Volleyball Offensive Systems

The advantages to coaching the 4-2, 5-1, and 6-2 offenses.

Part of helping your volleyball athletes improve is exposing them to different, and sometimes uncomfortable situations. Today, we will be discussing different volleyball offensive sets and the advantages to each.

If you coach a volleyball team, you likely employ one of three offensive sets: the 4-2 offense, the 5-1 offense, or the 6-2 offense. Today, we’ll give you a short breakdown of those systems, plus a few others.

Schools looking to get a deep analytical understanding of their offensive formations should schedule a demo with Krossover to receive a free 1-match breakdown. We can show you hitter tendencies, blocking schemes, and give your athletes the stats and film they need right on their iPhones or any other mobile device.

The 4-2 Offense

The 4-2 offense is a basic and simple offensive set, and many lower-level teams use it because of its simplicity and the fact that the active setter doesn’t have to worry about anything other than setting the ball. Many college, pro, and national teams favor other offenses to the 4-2 with one exception: the USSR women’s team against the USA in 1989.

Some of the biggest strengths of the 4-2 are that the offense is developed in a way that is easier for setters, the setter can pass in the back right, and a team can employ a back row attack. Weaknesses of this system are that it on features two attackers, and that the setter may be a good hitter, which neutralizes the overall attack.

The 5-1 Offense

The 5-1 offense is the most commonly used offense in the game. This is a combination of the 6-2 offense (which we discuss later) and the 4-2 offense. Most teams desire two setters who are great at setting and hitting, but it can be difficult for teams to adjust to the rhythm of those setters over three rotations, so having one setter in a 5-1 formation allows for a volleyball team to play as a cohesive unit. In a 5-1, the setter sets from the the right position to keep a middle hitter in a team’s offense. This system provides an advantage to teams by keeping three attackers in the front row more often, and players are able to specialize in specific job titles on the court. Additionally, teams using a 5-1 can employ a variety of different patterns to use within the offense.

The 5-1 has its drawbacks though. Teams using a 5-1 will only have two attackers, and if a setter is short, it puts their team at a blocking disadvantage in this set. Additionally, this set could be compromised if one setter gets hurt.

The 6-2 Offense

The 6-2 offense is an offense that most teams desire to have, providing a team with three hitters and two blockers in their set. It’s a symmetrical formation that gives a team two setters in the formation, one in the front row and one in the back row. This is different from a 4-2 formation where an active setter is on the front row. This formation takes pressure off of your outside hitters, giving your spikers a one-on-one matchup. You can run many plays for your middle hitter in the 6-2 as well, confusing your opposition. The Cuban National Team and a few other college teams are the only teams to use the 6-2 formation on a regular basis.

The 6-0 Offense

The 6-0 formation can be a fun formation, and a good learning tool as well. A 6-0 offense contains six attackers and, unlike the 6-2 offense, you use zero subs. Your taller players who never get to play on the back row or even set, will get to find out what it’s like to scramble for a badly-bumped pass. It’s a great lesson for your team - all your athletes will see what happens when you don’t make good passes in this offense. Teams who may not have unity, or disrespect the setter, will instantly feel empathy in this offense as balls fly everywhere.

Another key difference between a 6-2 and a 6-0 is that in a 6-2, when a setter goes into the front row, instead of becoming a hitter, a new hitter comes in.

Three Middles Offense

If your team does not have a lot of height, or a very strong group of middles, you might be inclined to run the three middle offense. This offense consists of a setter, three middles, and two outside / right side hitters. The first middle hits whenever they are in the front row, while the second middle hits right for the first rotation and the middle for the next two. The third middle hits right for the first rotation, middle for the second rotation, and outside for the third rotation.

This type of offense can confuse your opponents, but can also confuse your team as well. If this is an offense that might fit your team, we recommend running it over and over again in practice, and teaching your middles via Krossover game breakdowns how they can run this type of offense in a proper fashion.

Want more insight on volleyball sets? Tweet at us with the hashtag #vballoffense to let us know what kind of offensive formation is your favorite to run.

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