Volleyball Positions: Outside Hitter

Volleyball player spiking the ball during a volleyball match
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An outside hitter is the player who hits and blocks on the front left side of the court. This player is also known as a left side hitter. On offense, this person is usually one of the main passers and a go-to hitter. The outside hitter gets lots of swings at the ball not only because she is a solid hitter, but because the outside is where the ball goes most often when the pass is not perfect. The high outside set is the easiest and safest choice when the pass is off the net and other options are unavailable.

What Does an Outside Hitter Do During a Play?

  1. Passes the ball in serve receive
  2. On defense, she calls out the hitters on the other side of the net
  3. Watches the hitters see which one is coming her way
  4. Sets the block in the right place so the middle blocker can close to her
  5. On offense, runs the play that the setter calls
  6. Is ready to take a good swing or make a good play over the net whether the set is good or bad
  7. Covers the other hitters

What Attributes Are Important in an Outside Hitter?

  • Good height, but not necessarily the tallest on the team
  • Good ball-handling skills
  • Good passer and digger
  • Solid hitter who can kill a perfect set and can also work with an off the net or over the shoulder set

Starting Position

The outside hitter plays on the front left side of the court. As she rotates through the front row, she will move from middle front or right front to her spot on the left side once the serve crosses the net.

Play Development

The outside hitter has to make sure that she knows where all the hitters are before the ball is served. She watches the hitters move around the court and calls out the play as it develops to help the middle blocker follow the hitting patterns. The outside hitter then watches for the player who will hit on her side of the court and sets the block for the middle blocker. If the opponent's setter is in the front row, the outside hitter can help the middle blocker defend against the dump.

Setting the Block

Once the outside hitter sees the ball is set to her side of the court, she needs to set the block in the right position. She makes sure to take or give the line shot based on the coach's instructions and sets the block accordingly. She must set the block early so that the middle can see her and close to her instead of running her down and weakening the chances of a solid block. Then she needs to penetrate the net and go for the block.

Before the Serve

The outside hitter is a key passer in serve receive. Make sure that you hear the play that the setter calls and know what you're expected to hit as well as what the other hitters are going for. Then concentrate on the server and on getting the setter a perfect pass so your team can run your offense.

After the Pass

Once the ball is passed, get to the left side and just outside the court and be ready if the setter goes to you. You may be hitting high outside, or a faster set to the outside. You may even hit in the middle. Don't give away where you are going until you have to in order to keep their blockers guessing. But make sure you get there on time for the set that is intended for you. If the ball is set elsewhere, get over to your hitter and cover her in the event that she gets blocked.

If the other team gets the ball by your block you need to get all the way off the net and just outside the court to be ready to hit. In transition, the dig is more likely to be anywhere so be prepared to help the setter out with the second contact if the ball comes your way.

More than likely, you will hit a lot of balls in transition because it is the most available set off the dig. Be ready for a set that is tight, off the net or bump set from the back row and over your shoulder. It is your job to make a good play on the set for the third contact no matter where the ball is placed. If the ball does not come your way, get over and cover the hitter who does get the set.