What Volleyball Position is the Hardest?

Running a website means that Google will occasionally send you an email complaining about an AMP issue. What’s an AMP issue? I have no clue. They will also send you performance statistics and for the most part I’ve never looked at them. But I was bored recently and decided to poke around their performance pages. One interesting thing that jumped out on me were the search queries that get you to my site. The most popular (if I was reading it right) was “what volleyball position is the hardest” or something like that. These search queries will bring up an old article I did on “Toughest Position to Recruit”. Being a little devious today, I decided to write an article that would better match up with the search query. So, yes, if you are reading this and have never been to my site, you’ve been tricked if you entered that search string into Google. Have no fear, however, because I will answer your question quickly and to the point.

Who cares? There, happy?

There are three things in life where you really are not in control of the situation.

  1. Grass. I was at a home improvement store last year around this time and a couple were trying to figure out what type of grass to get for their yard. You know me. I’m nosey. I explained that the amount of sun you get really dictates the type of grass you can grow. After listening to them I explained they needed Saint Augustine. The husband quickly replied that he didn’t like that type of grass. So begins their nightmare.
  2. Wands. We should all know that “the wand chooses the wizard”. You may want the holly wand with the Phoenix feather that is nice and supple but if it doesn’t choose you then it will never be yours.
  3. Volleyball positions.

I mean I’ll talk about the hardest but let’s first agree that a player’s skill and physical dimensions are going to pigeon hole them into one or maybe two positions. So, what is the hardest volleyball positions? The one you have to play.

The two positions that I think are generally considered “by the experts” to be the “hardest” are libero and setter. I think it’s cute that short people have dominated this discussion so much. Don’t get me wrong, both are very difficult but if you haven’t figured out my take as of yet; they are all hard!

My issue with libero is that I think you are immediately trumped in my mind by the 6-rotation outside. Yes, the libero position is the defensive quarterback and you should be put into the most demanding defensive position, but after your college career is over, you’ll be able to pick up a fork. The 6-rotation outside is part of the service receive and the defense as well as having the most swings on offense. The physical toll of the position is just so much harder in my opinion.

Setter is the other position I most often see and I sort of agree here. I’m talking the 5-1 setter that has to play all the way around. They do not have to be in the service receive but you have to add the responsibilities of the offensive quarterback. They are the only position that is virtually guaranteed to touch the ball on every play and the mental aspect of the position is by far the toughest in my opinion. The 5-1 setter also goes against an outside hitter when blocking where the outside will either get a right side or a setter. Let me hold off a bit on my thoughts on these two. Oh, what about the 6-2 setter/right side? I think they get trumped by the 5-1 setter. Mentally the position gets a break for three rotations, but it is a tough one.

As a former middle, I have to make a case for this position and I do think it’s underrated quite a bit. The footwork involved is not easy as well as reading the middle attack but, in the end, due to height discrimination at all levels of the sport, the position is typically taken off the back row. You may not be able to lift a fork when done and you’ll probably need knee or ankle surgery at some point, but it’s not the hardest volleyball position.

Your 3-rotation outside or your 3-rotation right side are pressure packed as you have to put the ball down and often we see our best hitters in these positions but they can’t be the toughest in this context. These are the caveman positions. “See ball; kill ball.” Sure, they have to block but half the time they are on the bench. Same reasoning to a point for the defensive specialists. “See ball; dig ball.” Then go sit on the bench.

Speaking of the bench, I really believe that this is the toughest position. You put the time in and you work as hard as anyone and you are expected to be ready at any instance to come in and fix things that have obviously broken down or the coach would have never looked your way. Plus, you have to stay positive the entire time despite how you may be feeling inside. Then you have to cheer for the players that are preventing you from playing in the first place. After all of that you probably have to then talk to your parents who are wondering why you are not playing and suggesting that you go talk to the coach about it. Yup. Put me down for the bench as the absolute hardest position to play (not play) in volleyball.

As for second place? Give me the 5-1 setter. I just think the mental aspect pushes this above the other playing positions. So, for those scoring at home, here is your definitive ranking:

  1. Bench
  2. 5-1 setter
  3. 6-rotation outside
  4. Libero
  5. 6-2 setter/right side
  6. Middle
  7. (Tie) 3-rotation outside and 3-rotation right side
  8. Defensive specialist

Now. Aren’t you glad you Googled and found me? Go read some other stuff now and bookmark the site. It will save you a search the next time.


5 thoughts on “What Volleyball Position is the Hardest?

  1. I just got my September Google Search report. This article is my second fastest growing page. “Hardest Position” is third in my growing searches that find me. I just think it’s kind of funny but this article is serving its purpose, I guess.


  2. lol thanks this was helpful to throw in my teams face yes i play on of the hardest positions! I’m a 5-1 setter but there is two of us so mostly i’m subbed (Cause i’m shorter) then I’m a Libero too but AGAIN there is two of us and the other Libero is the coaches sibling so yk- So ha! i’m on the bench a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. update on my last comment I got the spot as the starting Libero for the National hopefuls for year eights next year!!! so happy and excited for this! also sorry ik this will say i’m a new person but i’m not just got my new computer (My second one cause the first one i was filming volleyball with and spiked the ball into it and the screen shattered, lol this is why i’m not a spiker my aim is so bad)

    Liked by 1 person

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