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Volleyball/Number of serve receivers....and what does everyone else do?


We play with 6 players, 3 male, 3 female, B level. Some are very good players and quick, others are not so quick.  Local teams insist that they want only 2 dedicted receivers in the back row, plus a third to play almost exactly in the middle of the court to recieve short serves just behind the setter. Is this a good line up?  Back row player each must cover 15 feet each.  I observe many bad passes due to the middle person trying to handle a serve at sholder level and back row scrambling when it goes over the middle person's head. 3 Front row players are doing nothing. It seems with 6 players we should have 3-4 receivers and front row should be available for the rare short serve.  Any thoughts?

Good morning Steve!
Welcome to!

While it isn't unusual to serve receive with only 2 people, the rest of what you're telling me very unusual.  This formation sounds like something I would have dreamed up in my first year of coaching.  

My team plays some very strong opponents from all over the country (tomorrow, we play teams from Fl, Nebraska & NC).  We would never see this serve receive formation.

A few thoughts:
* You can serve receive with 2 or 3 or 4; but, passers should NEVER be in each other's line of sign.
* Many coaches want NO ONE directly in front or behind a serve receiver.  Why?  B/c either that's going to create problems, or there's a person who's accomplishing nothing.  
* On my team one of my MB's is very good serve receiver.  So, she is in our serve receive formations even when she's a front row player.  I understand on your adult team, the captain/coach wants everyone to have an equal number of touches.  Been there, done that.  But, it's not the optimum way of playing ANY game.  Is there any game, even in a rec/adult/giggle league where anyone touches equally?  
* Yes, all other people who aren't primary receivers should be helping.  We say that helpers will probably pass 5% of the serves....they are either balls in the deep corners, balls that touch the net and roll over, etc.  About once a tournament, our setter has to take the first ball.  

Does this help?  
I have some serve receive formations that I will email to anyone who's interested. They are typical 6-2 serve receive formations that most teams use (assuming their receiving with the two OH's and their libero).  Just email me at

Hope it's a great day!
And I hope you have a moment to visit me at  Ten summer camps have been scheduled now in CA, OK, NC and Virginia.  There's a reason STAR Volleyball Site camps actually grew during the recession.  If you visit our website, I think you'll see why.  
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Tom Houser


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