Volleyball – Different Formations

Volleyball players move quickly across the court to get in different formations according to the game play. Let us try to understand this better by simulating a game scenario. We would start with an opposition player serving to your court.


To receive the serve you must make sure that your team covers maximum part of the court so that you are able to pick it and do not face the ignominy of being aced. The six players must set themselves in an appropriate formation. Proper footwear cannot be neglected in this case. That is why we recommend getting the best volleyball shoes (read reviews here) beforehand.

However, not everyone can be given the responsibility of lifting the serve. Too many people trying to lift the serve in the back of the court with not only create confusion but will also limit your ability in other gameplay situations. Hence a balance needs to be struck between number of receivers and the number of players performing other duties. In the modern game at the highest level, the number of receivers is generally 3. The libero, if he is present, almost always acts as a receiver and covers the central and right side of the court and the other two receivers cover the right side. At college and school levels, teams play with more receivers with the number being as high as 5 at times. A modern formation also allows for two receivers.

Once the service is successfully lifted, your team is ready to attack and everyone should move into an attacking formation and the coordination between setters and hitters takes center stage. Different team employ different setter-hitter combinations with the most popular combinations having either 1 or 2 setters. Teams playing with 2 setters do so in a 4-2 or 6-2 formation and those playing with 1 setter in the 5-1 formation. The latter two are the more difficult formations and requires higher skill levels. Two players in the 6-2 formation must be good at both setting and hitting. The 5-1 formation requires one very skilled setter who will set the ball irrespective of where it is in the court.

Once your spikers hit the ball, the focus of your team must immediately shifts to defending. The first defensing situation presents itself if the opposition blockers are able to get a block in. To dig a block, the team must shift to what is called the coverage system. It is pertinent to note that only 5 players can be a part of this system because the spiker who hits the ball cannot perform the dig, assuming he doesn’t have superhuman capabilities.

Lastly, if the opposition team is not able to block but is able the lift the spike made by your hitter, you should get ready to prepare for the defense against their strike. A combination of blockers and diggers is required to perform this task. Teams deploy a number of formation in defense but the key is to have a formation ready based on whether the outside or the middle hitter attack the ball. It is also important to read the body language of the hitter to anticipate the direction and power of the hit. The direction of the hit is guessed by the way the hitters shoulders shape up. Slowing of the swing means the defenders should be in the dig mode as the hitter is trying to drop.