How to Become an All-Around Player in Volleyball

An All-Around Player Can Be Very Valuable to a Team

Playing volleyball
Credit: Christopher Futcher

Volleyball players used to strive for the ability to do everything on the floor. However, as the game of volleyball has evolved, it has become increasingly more common for athletes to specialize. The benefit of specialization is that a player gets to learn a particular position inside and out, while not having to worry about other areas of the game. 

It has become the norm for players to concentrate only on the specific skills necessary to play their particular position.

While specializing in a certain area can be beneficial, it is also important to be well-rounded. If you want to increase your value to a team, work to become an all-around player. A player who can do it all has limitless possibilities for a coach. Yes, it is necessary to hone your skills at the position you play the most, but don’t neglect the other skills of the game of volleyball if you want to have a potentially larger impact.

Being an all-around player is important for several reasons. The world of team sports is not always predictable. On the court during a broken play, you may find yourself in the best position to set a ball across court, or to block middle, or to get that ball up. If you work on all the skills, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.

What happens if your starting outside hitter gets hurt and you need to fill in? What about if your regular passers are shanking the ball left and right and your coach wants to put forth a new look in serve receive that suddenly includes you? 

You could decide that you want to play sand doubles at some point as well. To excel at that, you must be good at all of the skills. But even if you remain indoors your entire career, you may be asked to play different positions from team-to-team or when you move to a different level. If you’re an all-around player, you take a breath, re-group and change your mindset to take care of the new tasks you’ve been handed. If you’re an all-around player, you’re prepared to do whatever is necessary to propel your team to victory.

How do you become an all-around player? Here are three things to concentrate on that will help you get there.


There are ample opportunities during any average practice to work on skills that don’t necessarily pertain to your position. That warm-up setting drill, that serve receive passing drill, that hitting and blocking drill – take them all seriously.

Practice is a place to take risks. If you get a chance to set a ball all the way across the court to an outside hitter on a bad pass, take it and make the most of it. If you get an opportunity to block, pass or hit from a different position, do it to the best of your ability.

Use the time you’re given to get comfortable hitting on the outside, blocking in the middle and playing defense all over the court. The more comfortable you get doing everything on the floor, the more seamless your transition will be in the heat of a match.

Focus on Skills You Struggle With

If you know that you struggle at a particular skill, take the time to get extra reps from a coach or a teammate when you have the chance either during practice or on your free time. Ask your coach or someone who excels at the skill what you can do to improve your form or your efficiency. Work to implement the changes and new skills you learn in practice each and every day.

When in drills, don’t back away from challenging yourself with skills at which you’re not as strong. No matter what the skill, no matter what your position, never stop working to improve. Don’t let coaches, teammates or parents talk you out of trying to get better at something. 

Volunteer often in order to put yourself in positions where you’re not necessarily comfortable, and you can’t help but to improve. Most of all, don't be afraid to make mistakes. That is the only way to get better.

Change Your Mindset

If you get placed in a position you don’t normally play, the other team will very well know it. They’ll try to key on you and force you into mistakes. They can smell weakness a mile away.

Change your mindset, accept the new challenge and project confidence even if you don’t yet feel comfortable. Don’t worry about how you’re going to do or why this has happened to you. Just focus on what you have to do right at the moment and keep it simple.

Know your limits and make sure you communicate with your surrounding teammates. Let them know what you’re prepared to do, for instance, how much of the court you’re comfortable taking in a passing formation.

Miscommunications are common in these situations so work to communicate even more than you think is necessary. Do your best to work yourself into the offensive and defensive schemes with confidence. 

An all-around, versatile player can be very valuable to a team.