A Very Creative 6-2 Offensive System

At the Show-Me National Qualifier in Kansas City, MO this past weekend, I came across a unique and simple variation to a 6-2 offense. It’s basically a 6-2 offense with half the time the setter on the front row sets.

This is video of one of the top club volleyball Under-18 teams in the United States.

I would like to share with you some observations and why I believe this system to be so effective.

I’ll discuss below some advantages to this style of play and if this offense is right for your team.

Some basic conclusions…

Both setters stay in the game then entire time and are a critical part to success.

Back row setter for serve receive. The back row setter runs the offense for all balls serve received (runs the offense for just the served ball).

Front row setter for transition. The front row setter runs the offense for 1) all plays in transition, and 2) all plays run when the team is serving.

(The setters are #13 and #1 in the red uniforms)

In this video you’ll notice the team uses both setters, but sometimes the setter on the front row sets.

When the team is in serve receive, the setter in the back row runs the offense.

However, after the ball is sent over the net, if play continues, the setter in the back row focuses on defense and the setter on the front row now becomes the setter.

So, you could say when the team is in serve receive, for the first attack, the setter on the back row sets. Then, when in transition, the front row setter runs the offense.

Advantages to this system…

You still have 3 attackers in serve receive. In serve receive you always have 3 attackers. With a 5-1 offense, you have 3 attackers half the time (because the setter is on the front row for 3 rotations). With a 6-2, you always have 3 attackers.

No double block on transition attacks. In transition, when you have a good pass, your attackers likely won’t be up against a double block because the setter being front row will draw a blocker. Passing to the middle of the net will help you get a 1 on 1 for your outside or middle (playing opposite).

Back row setter available to track down poor passes. You don’t have to worry about a non-setter setting the ball when the back row setter makes the defensive play. The front row setter is on the front row ready to set in transition.

In transition, you’re basically running a 4-2 with a setter available out of the back row. I think this is valuable because often your team will make defensive plays where the ball is dug up off the net. In these situations where the pass is way off the net, the back row setter can step in to set. The point is you have a setter available in the back row to set errant digs. And this is much easier than the setter starting at the net then sprinting off to retrieve the ball.

A few other things I noticed…

Middle blocks the strong side attacker. I noticed the setter on the front row also sometimes blocks middle. I bet this is to allow the middle to move to right side to block the opposing strong side hitter.

Middle attacks from the right side. Also with the middle blocking strong side, they are out there ready to hit on the right side in transition. They wouldn’t be able to do this if they were blocking middle (unless they wanted to hit a slide).

The setter focuses on defense. With the front row setter setting in transition, the back row setter can focus solely on making defensive plays. No worry about transitioning to the net to set.

The setter doesn’t have to ever transition from the back row to set. In serve receive, the setter can push to the net. For transition plays, the setter is already at the net because they are front row.

You may be wondering, can your team run an offense like this?

To run this offense effectively, you’re going to need 2 setters that are very skilled at not just setting, but also attacking, blocking, and defense. And they also need to effectively dump/attack the second ball.

Most teams have trouble finding one setter that can do all those things, but you’re going to need two!

Your team will also need to play defense really well. You can’t pull your digs too far off the net because you don’t want to pull your front row setter off. The whole idea to using the front row setter instead of the back row setter is to freeze the opposing block which creates some holes for your attack.

Pulling your digs off the net keeps your setter from being a threat to attack. Not only that, but with the front row setter not a threat, you only have 2 attackers at the net!

This style of play could work really well for a good blocking team because a good block can make it much easier to play defense. A big block will help with positioning on defense and making accurate digs.

Setter Has Many Options

Digging the ball to the net allows the setter to have many options…

1) Attack/Dump, 2) Set the outside attacker, 3) Set the Middle Attacker, 4) Have the middle run a slide, 5) Have the Middle stay right side and attack from there.

New Libero Rules

libero rulesThere are some pretty big rule changes this year involving the Libero.

These are current rules for the libero for the 2013-2015 club seasons.

1. A coach can designate 2 team libero’s for the entire match.


2. Designate a libero per set.
If only designating 1 libero for the first set, after the first set is completed, the coach can designate a different libero for the second set.

Basically, when only designating 1 libero for the first set, the team has the option to designate a different player for libero in the following set.

Also, if only designating 1 libero at the start of the match, the team can only use 1 libero for each of the following sets.

