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Volleyball Offense Systems are created by the coach to personalize and fine-tune their teams' offense based on the individual skills of the players on the team in an effort to make the team as competitive as possible.

Different volleyball offense formations are used allowing the team to attack their opponent in a variety of ways. A team on offense will attempt to win a point on an attack by confusing the opposing blockers and disguising the setter’s intended receiver as best as possible.

The main goal is to score a point and running a successful offense. This is different for every team. Different teams will use different offensive systems in ways that suit the team best.

Volleyball offense is an attempt to score a point by causing the ball to land on the opposing team’s side of the court. This is done mostly by first receiving the ball from the other side in the form of an attack or a serve, setting the ball to an attacker, and then having a player jump and attack the ball.

The goal once the ball is received is to get the ball where it can be hit most effectively.Usually this is done close to the net where an attacker can jump and hit the ball. Based on a team’s skill level, they will be able to run their offense smoothly with a unique arsenal of attacks and formations.


Basic Volleyball Offense

Basic sets are used by teams that do not yet have the experience to run more complicated plays. Using more advanced sets, relative to the team skill level, should be used sparingly so the opposing block is tricked by thinking the set is merely a basic set.

basic volleyball offensive set plays

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Advanced Volleyball Offense

The following more advanced sets that are meant to fool the opposition and get your attacker with 1 blocker or less. At higher levels, teams will use basic sets as a last resort, which usually means the ball was received poorly.

32:     A 32 (pronounced three-two) is a set to the left-front hitter halfway in between the middle of the net and the antenna about the height of a two ball.

Flare:     A flare is when an attacker uses an inside-out path to attack an outside set. A teammate commonly runs a quick fake to trick the opponents, and then the attacker flares out to attack.

Slide:     A slide is a set to any attacker who runs parallel to the net and jumps off of one foot.

Iso:     An isolation play is a play where you use an attacker, usually the middle, as a decoy to leave another attacker with a weaker opposing block.

Tandem:     A tandem is when one attack follows another and hits the ball right after the first one lands, using the first attacker as a decoy.

Double quick:     A double quick is when two attackers take an approach towards the setter so that he or she may set either a 1 or a back 1, which is a 1 set over the shoulder of the setter.

X:     An x is when a middle goes up for a 1 and the right side attacker comes from the other side to hit a 2, making the two paths of the hitters cross.

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In volleyball, teams must have their players in a specific volleyball offense formation. The players then rotate around the court clockwise whenever the team performs a side-out. There is a penalty for being out of rotation and the opposing team receives a point. There are three formations that are widely used in the sport, each having advantages and disadvantages.


This volleyball offense takes its name from the fact that it uses 4 attackers and two setters.

This is a basic formation generally used by less experienced teams to avoid confusion on the court.

At any given time, one of the setters is front row and the other is back row. They are always opposite of each other on the court. This allows for 2 attackers front row at any given time, and the setter is able to dump the ball.

This basic offensive formation allows for any of the basic sets to be run, as well as a 32, shoot, or possibly a tandem. Teams that use a 4-2 will rarely set anything other than the basic sets.

The positive aspects of the 4-2 include its simplicity, so a team can gain experience and later move on to a more complicated formation.

The negative aspect of using a 4-2 is its limits regarding your offense. Some think that having two setters takes away from your team as the setter is generally the team leader. Some coaches opt to start their team out running a more complicated system and just having the players adopt it.


A 5-1 takes its name from using 1 setter and having 5 attackers on the court.

The secondary setter is replaced by an opposite hitter who is always opposite the setter on the court. This formation allows the setter to be able to dump the ball for half the rotations and have 3 front row attackers to set the ball to on the other three rotations.

This volleyball offense system allows the setter to set any possible set he or she wants to depending on whether he or she is front row or back row.

Many coaches prefer this system, having one setter as the team leader. It also helps having only one setter so that the setting does not change. One setter may set the ball differently than another giving a different feel for the attackers. It helps when the attackers are used to one setter in particular.

The negative points of this volleyball offense are that the setter needs to transition from defense to set the ball. This creates situations where the setter has the first contact and someone else has to set the ball...


A 6-2 is similar to a 4-2, but has 6 attackers and 2 setters. This is possible by having the back row setter always set the ball.Making the setter only a hitter when he or she is front row.

This volleyball offense formation allows any possible set to be made not including a dump by the setter because he or she is always back row when setting the ball.

This formation is good for a team in which the setters are also very good attackers where the coach does not want to waste that talent. Some young teams also use it so that the player can increase a broad range of skills and not be sentenced to being a setter for his or her career.

Unfortunately, this formation has the problems of 5-1 and 4-2. Having two setters and always having one of them be back row. The setter always has to transition from defense and the leadership is lacking. Most teams at the highest level, including the USA Olympic team use the 5-1 rather than this for leadership purposes.

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