Understanding The 6 Offensive Systems in Volleyball | How to Coach Volleyball (2024)

Every offensive system in volleyball revolves around who is responsible for taking the second touch in a rally (i.e. The Setter).

With volleyball rotations, players must rotate their starting position on the court in a clock-wise direction every time their team sides-out (wins the point when the other team served). Throughout a game, players will start in six different locations, and will be in the front row for half the time and in the back row for the other half.

Coaches must take into account these twelve lineup situations (because of serve and serve receive) and decide who the setter is for each one.

3 Questions for a Successful Volleyball Offense

1. Where is the passing target?

A majority of volleyball hitters are right-handed and have an easier time hitting a ball coming from the right side compared to the left.

Because of this, the most common passing target is ~5′ off-center to the right, and 3′-5′ off the net. This allows two front row hitters to be “in front” of the setter and be facing the ball as it comes toward them while attacking.

    • If the setter is front row, they will have two hitters in front of them
    • If the setter is back row, they will have two hitter in front of them and one hitter behind

Setters can set from anywhere on the court. If there is a team of lefty-hitters, the passing target should be changed accordingly.

The passing target may change slight depending on the type of attack (free ball/serve/digging)

    2. Who is the 1st setting option?

      • “The Setter”
        • Can be either front row or back row
          • If front row, it means there are two front row attackers
          • If back row, it means there are three front row attackers
      • Setters usually have their “base” position in right front or right back (sometimes even middle front), to efficiently get to the passing target for the second contact

    3. Who is the 2nd setting option?

      • Defense is a team activity and setters should have a defense-first mindset
      • If the setter takes the first contact, who is responsible for the second contact?
        • Usually the libero

    What Do the Numbers in a Volleyball Offense Mean?

    There are six possible offensive systems in volleyball. The six offensive systems are:

      4-2, 6-2, 5-1, 5-2, 6-3, and 6-6

              • The first number is the number of hitters (after six rotations)
              • The second number is the number of setters (after six rotations)

            4-2 Offensive System

            A very common offensive system is a 4-2 – two setters, opposite from each other, who are both setting from the front row. Because they are both setting from the front row, they each have two hitting options.

            After six rotations, there will have been four hitters and two setters.


                • Simple and consistent serve receive formations
                • Less chaos transitioning from defense to offense
                • Setters are a front-row, offensive threat
                • Setters don’t need to release from the back row on defense
                • Hitters get more consistent sets
                • Opens up option of middles running slides


                  • Only two hitting options may result in a less dynamic offense

                When to Use:

                    • You have an inexperienced team learning rotations
                    • You have two tall setters

                  6-2 Offensive System

                  The most common offensive system is the 6-2 – two setters, opposite from each other, who are both setting from the back row. Because they are setting in the back row, they each have three hitting options.

                  After six rotations, there will have been six hitters and two setters.


                      • Specialized attackers can go in for the setters when they are front row
                      • Three attackers creates a more dynamic offense
                      • Allows for more players to be used in the lineup


                        • Setters must play defense before releasing to set, which sometimes results in a chaotic transition from defense to offense

                      When to Use:

                          • You have competent setters

                        5-1 Offensive System

                        A fun offensive system is a 5-1 – one setter, who sets all the way around, from both the front and back row.

                        After six rotations, there will have been five hitters and only one setter.


                            • Hitters get consistent sets
                            • Setter gets a ton of reps and stays in the flow of the game
                            • Other team may forget when your setter is front row, resulting in setter kills when she is front row and baiting the block when she is back row


                              • A new serve receive formation every rotation
                              • Your setter might get injured
                              • Your setter might get physically tired and lose focus
                              • Your setter might get emotionally tired and frustrated, and negatively affect team

                            When to Use:

                                • You have one star setter who you want to develop further

                              5-2 Offensive System

                              An uncommon offensive system is the 5-2 – two setters, with one of them setting in the front row and the other setting in the back row. They sub in for each other and share the position.

                              After six rotations, there will have been five hitter and two setters.


                                  • There is a right side hitter for half of the rotations
                                  • Middles can run slides for the other half of the rotations
                                  • The other team may forget when your setter is front row, resulting in setter kills when she is front row and baiting the block when she is back row


                                    • Playing only half the game may interrupt the setters’ flow

                                  When to Use:

                                      • You have one tall and one short setter
                                      • You have one fast and one slow setter

                                    6-3 Offensive System

                                    Another simple offensive system is a 6-3 – three out of the six players are designated as the setters (the lineup must have the setters alternating). Whenever a designated player enters middle front or middle right, they become the setter.

                                    After six rotations, there will have been six hitters and three setters.


                                        • Simple rotations – easy to learn
                                        • Useful for introducing designated positions/switching after a serve


                                          • May not be dynamic enough for higher level volleyball

                                        When to Use:

                                            • You have three players with better ball control than the rest
                                            • When you are first teaching players how to switch positions after a serve

                                          6-6 Offensive System

                                          The most basic offensive system is a 6-6 – also called “play where you are.”

