

During the Play

For an Outside Hitter, here are the main characteristics that one should hold;

  1. The player should be hitting at least four pipes in the game and should be passing free balls to the setter
  2. To have a broader approach to the game, a good player in this role will always play from the left side in the front – blocking the back rows
  3. The player should be skilful enough to pass both overhead and arm balls along with having a significant control on the ball
  4. It may be debatable but, an outside hitter should possess good defensive skills


Have you ever seen a player wearing an opposite-coloured jersey playing in defence from the back row? Yes, that exact position is called Libero.

This player masters the skill of passing the ball delivered by a pass, setting, free ball passing or digging. The role of Libero is that of a defensive specialist.

Fun Fact: This position was added to the game in 1999, focusing on improvising the digging skills and making the game more exciting to watch.

No rotational play is associated with the role as the Libero plays the entire match and takes the role of the middle blocker at the back. But, once this rotation has been made, Libero cannot rotate back to the front row.

Apart from the injury, the Libero is not replaced throughout the match or the tournament for that matter. So, in the moments when Libero is injured – the player who takes on this role shall play the entire tournament in the same role and cannot be replaced.

Did you know that libero and setter positions are great for short players? To discover more facts about how height matters in volleyball, click here and refer to this article.

During the Play

If responsibilities of a Libero could be listed down, they would look something like this;

  1. Libero serves receive passing as well as helps in free ball placement
  2. During the receiving of the first contact by the setter, libero supports in handling the ball
  3. Most defensive player in the team is given the role of Libero owing to its criticality
  4. Reflexes of this player are speedy while being the shortest player

Opposite Hitter

As it says in the name – opposite hitter is placed opposite to the setter in the team.

The opposite hitter plays from the right side in the front and back rows. At times when the setter is not available, it is the job of opposite hitter to perform its duties owing to the former’s location in the court.

During the Play

The role of opposite hitter is crucial as well as complicated and during the play;

  1. The block should be fixed on the outside hitter such that the middle can close to the opposite hitter
  2. In case it is not possible for the setter to get to the dig, in that situation a good opposite hitter is always prepared to take on the responsibility
  3. Sometimes the opposite hitter doesn’t get the set – instead, the next move should be to cover the hitter

Angled shots are vital for the player performing in the role of opposite hitters. Because most of the time off-speed roll shots to the campfire are originated from the opposite hitters.

Defensive Specialist

Back rowed free ball passers who are specialist in digging and ball control are the players who perform in the role of Defensive Specialists.

They handle the ball when the setter receives the first contact, and they are responsible for placing the free ball.

During the Play

The Defensive specialist is always on edge but;

  1. Should always set the deft and sprawl the defenses
  2. Is capable enough to judge the speed of the ball

Mostly, the defensive specialists are the players who are second best defensive players and take a position behind the Libero.

A semi master at digging, passing, serving and setting up the ball. But, if an outside hitter is capable enough to perform the same functions as a defensive specialist, then the latter is not given a spot in the team.

To be fair, it always comes down to the strategy of the team for the game – which usually varies for every situation.

Volleyball positions determine your role on the court; that is why it is essential for the players to know the job they have to execute and how. In fact, in the sports world – the better you know your position and your role in the team, the higher the chance of you performing at an optimal level go.

Learn all about Volleyball positions on the court through our detailed guide.