1. Outside Hitter
The player that plays on the left side of the court in the front and back-row is called the “outside hitter” or “left-side hitter.” This player’s main job is to attack and pass. Typically this player is best at terminating the ball and will receive 60% or more of the sets in a match. They should be trained in hitting in less-than-perfect situations as bad passes should be set to this player to attack. If this player will play back-row as well, they will also need to be a strong serve receive passer, server, and defender.
2. Middle Blocker
The player that plays in the middle of the court in the front-row is called the “middle blocker.” This player’s main job is to attack and block. Typically this player hits well in medium to perfect situations and can move well along the net, as well as get their hands over onto the opponent’s side of the net while they are blocking. This player is often replaced by the libero in the back-row but this decision should be based on the abilities of the players on the team.
3. Opposite/Right Side
The player that plays on the right side of the court in the front-row and back-row and is not setting is called the “opposite.” This player’s main job is to attack and block and is less involved in play at lower levels because of the difficulty of back setting to them. This player will be blocking on 60% or more of the plays since the opposing outside hitters will receive the majority of sets.
The player in charge of the second ball is called the “setter.” They don’t necessarily play every second ball but they are in charge of determining who will play the second ball. This player’s main job is to set a “hit-able” ball for their teammates and allow the hitters to do the work to score. They most often play on the right side of the court either in the front-row, back-row, or both (again, this decision should be based on the abilities of the players on the team).
The player who wears a different color jersey and only plays in the back-row (typically middle-back) is called the “libero.” This player’s main job is to serve receive pass, play defense and step in as the backup setter. They are allowed to play for any/all of the six players on the court in the back-row. Depending on the league, one or two liberos may be designated at the beginning of the match and used in any game. If two liberos may play, then they may replace each other at any time but cannot play together at the same time.
6. Defensive Specialist (DS)
The player that subs in for another player just to play back-row is called a “defensive specialist.” This player’s main job is to play defense and pass on serve receive. They can be subbed in at any time but typically are subbed in before their teammate serves to serve in their place or after their teammate serves to start on serve receive (base this decision on the abilities of the players).
7. Serving Specialist
The player subbed in only to serve for their teammate is called a “serving specialist.” Once the opposing team sides out, this player is subbed out (base this decision on the abilities of the players).