Switching Tutorial UK
Normal Positions
Receiving an Attack
Receiving Service
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Why do we 'switch' in volleyball?

When you played volleyball in school you probably played with 3 people in a line in the front and 3 in the back.On change of service you rotated clockwise but stayed where you were rotated to. There are several disadvantages with this system:

  • There are large areas of the court where the ball naturally goes that are not covered
  • There is often confusion about whose ball it is because you are all in a line - especially with short balls between 2 players
  • As you rotated, the kind of balls you received differed depending where you were, it seemed better if you could 'specialise" to one side of the court so you were used to it
  • Similarly, setters are specialists, and you are always trying to dig or volley the first ball to them - it is best if you are always trying to dig/volley to the same place (normally front right of the court)
  • Back court players cannot smash unless they take off behind the attack line (the line in the middle of court), which means that if the first ball went to the setter at the front court, you only effectively have 2 players who can whack it over the net. The system of switching means that both setters are always on the right side of the court, so that the backcourt setter can come forward and set to 3 front court players (see attacking)

To continue the discussion, we need to know a bit about the nomenclature of positions :


There are 6 positions on the court - named 1 to 6. 1 is the server and the rest are numbered sequentially round the court anticlockwise. The number refers to position on court, not the player.

Positions 2,3 & 4 are front court players, 5,6 & 1 backcourt: to reiterate, only front court players can smash at the net.

The right side of the court (1 & 2) is usually where the setters try to end up: position 2 is the 'front court setter' and 1 the 'backcourt setter'. 3 & 6 are 'middle' players and 4 & 5 'outside' players