Volleyball: Difference between 6-2 and 5-1 rotation (2024)

Mike Zacchio|mzacchio@lohud.com

The most popular player on the football field is the quarterback — the one who calls the shots and makes the big plays happen — yet on the volleyball court, it’s just the opposite.

Eyes are drawn to the 6-foot-tall hitters who put away kills with power and ease. Lost in the shuffle is the player who makes it all happen: the setter.

Aside from the disinterest in volleyball as a whole compared to football, it’s easy to understand why a setter is overlooked compared to their gridiron counterpart. Often times, a quarterback must scramble around or make pinpoint passes in order to be successful. A setter, for all intents and purposes, just needs to put a hittable ball in the air for their teammates in the front row to slam it down.


That’s the gist of it, and they’re asked to do all of this without being chased by a 300-pound behemoth trying to tackle them.

But while a setter — or almost any other position in any other sport, for that matter — is in less danger than a quarterback, it does not take away from their importance and value on the court. A volleyball coach decides how they will run their offense not based on the quality of talent in their hitter, but by their setter or setters.

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.

Both systems can be used on any team, so it’s up to the coach to decide which one will work best.

The 5-1 system

The most popular rotation among volleyball teams from the high school level to the U.S. Olympic team, a 5-1 system will create a more consistent set for a team’s offense since only one player will be doing the setting whether she is in the front or back row.

Aside from creating consistency with the serve for a team’s hitters, a 5-1 system also creates more consistency in leadership on the court. With one primary setter, one player is controlling the offense.

Hen Hud head coach Diane Swertfa*ger opts for the 5-1 because senior setter Emily Barthelmes is "our smartest, most unassuming setter in our rich history," which includes 12 section titles in the past 14 seasons.

The 6-2 system

When a team runs a 6-2 system, it uses whichever player is in the back row as its setter so that it will have six offensive options — an outside hitter, a middle hitter, a right-side hitter, a hitter from the back row, the libero or defensive specialist in the back row, and the setter from the back row.

A team will use one player as a setter when she is in the back row and another as the right-side hitter in the front row. The two play opposite of each other on the court so that one is always in the front row and the other is always in the back. Teams will usually opt for this system when they have multiple players who can hit and set with great success.

Story continues below photo.

The difference between silver and gold

John Jay head coach Tom Rizzotti led the Indians to six section finals in his previous 10 years before last year, but never came away with a title.

Armed with one of his most talented teams during his tenure last year, one more than capable of winning that elusive title, Rizzotti made the gutsy decision to change systems in the middle of the Section 1 tournament. Rizzotti moved then-junior Taylor McCarthy into the full-time right-side hitting role and kept then-senior Amanda Flayhan as the primary setter.

John Jay not only won its first section title under Rizzotti, but it also won a regional championship and berth in the state championships in Glens Falls.

“I felt like there was something we were missing (on the outside),” Rizzotti said earlier this year, admitting he was “ridiculously” nervous about making a significant change at such a crucial point in the year. “I think the results speak for (themselves) in terms of (McCarthy’s) capability as an outside hitter.”

Around the section

There are positives and negatives to take away from choosing to run either system. Teams may run the risk of inconsistent sets and communication issues with a 6-2 system, but it also allows a team to utilize every player on the court in an aggressive manner.

The 5-1 system may take away an offensive weapon, but it also means that a team likely has an exceptional setter who is also an on-the-court presence off the ball.

Mahopac head coach Jay Melville is running a 6-2 system for the first time, using senior Casey Link and freshman Carah Vitkus as setters. “We’ll see how that one goes,” he joked during the preseason.

Melville lost two 6-foot hitters to graduation in Alayne Felix and Niamh Dodd, who did the majority of their damage in the middle of the court, so now he is looking to run his offense more on the outsides of the court.

“We’re looking to run some faster sets because we’re not as tall,” Melville said. “It’s a different look for us. … With Carah and Casey in the front row, I can actually run a little out of the right side, too, which actually helps because it keeps the other teams a little more honest at the net and maybe that will open up my middles a little more.”

Twitter: @Zacchio_LoHud

Volleyball: Difference between 6-2 and 5-1 rotation (2024)


Is a 5/1 or 6/2 rotation better? ›

Firepower. The 5-1 rotation's hallmark is its consistency. Having a single setter ensures a uniform setting style, which can be crucial in tight matches. On the other hand, the 6-2 rotation boasts of offensive firepower, with more hitters ready to unleash devastating spikes.

What is a 5/1 rotation in volleyball? ›

What does "5-1" stand for? "5-1" means 5 attackers and 1 setter. It is one of the most commonly used rotation techniques in indoor volleyball, and variations can be freely applied, especially based on the skillsets of the defending players. In this article, I will explain each of the 6 rotations one by one.

Why is it called a 6-2 in volleyball? ›

The first number, six, represents the number of hitters on the court and the second number, two, stands for the number of setters. Usually, there will be three front-row hitters and a back-row setter. After three rotations of this, the setter rotates to the front row and becomes a hitter.

What is the difference between 5 2 and 6-2? ›

A 5′2″ person next to a 6′2″ person would see a 12 inch difference in height.

What is a 6-2 offense in volleyball? ›

6-2 With Subs Summary

Teams start off with a specialist setter in the back row and a specialist opposite attacker in the front row. As the setter rotates to the frontcourt, she is replaced by a front-row opposite. As the opposite rotates to a backcourt position, she is replaced by a back-row setter.

What are the pros and cons of 5-1 rotation volleyball? ›

While the 5-1 formation has its advantages, such as consistent setting and the ability to have a dedicated setter on the court at all times, it also comes with some potential disadvantages: Limited Blocking Height:In the 5-1 formation, the designated setter is often one of the shorter players on the team.

Does a 5-1 rotation have a libero? ›

5-1 System Summary:

One of the attackers may be temporarily replaced by the libero whilst in the backcourt. Every player has a very defined role. The players will fulfill their role regardless of their position on the court. All players may remain on the court for all rotations without any substitutions required.

Can you have two setters in volleyball? ›

There is usually one setter on the court although some systems use two setters.

What is a 53 in volleyball? ›

For example, a 10 set is a high ball to the left side, a 53 is a 3 foot high set to the middle of the court (in front of the setter), and a 61 is a 1 foot high set right behind the setter.

What is the 6-2 with two setters? ›

6-2 volleyball rotation is a strategy that involves two setters who receive when positioned at the back and has six possible attackers in front. This is different from other methods such as the 5-1 and 4-2 rotations.

How do you play 6-2 in volleyball? ›

In a 6-2 formation, the setters will typically be positioned on opposite sides of the court, with one setter on the left side and one on the right side. The other four players will be positioned in the front row, with two players on the left side, one player in the middle, and one player on the right side.

What is a 6 rotation player 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.


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