Know Your Role on Your Volleyball Team

Volleyball players blocking
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Each of the six players on the volleyball court has a distinct and important role to play. Not only are you responsible for doing what’s necessary for your position as an outside hitter, a setter or a libero, but you are also responsible for knowing exactly what your team needs from you at any given moment.

Players are not interchangeable. Your individual skills and your strong suits are distinct from the other players on your team. Your strengths and weaknesses are not exactly the same as that of your teammates.

When a player is subbed out of the game the chemistry on the floor changes and the role you play may change as well. When you play the game, make sure you know what your role is on the team; pay attention to your team's changing needs and know how best to utilize your skills to help your team win.

Know Your Team's Needs

The first thing you need to know is what your team needs from you. When your coach puts you in the game is he or she expecting great hitting, a good stuff block, an ace serve or consistent passing?

Every player has strengths and weaknesses. You should strive to be the best you can at every skill, but there will always be certain skills that you excel at more than others. Know yourself and be realistic about your skills as compared to the other players around you.

Take stock of the other five players on the court. How do you complement each other? How can you use your skills in tandem to make your team as strong as possible? If your best hitter is in the middle and you are the most consistent passer, take more passing responsibility so that your great hitter can concentrate on his or her attack and your perfect pass allows the setter to get the ball to that hitter more often to score more points.

If you’re the best passer on the team, but you line up next to the worst passer on the team, your coach may need you to concentrate on passing more than hitting. You may need to cover more area in serve receive so that your team can run the offense.

If you’re a great blocker but not a great hitter, you may be expected to stop or slow down the balls to make it easier for the defense to play the ball to the setter, but you may not see too many sets. That is perfectly alright because you are still playing your role and helping your team.

If you’re not sure what your strengths and weaknesses are or what your team needs from you, talk to your coach. He or she will know exactly what your best skills are and they will be able to tell you what they need from you when you’re in the game. Work on the weak skills, but play to your strengths when you're in the game.

Be Prepared to Play Different Roles

If you play on several different teams, your role will likely change for each. You may be the best passer on one team and the best setter on another. On one team you may be the entire offense while on another you are the last option. Mentally prepare yourself for your role on each team, but be prepared for that role to change at any time.

Roles can also change on the same team and even within the same game. Maybe your best hitter gets injured and your team needs more kills from you. Maybe the coach decides to change the lineup and you’ll be called upon to be the main passer or make more digs. Maybe the teammate that you normally count on to score points is having a terrible game and gets subbed out. You will be expected to step up your game in order to compensate.

As the whistle blows for each substitution, your role could change. Take stock of where you are on the court, the strengths and weaknesses of the players next to you and what your team needs on each play to side out and score points. Most of all, be flexible and use your strengths to make your team better.

The Role of the Bench

Roles are not just for starters. You may not be one of the six players that your coach starts the game with, but when needed you will be called upon to make key plays. Your role may be to do whatever is needed at the time.

Usually, a coach goes to the bench when things are not going as well as he’d hoped with the starting six. This is your chance to come into the game and change the energy, the chemistry, and the skill level.

There is nothing wrong with playing the role of a substitute. One of the most difficult things to do is to come in from the bench with lukewarm muscles and play at a high level immediately. But if you are on the bench, that is exactly what you will be asked to do.

If you do not start in a game, you should not be relaxing on the bench, chatting with your teammates. You could go in the game at any time, so pay close attention to what is happening on the court. The coach may just need you to fire a few tough serves or to dig a few balls, or to block that hot hitter to get out of the rotation. If you've been paying attention, you'll know what you need to do, what's not working for your team and how you can help.

Even if you’re just in the game for a play or two, your role is important to the team. Don’t be frustrated by it, just do the best you can every time you touch the ball. Your chance to start may be coming, but you need to prove that you can make plays when necessary when coming off of the bench if you want to earn your place in the starting line up. In the meantime, take your role seriously and play it well.