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Volleyball Strategy

Player Specialization
Players do not usually master all six skills, but rather focus on one or more of them in connection with the tactics employed by each team. The most common specialization comprises three positions: attacker/blocker, setter and libero (defensive specialist).

Generally, tall players with the ability to jump high are utilized as attackers/blockers, where they attempt to block or spike opponents' initial hits and return the ball at high speed on steep trajectories so that the ball lands before the other team has time to react.

Setters have the onerous task for orchestrating the offense of the team. They aim for second touch and their main responsibility is to place the ball in the air where the attackers can hit the ball into the opponents' court. They have to be able to operate with the hitters with variety and break up the enemy's block. Setters need to have swift and skilful appraisal and tactical accuracy.

Liberos are defensive specialists, who are responsible for receiving the attack or serve (the dig) and are usually the players on the court with the quickest reaction time and best passing skills. Liberos do not necessarily need to be tall, as they never play at the net, allowing shorter players with strong passing skills to excel.

Middle blockers are players that can perform very fast spikes that usually take place near the setter. They are specialized in blocking, since they must attempt to stop equally fast plays from their opponents and then quickly set up a double block at the sides of the court.

Outside hitters, also known as power hitters, attack from near the antennas. Since most sets to the outside are high, the outside hitter may take a longer approach, sometimes even starting from outside the court sideline. An outside hitter generally relies on a powerful swing to score, but some offensive plays may call for an angled approach and/or quick spikes to confound the defense. Outside hitters must also master passing, since they generally help the libero in receiving the opponent's serve.

A strong-side hitter is an outside hitter that specializes in attacking from the front-left position. This hitting position is advantageous for a right-handed hitter, because the set will come from the right, and can therefore be delivered efficiently to the hitting arm. Conversely, the attacker in the front-right position is the weak-side hitter. Since the set is coming from his left, a right-handed hitter in the weak-side position will have to swing across his body to attack.

Formations
The 6-2 and 5-1 are commonly used formations in competitive volleyball.

6-2
In the 6-2 formation, a player always comes forward from the back row to set. The three front row players are all in attacking positions. A 6-2 lineup must therefore have two setters, who line up opposite to each other in the rotation. In addition to the setters, a typical lineup will have two middle hitters and two outside hitters. By aligning like positions opposite themselves in the rotation, there will always be one of each position in the front and back rows. After service, the players in the front row move into their assigned positions.

5-1
The 5-1 formation has only one setter, who assumes setting responsibilities regardless of his position in the rotation. The team will therefore have three front-row attackers when the setter is in the back row, and only two when the setter is in the front row.

The player opposite the setter in a 5-1 rotation is called the opposite hitter. In general, opposite hitters do not pass; they stand behind their teammates when the opponent is serving. The opposite hitter may be used as a third attack option (backrow attack) when the setter is in the front row.

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