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Ever wonder who orchestrates a volleyball team’s rhythm or who acts as their defensive anchor?

Smash your way into understanding the key players and strategies behind the game!

  • The Setter is the tactical wizard, the team’s playmaker finely tuning the offense like a maestro.
  • The Outside Hitter (Left Side Hitter) is the team’s versatile powerhouse, soaring high to deliver striking kills and solid defense.
  • The Middle Blocker (Middle Hitter) is the impenetrable wall, stifling opponents with robust blocks and quick hits.
  • The Opposite Hitter (Right Side Hitter) is the strategic counterpuncher, excelling in both offense and defense from the vanguard.
  • The Defensive Specialist is the relentless guardian, a pillar of consistency safeguarding the team’s defensive prowess.
  • The Libero is the team’s defensive dynamo, masterfully controlling the backcourt with their lightning-quick digs and passes.
Volleyball positions with the numbers as they are known:
1–Setter 2–Outside Hitter 3,6–Middle Blocker 4–Opposite Hitter 5–Defensive Specialist 6–Libero

#1 Setter

  • 🏆 Renowned setters: Giovanni Guidetti, Bruno Rezende, Alisha Glass, and Nootsara Tomkom

The Setter is akin to a quarterback in volleyball, responsible for orchestrating the offensive play by setting up the ball for attackers. They touch the ball more than any other player and make quick decisions about which hitter to set to maximize offensive opportunities.

Defensively, setters have the job of covering tips or off-speed shots in the front row and, when in the back row, they contribute to the defense by digging or controlling the opponent’s attack to facilitate the transition to offense.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Excellent decision-making and strategic game understanding.
  • Precise ball-handling and setting techniques.
  • Quick footwork to reach any pass and make a set.
  • Defensive awareness to contribute to team coverage and digs.

#2 Outside Hitter (also known as Left Side Hitter)

  • 🏆 Renowned outside hitters: Karch Kiraly, Giba, Zhu Ting, and Logan Tom

Outside Hitters are versatile front-row attackers who can handle a variety of sets and are often the most consistent and effective offensive options. They tend to receive the majority of sets, particularly in out-of-system situations, and are required to attack from both the front and back rows.

Defensively, outside hitters are integral in receiving serves and are often a key part of the defensive lineup, tasked with blocking the opponent’s right-side hitters and covering a large area of the court in defense.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Strong attacking skills from the front and back row.
  • Consistency and ability to handle high-pressure situations.
  • Excellent passing and ball control for serve receive and defense.
  • Versatile blocking abilities.

#3 Middle Blocker (also known as Middle Hitter)

  • 🏆 Renowned middle blockers: Sergei Tetyukhin, Max Holt, Foluke Akinradewo, and Lucía Fresco

Middle Blockers lead the team’s blocking efforts, utilizing their height and jumping ability to form an effective barrier against opposing hitters. Offensively, they offer quick attack options, such as quick sets and slides, which are crucial for splitting the opponent’s block and creating opportunities for other hitters.

Defensively, they must read the setter and move quickly laterally along the net to close blocks with the outside and right-side hitters. They often also contribute to the team’s offense following an opponent’s serve by being ready to quickly attack on a second touch.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Strong leaping ability and timing for blocks and quick attacks.
  • Rapid lateral movement to close blocks.
  • Height and reach to challenge hitters at the net.
  • Quick reflexes for both blocking and attacking near the net.

#4 Opposite Hitter (also known as Right Side Hitter)

  • 🏆 Renowned opposite hitters: Andrea Giani, Wallace de Souza, Destinee Hooker, and Sheilla Castro

Opposite Hitters are often the primary attacking option when the team’s pass isn’t perfect. They must be adept at hitting from both the front and back rows and often deal with difficult sets. Opposites are also tasked with countering the opponent’s outside hitters defensively.

