What Are The Different Offenses In Volleyball? - The Dig Episode 006

volleyball offensive systems

In this episode of The Dig, we discuss the different offensive systems that are most commonly used in volleyball. The 6-2, 5-1 and 4-2 Volleyball offensive systems. Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages and we'll breakdown the pros and cons of each.

Sponsored by my book: volleyball rotations


Before we discuss each of the offenses, let me briefly go over rotation and the rules of overlap. The rules of overlap are complex and yet very direct when it comes to where you can and cannot be at the time of the serve. You must stay in a circle whenever the ball is dead. Once the ball has been served, you can basically go wherever you'd like. There are even more rules about where you can and cannot attack the ball during the rally, but we will skip those for today.

Back to the rotation stuff... if you can envision the court, and being in your circle, we will start there. (Think back to the first time you played in gym class, everyone rotates in a circle.) Now, we can modify the circle in certain ways, without breaking any rules, and that's where the different offenses start. We want to get our passers in position to pass, and our setters in position to set. We want to setup our players so they will gain the biggest advantage. Now, with that knowledge, we will move forward and talk a little about each system.

4-2 Offense

The 4-2 offense is one of the most basic setups you can use. It means that there are 4 hitters on the court, and 2 setters. This means you are using a front row setter, a middle hitter and an outside hitter, and three back row players. The biggest benefit of this is that the game can remain simple as you teach your setters how to set. You can still teach your setters to set back sets and have middles run slides to hit them. The 4-2 offense is the best bet to use with teams that are still learning their positions. 

6-2 Offense

A 6-2 offense is more complex than a 4-2. You can probably guess that a 6-2 means there are 6 hitters on the court, and 2 setters. How can this be when there are only 6 players on the court? In this offense, you are using a back row setter. So, if the setter is coming from the back row to set, you still have 3 hitters in the front row. You have an outside/strongside, a middle hitter, and an opposite/weakside/rightside hitter. (Everyone uses different terms for their hitters, depending on the area of the country you are in.) The 6-2 offense works the best when you have 2 setters of similar capabilities. Both setters need to be able to set functional back sets, even after running out of the back row to do so.

5-1 Offense

The 5-1 offense is designed to have 5 hitters and 1 setter in the game. This means that the 1 setter will set the entire game. She will set in the front row and the back row. This is a great system to use if you only have one setter. Another benefit to this is that your hitters can get into a rhythm more easily. They will get sets from the same setter all game, and hopefully that setter is setting consistent sets. If you use a 5-1 offense, you need a backup plan for when the setter digs the ball. This plan can be a right side player setting the ball, or the libero setting the ball. Really, you could use anyone you'd like to set the ball as a backup plan, you just need to make sure you have a backup!

So that's the brief rundown of the 6-2, 5-1 and 4-2 volleyball offensive systems I tend to like the 4-2 for beginner players and the 5-1 for more advanced players. Both are fairly simple. The 6-2 adds a bit of confusion from time to time over who is going to set the ball. For many years you saw primarily a 5-1 run at the college level, but today's game is opening up to more 6-2 offenses.

Want to learn more?  Read my book:

understanding and implementing volleyball rotations

If you would like to download a Free copy of the 4-2, 6-2 and 5-1 rotations, enter your email below. You'll be promoted to confirm your email, and once you've done that, you will receive your printable copies of each rotation. For Free. You're also going to be notified when my book, Understanding and Implementing Volleyball Rotations becomes available.

As always, leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section, and if you haven't already, subscribe to the podcast to receive new episodes twice a week.  Talk to you again soon!!


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1 comment

  • The church I attend is thinking of hosting a volleyball competition. They’re going to buy a net and put it in our church’s gym. I have only played volleyball a couple of times, so it’s good to know some of the offensive systems. I think we’ll start practicing the 4-2 offense since it’s the most basic system, as you mentioned. https://www.cobravolleyball.com/volleyball-nets/


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