Before you can get into the more subtle nuances of Volleyball like their formations, strategies, and abilities, it's important to understand the positions of the sport. Just as you must be familiar with the responsibilities of a point guard or wide receiver, it's necessary to grasp what your position must do or physically cannot. One player with a unique ruleset is the team's Libero and for new athletes with little knowledge of the sport, they'll be thrown by the position's abilities on-court.
So, whether you're coming in blind or just want a new perspective, take some time to look through CoachUp's handy guide to the Libero. These defensive specialists must dominate the court with consistency over each and every point -- if that sounds like your cup of tea, search no further!
Technically speaking, the Libero is a defensive specialist, but probably not in the way you're used to. In other sports, a defensive specialist has been described as somebody like the Memphis Grizzlies' Tony Allen, a stingy man-to-man defender with middling offensive abilities. But if he's got an open dunk, lay-up, or three-point attempt, Allen is more than welcome to fire away.
In Volleyball, however, the Libero's defensive specialist must stay in a back row position and cannot physically attempt to block or attack the ball when it's above the net at any point. Although Liberos are allowed to serve the ball in particular situations, it's almost as if you were playing Allen just to guard the opposing team's best player, provide stellar defense, and set his team up for the forthcoming offensive possession. Thusly, the best Liberos aren't always the most athletic or tallest on the court, but the ones that are consistent, quick, and react well to opposing hits in their zone.
Free To Fly
The Libero must be registered as such before any tournament or game and cannot be replaced by another player unless an injury occurs. Furthermore, this player has the ability of unlimited substitutions and may switch with any player in the back row while the ball is out of play. These athletes must wear a different color jersey so their teammates and referees can quickly judge whether or not a hit or substitution was made legally.
For all intents and purposes, the Libero is back row-roaming athlete built to dig out tough returns, set their teammates up, and be universally reliable in all situations. Thanks to their ability to sub in-or-out whenever they please, the Libero must be ready to compete at the highest level, at the most important positions, and in potentially game-saving or game-ending situations. Although they cannot directly attack, the Libero keeps the ball off the ground and helps transition the defense into offense.
Sacrifice Your Body
Ultimately, these players need to leave it all on the court no matter what -- this means they must dive, jump, slide, dig, and sacrifice their body in any way possible for their team. It may seem cliche, but it's true -- the best Liberos are those than will do whatever it takes to win the game for their team. Emotionally, the Libero is one of the team's most level-headed leaders and in charge of keeping the roster focused and ready.
The Libero position is not for the faint of heart because it takes a considerable amount of practice to tailor your game to a strictly defensive sense. At first, it may be difficult to get used to, but the most committed of athletes will find solace in being one of the team's most reliable defenses, like a goalkeeper of sorts. So, if you've been looking to evolve your role on the squad and are willing to hit the floor hard, then Libero practice should be in your immediate future. All the best volleyball squads win with an adept, smart, and athletic Libero -- are you next?
(Related: Read about popular formations + strategies here.)
At the end of the day, the Libero position is a very special challenge for any aspiring Volleyball player to undertake, but it's a nice project for anybody trying to elevate their game to another level. If you're the type of athlete that strives for more responsibility, pressure, and prowess, this could be the position for you. As it is with most major sports, the glory lies with scoring, slamming, and spinning their way to the end zone or basket. However, the Libero distinctly puts those desires to the side and focuses solely on retention and defense -- a foregone conclusion in many sports today.
If you're struggling with your digs, sets, or general serve knowledge, consider booking one of CoachUp's private trainers to help you out along the way. Our advanced team will have you playing with more confidence, skill, and desire in no time -- what are you waiting for?
Be prepared for the biggest moments by mastering the small ones off the court.