If designating 2 libero’s at the start, those players must play libero the entire match. (no switching libero’s)

  • The libero or liberos are designated for the match. This means if you decide to designate 2 players as liberos, these players must be designated as liberos for the entire match. For example, you don’t have the option to have one player play libero in set 1, then have the same player be a regular player and substitute across the back row in set 2.
  • You can’t have 2 liberos on the court at the same time. Only one libero can be on the court at a time.
  • The libero can replace the other libero.
  • If a team uses 2 liberos, one libero will be designated at the starting libero. If you want a libero to play the first rally, the libero must be the starting libero.
  • On the libero tracking sheet, the letter “L” represents the first libero. The letter “R” represents the second libero.

The following are important libero rules to remember.

  • Which libero is on the court? Since there are now two liberos, it’s important to pay attention to which libero is on the court during game interruptions. For example, pay attention to which libero is on the court when a time out is called.
  • The right player must replace the libero. An important job for the assistant scorer is to pay attention to libero replacements. This is important because if the wrong player replaces the libero, then the team is “out of rotation”. The player that came into the game is either in the wrong spot in the rotation or they just needed to substitute back into the game. This is the most common mistake players make that has to do with libero issues.
  • There must be a completed rally between replacements (unless it’s the libero’s turn to serve). Remember, the libero can’t stay on the court the entire match. Every time the libero is replaced, the libero must be out of the game for a completed rally before entering back into the game.

Volleyball Nutrition for Weight Loss

I was recently asked a question about nutrition for sports and weight loss.

Here’s the question.

“I’m 15 years old and I’m a volleyball player. I need to stay in shape but I always feel bad when I eat because I don’t want to gain weight. I need ways to make myself get FULL FAST after I work out. Any advice?”

This was my response.

Eating a lot of food isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if you’re aware of what you’re eating, you can actually eat a ton of food and stay healthy and lean.

It’s all about what you eat, not the total amount.

Calories are a good thing if you are getting them from the right foods and the right combination of foods.

volleyball blog cross country

The following are some important nutrition tips for volleyball players and weight loss.

1. Eat smaller meals more often. If you eat often, you’ll likely notice a feeling of not being as nearly hungry as usual.

2. Eat more protein and fat. Protein and fat will often make you feel fuller.

3. Eat less carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates. Eating sugary foods will often make you more hungry. Focus on consuming a higher amount of protein and fat, and less carbs. Have a source of protein at every meal and you’ll fill up faster.

4. Eat your biggest meals around your workout. If you eat before, during, and after your volleyball workout, you’ll be using the calories you’re consuming. If you eat immediately after a workout, you’ll do a better job of absorbing the nutrients and calories.

The worst thing you could do is not eat near the time you workout and eat a large meal many hours after your workout. Eating late at night can lead to storing calories as fat.

5. Eat earlier in the day and hardly ever at night. Your liver is depleted of glycogen when you wake up in the morning. You need carbohydrates in the morning to replaced lost glycogen. You need calories right when you wake so don’t skip breakfast.

6. Workout more. Anaerobic exercise will help you with weight loss and volleyball performance. This is exercise that involves intense bouts of exercise, immediately followed by short rest periods. For example, sprint for 30 seconds then rest for a minute. Do a workout like this for 20 minutes twice a week. Do this 3 times a week.

On the other days, do some form of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is when you exercise at a consistent pace such as jogging for 30 minutes. The focus with aerobic exercise is burning fat while exercising. The focus of anaerobic exercise is building muscle and also burning fat and unwanted calories.

Anaerobic type exercise will allow you to burn calories all day long even when you aren’t working out. Aerobic exercise will burn fat while you work out and help you recover for your next highly intense workout.

Do both types of exercise to help with improving volleyball performance, weight loss and maintaining your desired weight.

7. Workout a lot, play volleyball, and stay active. If you’re really active with workouts and volleyball, then you really can just about get away with eating whatever you want. If you’re active all the time, you won’t have spare time to eat. Stay busy and don’t put yourself in a position where it’s easy to consume unnecessary calories.

Dig and Run Thru Tip Drill

What I like about this drill…

1. This is a great movement drill. Each time the player must get set read to dig a ball then immediately move forward to play a tip. This is great for becoming comfortable with moving your feet and getting in position to make the play.

2. Ton of reps in a short time. Just watch how many touches players get on the ball. Passes are low and fast because this is how they run their offense. Also, passing low and fast allows them to get in more reps.

When you think about it, it really comes down to how much you can get done in a given about of time.

You only have so much time to practice, so the better you are at making use of the time you have, the faster you’re going to improve.

3. Two different skills in one drill. I like it that they have to get set ready to dig, then have to move to make a play. A lot of players tend to get lazy when they just perform one skill at a time.

