Volleyball 101: Skill Positions on a Volleyball Team

Understanding the Different Skill Positions of a Volleyball Team

Volleyball team posing in front of court

As volleyball players become more serious about their game and join higher levels of competition, they will find that specializing in specific positions becomes a larger part of their game and training. Higher level volleyball teams begin incorporating specific skill sets, where each player has a specific role to play. In order to take your understanding of the game to the next level, City Beach will discuss each of these seven roles and the significance of each position.

Positions on a Volleyball Team

    • Outside Hitter – An outside hitter hits and blocks the left side of the court. They most often attack the balls which the setter sets to the left side, so they place themselves on the left front position. They often play both front and back row, so they need a solid all-around skill set.
    • Opposite Hitter – Opposite hitters play on the opposite side of the outside hitter, on the right side. Opposite hitters play a similar role to the outside hitter, with front and back row responsibilities. Players in this position should be proficient at passing, attacking, blocking, serving, and defense. Many volleyball teams like to have left-handed opposite hitters to create difficult angles for the defense.
    • Middle Blocker – Middle blockers are a volleyball team’s best blockers. They hit mostly fast-tempo sets from the middle of the court. The primary job of the middle blocker is to stop the opponent’s middle, outside, and right side hitters. Typically, the libero will substitute in for the middle blocker when they rotate to the back row. The ability to block and provide difficult passes are key to success for a middle blocker.


  • Libero – The libero is a specialist who is only allowed to play in the backcourt. You can find the libero on any volleyball team because they will be wearing a different colored jersey from their teammates. The libero has the special ability to enter and exit the game without substitution requests. Liberos can play six rotations total but are only allowed to serve for one player. Successful liberos need to have the best passing and defensive skills on the team, as that is their main responsibility on the court.  


  • Setter – A setter’s primary responsibility is to take the second ball and set it up for one of the primary hitters to attack. The setter plays a huge role on the team and is often referred to as the “quarterback.” A setter typically plays all the way around, however, in some lineups (6-2), there may be two appointed setters. The ability to block, serve, play defense, and, most importantly, provide great sets are key to a setter’s success.
  • Defensive & Serving Specialist – Some volleyball teams use defensive and serving specialists as well. A defensive specialist plays back row defense similar to a libero. Unlike the libero, they do not wear a different jersey and must abide by the regular substitution rules. A serving specialist is a player who subs in just to serve. These players generally have a very tough or consistent serve and will replace defensive or attacking players who have a less challenging serve.

Visit City Beach to Bring Your Game to the Next Level

At City Beach, we have coaches and trainers who are experts at helping young men and women improve their volleyball game. If you are interested in improving your game, contact City Beach today at 408-654-9330.

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