Can a libero serve and rotate? Explained for beginners

The role of libero has been introduced quite recently in American high school and college volleyball. The main focus of this player is defense. The rules of what they are allowed to do and what not also have changed over time. This can make it confusing to know what a libero is allowed to do and what not. To add to the confusion, a lot of competitions have different rules. It is important to know this as the other team can score a point if this player is making an unauthorized move. Let’s clear up the role of a libero.

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To understand what a libero does, we can talk about the positions on the court. There are 6 players per team. Three are standing in the front row and three in the back row. There are different roles, from setters that provide assist, spikers that score to middle blockers that defend. Middle blockers are often tall players. There are often two middle blockers per team, always one in the front row and one in the back row. Liberos often replace the middle blocker when they are in the back row as these are smaller players that are more agile.

The goal of the libero is to catch the ball after the other team has attacked and to keep the rally going. They are mainly focussing on defense but in some instances, they might have to replace the setter and provide an assist. Liberos stay in the back row and can go in and out of the court as they please (another player has to leave the court). This doesn’t count as a substitution so you will see the libero go on and off the court quite frequently. As liberos are not allowed to spike, they have to wear another colored jersey. This makes it easy for the referee to see what the role of this player is on the court.

Does libero rotate in volleyball?

Volleyball teams rotate over the court in a counterclockwise manner. Position 1 goes to position 6, then position 5, and so on. The goal is to make sure that all 6 players have stood on each part of the court during the match. These are just starting positions.

Once the rally restarts, players can move around again. Since a libero is not allowed to stand in the front row, he or she can’t take part in the full rotation. They often replace the middle blocker and rotate between positions 1, 6, and 5 only. So liberos often rotate but only on the last line of the court. They don’t make the full rotation as their team would.

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According to the rules of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), which organizes a lot of international competitions, a libero is not allowed to spike and attack.

In the USA the high school (NFHS) and college (NCAA) volleyball associations allow liberos to attack if they stand on the ground. This makes this position more dynamic as you are allowed to finish an attack. It can make the match more unpredictable as there is another attacker on the court.

The general way of defending is as follows: the libero catches the ball and passes to the setter. This requires a lot of ball control and precision. Then the setter has to pass it to a hitter. Finally, the hitter can attack. Remember that only three-ball contacts are allowed per team.

Great liberos can make spectacular saves and can be really important for a team. Given that they are always on the back row, they can really specialize in this position and become great defenders.

Not a lot of players want to take up this role as it is very intense to do so and most teams only need two liberos and more players in other positions. This can reduce your chances of making the team. A libero also has to deal with a lot of pressure as you are under attack all the time. Not every player wants to deal with that. Let’s take a look at some great dives below.

Liberos also have to motivate the team and they are often the captain of the team. They can inspire the other players with great defensive actions. Seeing that a team member is giving their all to win, can push the rest of the team to work harder and win more points.

Can a libero serve? In some competitions they can

It depends. In most professional international tournaments (such as the Olympics) and events that are organized by the FIVB (the international volleyball organization), the libero is not allowed to serve. This means that this player can only defend (with the exception of blocking) and provide assists. They are also not allowed to attack (spike). This limits the role of the libero and requires more effort from the other players on the court.

The role of libero was only introduced in NCAA (college) volleyball in the late nineties. Back then liberos were not allowed to serve either. Nowadays they changed the rules and liberos can serve in one specific position in the rotation. They are even allowed to spike (when standing still).

This means that the libero can take on a more offensive role than in FIVB organized competitions. The goal is to add more variety to the attack and to make volleyball more exciting overall.

According to NFHS rules (high school), liberos may serve in one rotation in a set. This is similar to NCAA rules. It can be hard for players to adjust to their new role once they go abroad as in most instances professional liberos are not allowed to serve. Each country can develop its own rules but they often follow the FIVB in that liberos are not allowed to serve. If you participate in a tournament it is always a great idea to check with your coach if there are specific rules.

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The main goal of the libero is to dig and dive to keep the ball in the air after the other team has attacked. This is done from the second row. Being able to control the ball and pass it to a team member is a big feat and liberos are very valuable. Each team can have only libero per set.

To conclude, we can say that the libero is a very interesting position that can make volleyball games more diverse. In some competitions, they are mainly defending whereas in others they can attack as well. It is a great addition to the game as smaller players are able to use their strengths in this position. It also makes the game more diverse and exciting as more strategies can be used.

Resources

https://www.ncaa.org/sports/2013/12/2/women-s-volleyball-rules-of-the-game.aspx