During serve receive, they are responsible for covering tips and off-speed shots as well as providing a back-row attacking presence. On defense, they participate in blocking against the opponent’s outside hitters and contribute to digging in the back row.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Powerful and versatile attacking ability.
  • Good blocking skills, often against the opponent’s best hitter.
  • Ability to manage difficult sets and still create offense.
  • Stamina and tenacity, as they are frequently involved in long rallies.

#5 Defensive Specialist

  • 🏆 Renowned defensive specialists: Camila Brait, Monica De Gennaro, and Briana Holman

Defensive Specialists are focused on ball control and back-row defense, similar to liberos, but unlike liberos, they can serve and are not restricted by the same substitution rules. They often substitute in for front-row players when they rotate to the back row to strengthen the team’s defense and serve-receive.

Their primary role is to ensure that the ball is kept in play and to create opportunities for the setter and attackers to run an effective offense.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • High-level passing and digging skills.
  • Service accuracy and the ability to pressure opponents with serves.
  • Quick lateral movement and coverage of the court.
  • Mental toughness and focus throughout long rallies.

#6 Libero

  • 🏆 Renowned liberos: Sergio Dutra Santos (Serginho), Fabi, Jenia Grebennikov, and Paolo Nicolai

The Libero is a defensive specialist who only plays in the back row and is not allowed to serve, attack the ball above net height, or rotate into the front row. They are often the best passer on the team, especially in serve-receive, and possess exceptional defensive skills.

Since they can substitute for any back-row player without prior notification to the officials, they are pivotal in stabilizing the team’s defense and passing consistency.

Key Characteristics or Skills:

  • Excellent ball control and passing precision.
  • Quick reflexes and agility for spectacular digs and saves.
  • Consistency and mental toughness.
  • Solid understanding of opponents’ attacking strategies to anticipate shots.

Hybrid Positions


A Libero-Setter switches between the defensive specialization of a Libero and the offensive playmaking of a Setter, with skills in digging, passing, and setting, providing strategic flexibility and coverage.

Opposite Hitter/Setter

An Opposite Hitter/Setter combines the attacking prowess of an Opposite with Setter responsibilities, contributing in both spiking and tactical ball distribution, key for disguising offensive plays.

Utility Player

A Utility Player can perform multiple roles (such as serving specialist or all-around substitute) depending on team needs, excelling in adaptability, strategic service, and providing depth to the squad’s roster.



What are the positions and roles in Volleyball?

The positions and roles in Volleyball are setter, outside hitter, middle blocker, opposite hitter, libero, and defensive specialist, each with unique responsibilities and specialty skills suitable for different aspects of the game.

How do I choose a position in Volleyball?

Considering your strengths, height, agility, and strategic understanding of the game is how you choose a position in Volleyball. Coaches also play a significant role in identifying the right position for a player.

What Volleyball positions are for beginners?

Outside hitter and libero are the best Volleyball positions for beginners because they provide a balanced introduction to both offensive and defensive aspects of the game, allowing new players to develop a wide range of skills.


Volleyball showcases a blend of specialized positions, from the strategic Setter to the powerful Middle Blocker, each vital for the team’s success.

The sport highlights complexity with roles like the agile Libero and strong Opposite Hitter, reflecting players’ diverse skills.

This combination of tactical precision, athletic skill, and teamwork transforms volleyball into a display of dynamic spikes and defenses.

The interaction of these roles emphasizes not just individual athleticism but the importance of unity, strategy, and collective achievement in creating an exciting, fast-paced game.

Understanding each position’s importance, you might be curious about the best volleyball coaches who develop strategies for these roles.

Kelly is a travel lover, and an adventure and sports enthusiast, and lover of all things wine. Kelly’s passion lies in exploring Canada and other parts of the world and sharing her experiences with others. As a senior traveller, Kelly aims to inspire others to live their best life and not be afraid to venture out into the world on their own. She encourages solo travel and offers tips and advice on how to do it safely and confidently. In sports, she was one of the MVP provincial champs in volleyball, have 4 years recreational experience in beach volleyball and was an MMA black belt and former instructor.

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