Volleyball Formations

Volleyball Formations: The Key To Winning Games

Looking to turn your team into a well-oiled machine? Mastering volleyball formations might the key to winning your next game…

The game of volleyball is fast-paced, physical, and fun. The six players must work in concert to achieve the goal of earning a point.

When a team is well-practiced and everyone can play every position, understanding volleyball formations and executing them are the key to winning a game.

But first, everyone on the team needs to master the basic skills of each position

Basic Volleyball Skills

The basic volleyball skills are serving, passing, setting, spiking, blocking, and digging.

In serving, not all coaches take the time to encourage players to serve aggressively and win points with aces. While not every player will have the strength or momentum to create lots of aces with their serving, there is certainly nothing wrong with encouraging all players to always go for the ace.

This oversight can turn a great strategy into a mediocre strategy. The key to victory is the optimal use of every position on the court.


Passing is critical in volleyball. Every member of the team needs to be proficient at this skill. If you can’t pass, then you can’t set your team up to score.

Great passers have the ability to quickly and accurately place the ball for awesome scoring opportunities. When a passer gets the ball to the setter in the sweet spot, the setter can get the ball in position for a killer spike!

Each position on the team is equally valuable.


Many coaches don’t spend time training players on blocking. The move is honestly not complicated, but without proper timing, blocking can be wasted.

Some coaches have trained players to perform “fake” blocking to put the other team’s spiker off rhythm. This can lead to a disconnect in the opposing team and force them to commit errors.


One skill that all players should be good at is digging. Diggers are responsible for saving a team from losing points in every match. Because diggers usually end up hitting the floor – hard – it is not a desirable move to make.

But you can save your team from losing points by taking on the dig. Being a great digger makes you an incredible asset!


The setter has a big job: he or she runs the offense.

While blockers and diggers concentrate on stopping the other team from scoring, the setter places the ball for the attackers and creates scoring opportunities. Building up the skill of being a good setter takes a lot of time and effort.

Setting may look easy, but it requires just the right balance, proper hand placement, and just the right amount of force.

All of these skills are essential for a team, and knowing how to perform in each position is just as critical to the overall strategy for a game. 


Volleyball Formations: Player Positions

A simple diagram we’ve put together can give you an understanding of where the players perform:

Volleyball Positions & Formations: Diagram of player positions on a volleyball court [VolleyballHero.com]

Within these positions, you have setters and hitters. Setters keep the ball in play and place the ball into position for spikers at the net. 

Standard Volleyball Formations

Most teams use one of three formations in volleyball: “4-2”, “6-2” and “5-1”. The numbers in the formations correspond with the number of hitters and setters on the court.

4-2 Formation

The 4-2 formation allows for a good defense.

Newly formed teams or beginners use this formation to prevent the other team from scoring. In 4-2, there are four hitters and two setters.

The two setters position themselves opposite each other during rotation to make sure there is always a setter in the front row and a setter in the back row.

Front row setters are in the center-front position and hitters are on the flank when the ball is in play. With only two attackers, the options for offensive strategies are limited, but the setter can always put the ball over the net if the team formation is not optimal.

6-2 Formation

The 6-2 formation puts all three front row players into attack positions and a fourth player from the back row can come to the front. This allows all players to perform as hitters while using two players as setters. The 6-2 is more offensive in nature than the 4-2 formation.

The prime advantage of 6-2 is the maximization of offensive plays when you have 3 front-row hitters available. But the two setters have to be great hitters too because they don’t usually set up plays.

5-1 Formation

In the 5-1 formation, one player acts as the setter from a position in the back row, and the players up front are the attackers. The setter moves fluidly between the front and back rows as needed.

This allows the remaining five attackers the opportunity to score during a rally. The player opposite the setter in 5-1 formation is called the opposite hitter.

Opposite hitters don’t pass the ball; they remain behind their teammates during the opponent’s serve. This allows the opposite hitter to act as a third attacker when the setter is upfront.

This gives the setter at least three attackers to choose from when getting ready for a point play.


Volleyball Formations

Each formation depends on the strength of each player in their position, how the opposition responds to the talents of your team, and how flexible your team is in changing formation on the fly.

For the coach, knowing his or her players well and studying the style of play of the opponents is the best way to determine which formations are most likely to yield a victory.


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