The Libero Episode
The libero is the easiest player to recognize on a volleyball team. They are the one in the different colored jersey.
The Libero As Defined In The Rulebook
Liberos wear an alternate jersey color to make them easily recognizable by the referee. The libero position is governed by it’s own set of rules, on top of the regular rules of volleyball. In this section, were are going to cover a few of the libero-only rules.
First, the libero jersey must be in clear contrast to the rest of the team. In high school rules, the libero must be wearing a solid color jersey, or the rest of the team must be in a solid color to help with the distinction. This means that you wouldn’t be able to have the team wear black, and the libero wear navy blue. They are too close in color.
The libero can replace anyone in the back row on a dead ball.
The libero must enter the game between the endline and the 10’ line, without touching either of these lines.
The libero may serve in one position in the serving order. (They cannot serve in the international game.)
The libero may not attack the ball (send it over the net) if they are touching the ball while it is entirely above the top of the net. Look at the following picture, this is illegal because the ball is entirely above the height of the net at contact.
Now take a look at the next picture, the ball is below the height of the net on contact, so it is legal.
So, when you hear that the libero can’t attack, that is not actually true. The libero can attack, but they must be aware of how high they jump. If your libero is short, or when she jumps she can’t get above the top of the net, then she is free to jump and hit.
***Technically, this rule applies to any back row player in front of the 10’ line also. Therefore if you know you can’t reach above the height of the net, even with your biggest jump, then you don’t have to worry about the 10’ line. Neat, right?
Now, make sure you understand the whole, above the height of the net, below the height of the net rule. If you need to look at the pictures again, take a look because the libero rules get one step deeper.
When a libero is in front of the 10’ line, they cannot use their hands to set the ball to a hitter who contacts the ball above the height of the net. They can use their hands to set if they are behind the 10’ line, but not touching it, or in front. If the libero does accidentally use their hands in front of the 10’ line, the hitter must stay below the net when they send the ball over.
A libero can use their forearms to set their teammates from anywhere on the floor.
Those are the the basic libero rules. Now we can get into actually playing the position of libero.
What Does A Libero Do?
The primary role of the libero position is to pass, play defense, and usually serve for one player on the team. They have to stay in the back row, so your libero is typically not the best hitter on the team, but they are a great passer.
Many coaches put the libero “in charge” of the serve receive and defense. How much authority they are given is based on the coaches philosophy and the level of the team. They may be responsible for making sure everyone is in the correct rotation, with no overlap issues, or they may get to make decisions on what type of defense is going to be played. Regardless of their authority, it is the role of the libero to keep the coach informed on what they are seeing in the game.
Most of the time, the libero is in middle back or left back because that is where most of the balls go. That way, the libero can be the one digging the ball more often than the rest of the team.
On many teams the libero is a backup setter. In this scenario, if the setter plays the first ball, they pass to the libero who becomes the setter. This leaves three hitters in the front row who can hit.
Technical Tips for Being a Better Passer
If you want to be a better passer, you need a lot of reps. I can give you a few tips, but the best thing you can do is to play a lot of volleyball. The best passers have a combination of good technique and the ability to read the play to determine what is going to happen, before it happens.
I wrote a an article on improving serve receive, and you can access it here:
A couple things I don’t include in that post, are how to handle topspin versus float serves. I will give you a couple tips for each.
Top Spin Serves - Top spin serves are going to travel in a mostly straight line, or at the very least, a predictable line. If you move early, you should be able to get your body behind the ball, and track the ball straight into your forearms. You’ll want to get closer to the ball than you think you need to be. The main rule of the topspin serve, is that it will drop. The ball looks like it is traveling further than it actually is. So get in the path of the ball, and get in close. Then hold your platform nice and still.
Float Serves - Float serves are very hard to predict. When done correctly, they will fly at the passer and move around through the air. At any time, they can change paths up, down, or side to side. If you’re going to pass a float serve, make sure you don’t completely commit to a spot with your feet. Make sure you are able to move up until the last second. Then make sure your platform is angled to the setter and hold it still. Allow the ball to bounce off, instead of you swinging at the ball, trying to hit it.
That’s it for now, if you want more tips, listen to the episode, or check out the upcoming episodes.
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