The Libero in Volleyball: A Defensive Specialist

How to Play the Position of Libero in Indoor Volleyball

Volleyball libero position
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A libero is a defensive specialist position in indoor volleyball. The position was added to the game of indoor volleyball in 1999 along with a set of special rules for play in order to foster more digs and rallies and to make the game more exciting overall.

The libero remains in the game at all times and is the only player that is not limited by the regular rules of rotation. The libero usually replaces the middle blocker position when they rotate to the back row and never rotates to the front row.

The libero is chosen by the team before any given match or tournament and the player that is designated the libero must remain so for the entire match or tournament. If the libero is injured, he or she can be replaced by any player who is not presently on the court, but that player then must remain the libero for the remainder of the match.

What does the libero do during a play?

The libero is responsible for a great deal of the passing in serve receive situations. Often the libero will be responsible for a much greater part of the court than the other members of the team. The libero is in the game to add ball control, so the main responsibility is to pass the ball well so the team can run properly run the offense.

On defense, the libero needs to dig well, getting a hand on every ball he can in order to keep the play alive. Since the libero has no actual attack responsibilities, he or she must chase down every ball they can. He or she may also be responsible for setting if the ball is dug by the setter or out of the setter's range.

What Attributes are Important in a Libero?

There are several attributes that are important to the libero position. Those attributes include: 

  • Good passing ability 
  • Good digging ability 
  • Good ball handling skills
  • Quickness
  • Consistency

Characteristics of the Libero

Typical characteristics of the libero include: 

  • Plays only in the back row
  • Can replace any one position in the back row (for instance, the libero can play back row for both middle blockers)
  • Wears a different color jersey than the rest of the team
  • Does not count as a substitution

The Libero Cannot

There are several things that the libero is not allowed to do throughout the course of a game or tournament. They include: 

  • Serve (except in the NCAA women's game due to a rule modification in 2004)
  • Attack the ball above the height of the net
  • Block
  • Attempt to block
  • Set an attacker from the front court