Libero Rules You Need to Know

Nicole Davis, Team USA Libero

The game of volleyball can be extremely nuanced with specific rules applying only to specific positions. And the libero is arguably the most regulated role out of the six spots on the court. Its historically been a defensive position, but new rules are being introduced that will make the libero more of an offensive force. Let's take a closer look at some the unique components of the libero position. 

What is a libero?

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.

When does the libero play?

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

What are the unique rules for the libero?

  • Serving: With the exception of the FIVB tournaments, the libero can now serve in all USAV and NCAA sanctioned events. This is a departure from the rules in previous years when the libero could only enter the game after the player they were subbing in for had rotated out of the serving position.
  • Setting: In recent years the libero has become the default 2nd contact if the setter touches the ball on a block or is caught in some other defensive situation (thus ineligible to take the set). As such liberos can do a fair bit of setting in any given match, but they are subject to different rules than the setter.  however, the rules it a bit more complicated because its subject to where on the court the libero is positioned when contact with the ball occurs.
  1. Behind the attack line: If the libero is behind the attack line, they can either set the ball with their hands or they can put up an underhand set.
  2. Touching/close to the attack line: If they libero has one foot that is close to or touching the attack line, they need to make sure that they lift the “offending” foot before making contact with the bal
  3. In front of the attack line: If a libero has two feet in front of the attack line, they can either: a) underhand set it and have the hitter attack it as they would any other set (meaning the hitter will take an approach, jump and swing to make contact with the ball above the net), or b) set the ball overhand but have the hitter stay on the ground to attack the ball from a standing position (no approach, jump or contact above the net).
  • Attacking the ball: Another change is that a libero can now attack the ball so long as it is not entirely above the height on the net. This basically means that the libero must stand and attack the ball from a reaching position (no jumping). If she/he jumps and attacks then it's more than likely the contact was made while the ball was above the net, thus is an illegal contact.
  • Passing: So long as a libero passes the ball underhand (no overhand touches), they can do so from anywhere on the court.
  • Blocking: Liberos still cant block.