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Volleyball 101 – Serve receive confusion? – #coaching #volleyball

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by: Neal Kasamoto

Another tricky aspect of volleyball is the serve-receive formation. Most teams will employ 3 passers.  However, one of those passers is actually a front row player! If the setter is in the back row, then the formation has one of the front row players, usually the Left-Side (outside) hitter in the front row dropping back to recieve serve becoming the third passer.  The setter takes the 2nd ball so the formation tries to “hide” the setter and have someone else pass the serve. That is why outside hitters also have to be “good” passers.  An outside hitter might pass the ball and hit the ball in the same sequence.

See the link below for the various serve-receive formations in each rotation for a 6-2 offense (two setters, setter coming from back row).  In a 5-1 offense with one setter, the opposite hitter usually does not recieve serve, so it is similiar to a 6-2 offense.


Every coach will do something a bit different but hiding the setter by dropping a front row player back to pass the serve is common to all.  Which brings up the concept of overlaps.

Prior to the ball being put into play all of the players need to be in the correct rotation.  If they are out of rotation it is referred to as an “overlap.”  This means if the rotation is player 1-2-3-4-5-6 then and overlap would be 2-1-3-4-5-6.

To check for overlap there are two criteria:

  • Players in the same row cannot cross beyond the player to the left or right of them in the rotation
  • Players in the back row cannot be in front of the player directly in front of them in the rotation.  This means that the middle back cannot be in front of the player in middle front but can be in front of players in right front or left front.

An overlap is a violation that results in a point for the other team. 

Check out the diagrams in the link above and you will begin to see how the players are shifted around without overlapping to recieve serve.





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