There are many situations where a player needs to perform multiple skills in sequence.

For example, if instead they just dig a ball and then go to the end of the digging line, they likely focus as hard and the technique would become lazy. This also teaches them to be able to perform one skill and then immediately follow with another skill. For example, dig a ball then go cover a hitter. Or when an outside hitter passes the serve, the outside must then get ready to approach and hit an outside set.

4. There’s nobody standing around not doing something. Every player has a job. Every player is part of the drill and is paying attention. In this drill, three players go at once while the other three players are a target, a ball tipper, and the other hands off balls.

Everybody is doing something and this makes the drill more efficient.

5. Players only need to do this drill for a short time. They are getting so many reps in, they don’t need to go for a long time. Just go for about a minute. After a minute have the groups switch.

Mastering the Outside Quick Set

Consistency and accuracy are the main focuses of this drill.

When first learning to set quick, always start by making setting as easy as possible.

Start by first tossing the ball directly to setter. You don’t want her to have to move. Just have her focus on consistent footwork for getting in position.

Why just focus on technique first and not anticipation?

In the beginning, the setter needs to learn what “good” is. They have to learn where they are trying to set the ball. They have to be able to see what a good set is.

The setter learns what’s a “good” set because the coach gives instant feedback with every repetition. This feedback is essential for keeping the setter and the coach on the same page as far as exactly what set is expected.

It’s hard to understand what’s “good” until the setter actually does it a few times. As the setter starts to get a feel of what it’s like to put the ball in the right place, the setter won’t have to think so much anymore and can just do it on feeling. You probably noticed the setter in the above video looks extremely relaxed. She’s not focused too hard because she’s set this same ball thousands of times before.

In this drill, the setter is setting a fast tempo outside set with the focus on where the ball needs to be set.

We want good repetitions. We aren’t so concerned about anticipating the pass or anything like that in the beginning. Just focus on using the same setting technique and footwork over and over again.

You want to build consistency and accuracy.

In the above video, setting this quick outside set doesn’t look that difficult because this setter has set thousands of volleyballs using the same footwork and setting motion.

This is how you want to first learn to set. Use the same motion over and over again.

Create drills where the setter has to set to a target. Make goals for so many sets to a target in a row. For example, the setter has a minute to to hit the target 5 sets in a row.

Once a goal has been reach, make a new goal.

Always strive for improving proficiency.

You can probably tell the setter in the above video has set so many times that she’s extremely comfortable with setting. She’s just going through the motions and hardly has to think about what she’s doing.

She’s developed a high level of confidence by spending hours and hours working on setting this particular set.

Volleyball or Cross Country?

volleyball blog cross countryI was recently emailed a question by a middle school volleyball player. She is basically trying to decide whether to play volleyball or cross country in high school.

The problem is the seasons are both in the fall and she doesn’t know which sport to pick.

She said she is pretty good at volleyball. She made the team without ever playing before. Her friends told her she looked like a natural.

However, she loves to run cross country.

I think this is a very interesting situation because both these sports are completely different.

Volleyball is a sport where it’s an advantage to be fast, coordinated, and athletic. If you’re tall, explosive, and jump well, then you’ll probably be good at volleyball.

Cross country is basically a contest to see who’s the fastest of the slowest athletes.

There’s nothing that will lower your vertical faster than running distance.

From a performance standpoint, I would consider which sport are you more likely to be successful at? Which sport are you physically and athletically more built for?

There’s basically 3 kinds of athletes.

1. Fast twitch.
2. Slow twitch.
3. A combination of fast and slow twitch.

Fast twitch means that your muscles are mainly made up of fast twitch muscle fibers. These types of muscle fibers allow you to make fast explosive movements.

The vertical jump is considered the ultimate test for explosiveness. Athletes that have a high vertical are considered to be fast twitch.

Slow twitch athletes are athletes that have muscle fibers more built for endurance sports.

If you win a 3 mile race, then you likely have more slow twitch muscle fibers.

Also, you can teach your fast twitch to act slow and vice versa.

For example, if you were mainly fast twitch, you could start running 3 miles a day and end up training your muscles to act slow. This is why running long distances crushes the vertical jump.

To be fast, you got to train fast. Or at least don’t train slow.

So back to the question, which sport should she play?

I would consider how athletic you are and how tall are you going to be?

Volleyball is a very technical sport when it comes to skills. You got to practice and play a lot in order to develop skills.

