Going to a volleyball match, whether it be a high school or college match, it usually is unavoidable to hear this: How come that player has a different color shirt on? It is interesting for two reasons:
1. The libero position has been around for quite a while now
2. People, even now, don’t understand the game of volleyball
The second reason is my favorite because I like to think that volleyball remains to be in its infancy (in some ways) in the united states. Not one match goes by that I don’t hear someone in the stands asking about the rules of volleyball, and in particular the question regarding the libero.
I often think about my high school playing days, that was now several years ago. 10 years ago nobody really new about club volleyball. I was on a club team, but there were not many other teams to play. You might play tournaments in all different areas but would constantly see the same teams.
So the libero is…
Essentially a defensive specialist that can come in and out for any player on the court without the need for an official substitution. The libero ought to be and usually is the best, and smartest defensive player on your team. They must be able to pass, dig, and read the court better than other people on your team.
Where did this rule come from?
The libero position was added to the game in 1999. Incorporating the libero did a few things: it sped up the sport. Now play didn’t have to stop when middles needed to be subbed out (I’ve not seen many clubs that keep their middles in all game). Also, incorporating the libero position to the game really made defense, offense, and rallies far more exciting.
What exactly can a libero do?
A few rules regarding the libero include: A libero may enter the game at any time for any player on the court. Play must be dead for the libero to enter the court, and must be dead again for the libero to leave the court. The libero may serve for one person on the team. These are few of the many regulations of the libero position.
Believe it or not there are still many purists that think that the libero position shouldn’t have been included (there is also debate on how to pronounce it: Italian way or American way). In my opinion though, adding this position has without a doubt made the game considerably more engaging to watch as well as coach.