Considerations For Running a 6-2 With Subs

At Gold Medal Squared we believe that volleyball coaches should build their systems around the abilities of their players.  That’s a liberating principle that allows coaches flexibility.  In order to build systems around the abilities of players, coaches need to gather information.  They need to learn about their teams through statistics and data.

Clearly the most common offensive system is the 5-1.  This system involves one setter, one right side hitter, two outside hitters, two middles and a libero.  However, we are seeing more and more teams moving towards the “6-2 with subs” system.  What does this mean?  A 6-2 with subs is very similar to a standard 6-2.  However, rather than setters hitting in the front row, they are subbed out for a right side hitter.  This system involves two setters, two right side hitters, two middles, two outside hitters, and a libero.  Below are some ideas to consider if you are interested in running a 6-2 with subs.

Setters:  Any time you are considering a 6-2, you need to get some setter by hitter numbers in practice (hitting efficiencies).  You also need to know sideout numbers by setter.  The easiest way to do this is to run the wash table drill over several days.  Keep in mind that when you are measuring your setters on any given day, you must keep everyone else involved consistent (relative to athlete mixing/teams).  Both setters need to have an equal opportunity to play with the same teams/athletes.

If you end up having two setters who are reasonably close in ability, a 6-2 can be considered.  If one setter is significantly better than the other setter, you may want to stick with the 5-1. You CAN’T make these decisions without taking stats in practice.

Blocking:  One of the most appealing aspects of a 6-2 with subs is blocking.  Coaches can sub in a right side attacker for a smaller setter in the front row.  The idea of having a bigger blocker matched up with your opponents left side attackers is appealing.  However, we also know that blocking is the least correlated skill to winning.  So, if you have a great slide hitter who can score you points, that would probably outweigh the gains you would get blocking in a 6-2.

Subs:  For me this is a big one.  We have three really good defensive specialists in our gym.  They create a lot of opportunities for us to score points in transition.  Digging is more important than blocking.  That being said, a 6-2 with subs makes it virtually impossible to sub in defensive specialists for a player that isn’t as talented in the back row (you run out of subs).  Something to consider.

Hitting the Slide:  The slide can be a really effective play if you have a good middle.  Running a 6-2 with subs will eliminate the traditional 5-1 rotations where your middles can hit a slide.  However, In rotation 1 (and 4) and rotation 3 (and 6) it is very easy to run slides from basic serve receive formations. What must happen is the right side hitters in these two (four) rotations must come into the middle of the court to hit a second step set (maybe even a quick if they have those abilities). With three hitters in the front row you can still run slides and several other double quick options.  We don’t want an overly complex offense, so keep that in mind.  Simple is always better than complex.

Determining which system is best for your team will require well organized practices.  Remember, the human eye isn’t capable of making these decisions alone.  You need data to help you.  Running some well organized experiments in practice just may give you the answers you’ve been looking for.  Good luck!

Mike Wall – Gold Medal Squared