Volleyball Player Positions and Their Roles Explained


Volleyball is perhaps the only team sport that has a very limited number of players on either side. The total number of players in the game is 12, with 6 players are either side of the team. It is pivotal to understand the player positions, formations, and rotations to learn exactly how the game proceeds. The six players rotate through the numbered positions in a specific pattern and in the clockwise direction, as their team gets a chance to serve.

The players generally stay in a specific position at the start of the game and rotate during the serve. The players need to be aware of their teammate’s position so that they do not hinder or overlap each other. The general rule is that the players move in an L-shaped pattern to get into their playing position.

Volleyball Player Positions and Their Roles

Volleyball Positions and Roles

There are generally six positions at the volleyball court and each of these positions serves a unique role, towards the success of the team. Though there are six positions, all of them depend on each other and work towards the success of the game. As volleyball is an extremely fast-paced game and requires serious athletic ability, players can determine their position depending on their skill set and abilities. Below are the six different positions in the volleyball game and the roles of players in these positions.


The setter plays at the offense position of the game and should have a delicate touch to set the ball perfectly for the attacking players. They also aim to receive a second touch, thus setting the ball perfectly for the attacking player. The setter should thus communicate effectively among the team and direct the players on the offense position in the court. They can also use a dump shot to get the opponents off balance. They should also be able to make quick decisions on the court and identify the blockers in the opponent team quickly. Players in this position can play either at the front or the back row and be ready at all times to block, dig, and receive a serve.

Outside hitters

The outside hitter is also termed as the left side hitter who attacks from the ball from the left end and should develop the ability to jump higher. As the outside hitters are the focal point of offense players, they should be able to adjust to the ball coming from any location. They are responsible for carrying the ball from both the front and the back rows and when they are on defense mode, they generally receive serves. The majority of the outside hitters possess excellent back row skills and work with the middle hitters to help block the shots of the opponent. Outside hitters can play both at the front and the back row and associate with the middle blocker to block the balls.

Check out: Best Volleyball Shoes For Hitters

Middle blocker

The middle blocker stands at the center of the court and is the tallest player on the entire team. They serve as the first line of defense against the hits of the opposing team. It is important that they read the minds of the attackers in the opposite team to quickly block the ball and score a point. Apart from being a defense only position, it is also an excellent location to score points throughout the game.  The players in this position also move on either side to help their team members clock blocks with the help of an outside hitter and opposite hitter.

Read: Volleyball Serving Tips

Opposite hitter

The opposite hitter is also termed as the right-side hitter and plays at the right antenna of the court. Players in this position should possess the required versatility to excel both on the defense and offense paradigms. They should also master and possess solid jumping skills and should be able to hit the ball both from the front and the back rows. They will also be required to set the ball if the setter fails to do it. These players act as a backup setter and line up against the outside hitter of the opponent side. The responsibilities of the players in this position include attacking the ball while receiving a set, block the outside hitter from the opponent and work with the middle hitter during blocks.


This is the position of defense and these players play in the back row and receive a serve or attack. Players with good defensive skills and passing skills are preferred for this position and can realize great success in terms of accumulating scores. Liberos also play a key role in the offense and they should convert the first touch into a solid pass for the setter. They should also be able to set the ball from the back row if the setter is not able to do it.

Players in this position can come in and out of the game and are not counted for the team’s substitution. Liberos can however not block, set an attack from the frontcourt, or attack the ball over the net.

Check: Best Volleyball Nets for Backyard

Defensive Specialist

A defensive specialist plays a different role, apart from the other volleyball positions. They can substitute any player in any position on the court. They focus on the ball control and passing and work in close liaison with the libero players.

Bottom Line

Beginner teams follow a 4-2 formation where there are 4 hitters and 2 setters. Whereas the most commonly used form is the 5-1 formation, followed by high-level teams. These teams have only one player to take up the setting responsibilities. In the 6-2 formation, the player comes forward from the back row to set. All six players behave e as hitters while two can act as setters. The team members keep rotating their positions. The players in the front row move into their assigned positions after completing their serve. Volleyball players should thoroughly understand their role in the volleyball court and also follow the specific rotation pattern so that they lead their team towards success.



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