                                          During rallies, players stay and play whatever position they are in. The coach designated a position to set from – usually front middle or front right. Whichever player is in that zone becomes the setter for that rally.

                                          After six rotations, there will have been six hitters and six setters.

                                          This system is often used with beginning players who have not yet specialized by position.


                                              • Very easy to learn
                                              • Useful for teaching beginners
                                              • Gives each player the experience of being the setter


                                                • Constantly changing angles and responsibilities makes it difficult for a beginner to learn any position on a deeper level
                                                • Giving new players a consistent position will allow them to learn the game faster and become competent at one or two skills

                                              When to Use:

                                                  • Rec leagues

                                                Serve Receive Formations

                                                See diagrams of the serve receive formations for a 4-2, 6-2, 5-1, and 5-2.

                                                Understanding The 6 Offensive Systems in Volleyball | How to Coach Volleyball (2024)


                                                How many offensive systems are there in volleyball? ›

                                                The two most common offensive systems in volleyball are the 5-1 system, which uses five hitters and one setter for all six rotations, and the 6-2 system, which uses a total of six hitters and two different setters, depending on where they are in the rotation.

                                                What is a 6-6 offense in volleyball? ›

                                                6-6 rotation Summary:

                                                Everyone plays every position. The designated setter zone can be zone 2 (front-right) or zone 3 (front-middle), with the other two front row players as attackers. All back row players are passers and defenders. Front row players stay in their positions and don't switch back-and-forth after serves.

                                                What is the 6 man formation in volleyball? ›

                                                How it works: Six players line-up in base position on one half of the court. The front-row players turn around to face the back-row players so that their backs are to the net. Left and right front act as hitters while middle front is the setter.

                                                What is the offensive technique in volleyball? ›

                                                In volleyball, offense refers to the strategies and tactics a team employs to score points against their opponents. An effective offense typically involves a combination of accurate setting, precise passing, and powerful attacking.

                                                What is a 6 3 system in volleyball? ›

                                                The team consists of 3 players who will both set and attack, and 3 players who will only attack; Every hybrid setter/attacker will set for two consecutive rotations. All players are able to remain on court for all rotations without any substitutions required.

                                                How many setters are there in a 6'6" offense? ›

                                                6-6 Offensive System

                                                The coach designated a position to set from – usually front middle or front right. Whichever player is in that zone becomes the setter for that rally. After six rotations, there will have been six hitters and six setters.

                                                What is a 62 offense in volleyball? ›

                                                The 6-2 volleyball rotation, which is commonly called the 6-2 offense, is a system used to optimize the offensive lineup of a volleyball team. Volleyball offensive systems are named based on the number of setters and hitters on the court. For example, a 6-2 volleyball rotation would include. 2 players that set.

                                                Can a setter set from the back row? ›

                                                The short answer is yes, but she has two primary limitations. One is that she is not allowed to block. The other is that she is not allowed to attack the ball above the height of the net. This includes jump set tips or failed attempts at saves that go over, too.

                                                What are the 6 skills in volleyball with definition? ›

                                                The following are described: serving, passing (forearm underhand passing), setting (overhead passing), attack options (hitting/spiking), blocking (from attack and defend positions), and defensive skills (rolling & sliding).

                                                What is a 33 in volleyball? ›

                                                3: A 3 (also referred to as a 32 or 33) is a shoot set between the outside and middle hitters. Much like a combination of a 1 and a shoot. 1: A 1 (also referred to as a quick) is a low set that is set about 1' above the tape of the net for the middle attacker.

                                                What is offensive technique? ›

                                                An offensive competitive strategy is a type of corporate strategy that consists of actively trying to pursue changes within the industry. Companies that go on the offensive generally make acquisitions and invest heavily in research and development (R&D) and technology in an effort to stay ahead of the competition.

                                                What does 10 mean in volleyball? ›

                                                ATTACK LINE: Also known as the '10 foot line', it is 3 meters away from the net and is present on both sides of the court. BACK ROW ATTACK: A move where a player behind the attack line hits the ball. At the moment when he jumps to hit the ball he must be behind the attack line.

                                                What different volleyball playing systems are there? ›

                                                Every year, volleyball teams, whether at the middle school, high school, or collegiate level, must determine the most suitable system of play to enhance their competitiveness. The 5-1, 6-2, and 4-2 systems are among the options available, but the 5-1 and 6-2 are the most commonly used.

                                                What is a 4 2 offense in volleyball? ›

                                                This offensive system designates four players as attackers, and two players as setters. The two setters start opposite each other, usually in zones 1 and 4. The middles will then be in zones 3 and 6 and the outside attackers will be in zones 2 and 5, following the setters in the rotation order.

                                                How many different types of volleyball are there? ›

                                                Are there different versions of volleyball? There are a number of different types of volleyball. Indoor is played inside, beach volleyball is played on sand, and international volleyball is highly competitive, walleyball is played where you can hit the ball off the walls.

                                                Is there offense in volleyball? ›

                                                Volleyball offense is how a team can attempt to score a point by causing the ball to land on the opposing teams side of the court.


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