Also, if you’re under 5’6″, you’ll likely just have the opportunity to play back row. By the time you get to be a junior or senior, it can be very competitive to get a spot on varsity unless you’re fairly tall.

Especially if your school team is competitive, it can be difficult to make the team.

Also, how serious are you about volleyball?

Are you going to start playing club volleyball?

A lot of high schools are really competitive these days. Many players won’t make the team unless they have experience playing club.

I think it really comes down to how committed you are. If you love cross country and aren’t going to commit to volleyball, then do cross country.

Even if you do cross country at school, you could probably still do club volleyball in the winter.

You should probably at least play club volleyball so you can see if volleyball is a sport that you would really want to commit to in the future.

Problem Keeping Hard Spikes From Going Out

Recently a player came to me asking how to keep from hitting the ball out of bounds.

Often the ball would float deep and out when he would spike. He said the ball would even sometimes hit the back wall on the fly.

I’ve seen this happen very often in boys volleyball. I think the focus is on hitting hard rather than how they contact they ball. The ball is flying out of bounds because they haven’t put in the time to develop a good contact.

The most common advice a coach would give players in this situation would be to “snap that wrist”.

I do believe there is a time and a place for the “snap the wrist” concept, but it’s not always the answer.

If you have trouble keeping the ball in bounds, I would suggest developing at technique a friend of mine refers to as the “claw”.

volleyball blog claw

The “claw” basically entails focusing on getting your hand in a “claw like” hand position before making contact with the ball. Basically, you’re focusing on the pre-contact hand position.

Certainly one big advantage of the “claw” over the “snap the wrist” concept is the fact when clawing, you don’t have to worry about timing the snap. For example, many players mis-time the snap of the wrist and end up hitting the ball too deep or in the net.

When you claw, your hand is in a curved position optimal for creating topspin on the ball every time you make contact.

This is why I prefer the claw. With the claw, you’ll have more ball control because you have more control of the ball if you create spin.

Now I’m not saying that snapping your wrist is bad and that you shouldn’t ever snap your wrist.

I would say there are different situations better suited for each skill.

For example, when spiking overpasses and tight sets, this is a good time to snap. If you have a chance to beat the blocker and snap the ball down into the court, then you should do it. Snapping allows you to hit the ball at more of a downward angle. You’ll often also hit the ball harder because the contact is usually more flat when you snap.

I would prefer to claw more when the set is off the net or it’s a particular situation where controlling and placing the ball into the court is more important than just hitting with power.

Next time you watch volleyball, pay particular attention to how players contact the ball. You’ll soon notice that some players claw more than snap and vice versa. Some only claw, while others only snap.

Again, I would say that generally, the more the set is off the net, the better it is to claw at the ball.

Just watch spikers that are great at hitting the ball from the back row. Great jump servers and back row attackers are great at clawing. Usually the ones that miss the jump serves and crush 10’s into the net are the ones that are just snapping and not clawing.

Front Row Passing and Decision Making

volleyball blog front rowI was recently ask a question about how to play volleyball on the front row. This question was asked by a player that was very new to volleyball.

Her biggest problem was deciding when to take the serve.

She was basically getting confused about when to pass the ball and when to let the back row players pass the ball.

This is something that can be hard especially when first learning to play the game.

On short serves, the ball gets there fast and you don’t have much time to react. It’s also an awkward trajectory to pass the ball.

When in serve receive, you generally want the back row players to play the ball. If the ball is served really short over the net, you might have to help out and pass it. So when the other team is serving, your focus should be on watching where the ball is going to be served.

This is what’s so hard when first learning to play. You need to be good at anticipating where the serve is going. The better you are at anticipating, the better judgment you will have on whether or not to pass the ball.

As soon as you can tell the ball is going to a teammate, you should open up and face them to be ready to help out after they try to pass it. Especially if the other team serves really tough, you may have to help out your teammates and take the second team hit.

At first, this situation is hard. It’s hard to make good judgments if you are an inexperienced player. You just got to practice and get experience being in these situations.

At higher levels of volleyball, the object of the game is to pass the ball to your setter and then the setter sets the ball to a front row player to spike.

Spiking and blocking are your main responsibilities as a front row player. The goal is to pass the ball to the setter and then the front row player hits the ball over the net.

If you’re on the front row, it’s mainly the back row players responsibility to pass the serve. This is because when the back row passes the ball, this allows the front row player time to get ready to approach and spike the ball that will eventually be coming from the setter.

If you struggle at this, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It just takes practice. The more you play volleyball, the easier it will get. Just keep playing and soon it’ll be so natural you won’t have to think so much about what to do.