The libero position in volleyball is a relatively new one. It was first introduced to the game internationally in 1998, and is a position that is all about defense. Even though the libero position doesn’t have much history in the game, it is a position that has changed the whole dynamic of volleyball since its introduction.
Playing as a libero can certainly be a tough proposition. In our opinion it is no doubt the most taxing position on the mind – similar to how a lot rests on the quarterback position in football, and if the player in that position has a bad day there is no hiding.
There are 5 reasons for this.
Nowhere to Hide
The libero is required to wear a different colored jersey to the rest of his/her teammates, so when a mistake is made it is all too obvious who committed it.
Inability to Make Up for Mistakes
If another player makes a mistake, such as missing a serve, hitting the volleyball out of bounds etc. they can make up for these mistakes with a great block, kill or assist. Liberos, on the other hand, are only able to make up for their mistake in just a single way – by not making another one, as the player in this position needs to dig and pass well 100% of the time.
As you might expect, after a mistake has been made the pressure to not make another one often weighs on the mind and inevitably leads to more and more mistakes. Liberos can easily get into a negative state of mind with this self-fulfilling prophecy.
Many coaches when choosing players for their team first focus on the hitters and setters, and once this is done they get to which players should play libero. As a libero needs exceptional ball handling skills to be able to pass and dig well, it can often be tough to decide who plays as a libero as a coach analyses all the variables.
This leads to rotation of the position, particularly as the designated libero must remain in that position for the entire match. In other words, a coach is unable to sub in another player to play as a libero until the next game.
This can be tough for the libero to handle. Even though the player may think they played a great game, and perhaps they really did, they may feel that the coach doesn’t believe too much in their ability when they aren’t selected for the next game.
Game Reading Ability
A libero has to process a lot of information in such a short space of time. In just a fraction of a second the player has to decide whether the ball should be set, bumped or hit, depending of course on whether the player finds themselves in the front court or back court. For this reason, a libero must also have an excellent ability to read the game.
Even though a libero makes a huge difference in the overall success of their team, it is a position that doesn’t particularly get too much glory. A libero isn’t responsible for scoring; instead, more so than any other player a libero will find themselves hitting the ground again and again to save the ball from being grounded and not hitting that winning point.
It can sometimes be hard mentally for players to feel that are being underappreciated, particularly as the biggest cheers are heard when a player scores to end the point.