sprinterkt22 (sprinterkt22) wrote in pass_set_attack,

Hey! I'm  a first time poster, but I was just wondering if anyone had any tips on being libero/ds, on anything. thanks ahead of time :)
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Well, let's see now... When I think of a libero, I think of someone with an undying attitude to dig everything. In my mind, when it comes to digging everything, there's two parts: fearlessness and work-ethic.

To address fearlessness, I recall former Golden Gopher libero Paula Gentil mentioning in an interview once that she wasn't worried about getting hit in the chest (AKA "packed" in the vernacular) or the face (AKA "receiving a facial" in the vernacular ;) by the ball. I think she had the realization that if she was getting packed, that meant she was reading the hit properly and was in nearly the right place to make the dig... Of course, the real right place would be where the ball always is heading for your arms and not your head, but in reality, it's not possible for us mortals to read a hit to that level of detail. Even for good liberos, sometimes all you can do is figure out if a hitter is cutting around the block, or hitting over/through the block, or shooting the ball to a spot... Subsequently, you try to take away a zone and hope for the best... But I digress a little. The bottom line for fearlessness is, a great libero will not be worried so much for their personal comfort (if that's the case, go sit in the stands!). He or she will be more concerned with protecting their side of the court, not their face. :)

Continuing on to work-ethic, arguably working hard is something you should be doing at any position, or any sport, really. For volleyball, I think even if you are a middle hitter, you have no excuse for not learning how to pass and set well. If you are serious about volleyball and helping your team, you'll make the effort to become well rounded enough so that you can function well in any position. I mean, it's always nice to have a setter like Misty May-Treanor, Lindsey Berg, Sam Tortorello, or Bryn Kehoe on your side, but injuries happen... And even if they don't, volleyball is such a spontaneous sport, who knows what skill you'll need on any given play? What if the setter takes the first ball on defense? Someone else has to be able to set, too.

...But let's get back to work-ethic as a libero. How does it come into play? Microcosmically, it means that on every play you're hussling like mad. That shanked pass that went 50 feet off to the side? That's yours! You're sprinting after it like a Patriot Intercepter Missile chasing down a SCUD during Desert Storm. It doesn't matter how unrealistic it seems for that ball to be retrieved. As soon as you think it's impossible and decide not to go after it, it definitely becomes impossible.

On the other hand, if you chase after it, who knows? It might be a one-in-a-million chance that you'll get it, but isn't that a chance worth taking? Think about how inspired you'll make the crowd and your team if you make that kind of save. It'll also get into your opponents' heads. Even if they win the point, it'll be in their head that you're waiting on the other side of the net, capable of digging all kinds of garbage. When you run all over the court and are consistently making great saves, your opponent will be thinking, "Man... What do I need to do to get a kill?" They'll start going out of their way to hit it away from you, or trying to "do something special" to get a kill. A typical volleyball player isn't that adaptable in a game. They have some shots they like, and they are good and consistent at hitting... but if you take those away, all they have left are shots that they aren't as good at making, or they haven't even practiced... That means easier digs or more errors.

(Cont'd in Part 2!)
Macrocosmically, you need a work-ethic that transcends individual points and translates to the big picture of winning matches and what you need to do to make that happen. Since you'll be running around the court like a maniac, you'll need to become conditioned. You'll need to be able to sprint and sprint fast... You'll need to do that for entire matches. Depending on your schedule, you might need to do it all day at a tournament! I know few people who like suicides, but they help develop sprinting endurance. Plyometrics can help with quickness, too. Talk to your coaches about drills that can help you out.

In addition to conditioning, there's all kinds of specific volleyball related stuff to work on perfecting... Receiving service, digging hard driven hits with and without blockers at the net (ever done the "pit drill"? :), practicing overhand digging, and serving (now that liberos can serve, too) are important skills, just to name a few.

Does that answer the questions you had? It shouldn't! There's plenty of stuff you'll need to do to work at becoming a great libero. :)

Thank you soooo much, lots of great info!
what's the "pit drill"?
The pit drill is a defensive drill where you have two players or coaches standing at the net on boxes or chairs so they are over the height of the net. On the other side of the court are three backrow defenders (no blockers). These defenders are in "the pit" and the players/coaches at the net attack them with an array of hits from their elevated perches. :) Note that the point isn't for the players.coaches to terminate the ball, but to teach defense... From up on a chair, you can pretty much bury the ball in front of the 3-meter line every time if you wanted... but that's not the goal. :}

There are probably a lot of variations on how this drill can be executed. In the past, we typically had a time limit on how long the players were in the pit. I think we started with 60-second intervals. However, if none of the defenders made a decent effort to dig a ball, you added to the time where they were in the pit. :) So laziness was punished...

Mostly, the drill is designed to teach fearlessness and ball control when dealing with hard hits... However, there is some reading involved, too (i.e. swing speed, hand/shoulder direction)... but that's the case in almost every defensive drill. :) When I was one of the attackers, I used to like to throw in a tip every now and again to get the defense scrambling. Sometimes I'd get opportunities to tack on extra time because a player would be out of position getting a tip, and then I'd play the next shot into their "base" area. Eventually, the other players would learn to read and back up their temporarily out-of-position teammate. :)

Anyway, this is a great drill and I recommend giving it a shot if your team is having trouble receiving hard driven attacks. I think it could be an especially useful drill if players are typically in position to make a dig, but they can't control it, or are afraid to dig it.

Another good defense drill is called "Coach on 1". This drill was popular in Japan back in the day. Basically you had one defensive player at a time. The rest of the team was responsible for shagging (quickly!) and providing the coach with a constant supply of volleyballs. The coach would be taking the balls and throwing them rapid-fire at the player who was not very far away (maybe 12 feet). It was the players responsibility to dig up everything, no matter how hard it was thrown or even if it wasn't thrown very well. Often if this drill is done right, the defender will get hit with a few hard-thrown balls. It might sound kind of cruel, but on the other hand, no opponent is going to apologize when they spike the ball at 50 mph and it hits you in the face... So I guess it's better to learn fearlessness in a friendly environment. :}