Rotation Formations & Overlap Rules

Rotation 1 Analysis

Rotation 1

Rotation 1 allows for more variability than any other rotation in Serve-Recieve. Many teams start matches and sets in Rotation 1 (or Rotation 6 if they’re receiving serve), which adds a little bit of importance to siding out successfully in Rotation 1.

It’s important to know what you want your individual players doing in this rotation. But even more importantly, you should know WHY you’re running the offensive formation you are. It’s equally important to know if you are running the best Rotation 1 offense for your personnel, or if you might be more successful using another formation option.

Rotation 1 - Player Positioning

First things first, let’s take a look at where the six players are in Rotation 1.

Bold & Underlined Text = Front Row Players

In a traditional 5-1 offense, there is 1 setter, 2 outside hitters, 2 middle blockers, an opposite, and a libero. Here are the descriptions of each player position:

S:

Setter.

H1:

Outside Hitter 1. The H1 is the outside hitter closest to the setter. Typically, this should be the best outside hitter on the team because she will generally have more hitting opportunities than any other player.

M2:

Middle Blocker 2. The M2 is the middle blocker two spots away from the setter.

OP:

Opposite. The Opposite is a right side attacker lined up directly opposite of the setter.

H2:

Outside Hitter 2. The H2 is the outside hitter two spots away from the setter.

M1:

Middle Blocker 1. The M1 is the middle blocker one spot away from the setter. Usually the M1 will be the better offensive middle attacker because she will have more hitting opportunities than the M2. The M1 should also be a better slide hitter because she will have more opportunities to hit slides.

L:

Libero. The Libero plays replaces the back row Middle Blocker.

In Rotation 1, the setter is in Zone 1, followed by the H1, M2, Opposite, H2, and finally the M1 (the M1 is replaced by the libero).

In Serve-Receive, there are three common formations teams can line up in to prepare to pass and play offense. There are no right or wrong options here. The right thing to do is choose the best formation that allows your players to be most successful, and your team to side-out at the highest possible percentage.

ROTATION 1 – Traditional Serve-Receive Option

Volleyball Rotation 1 Serve-Receive Traditional Option GMS

Player Assignments by Position:

S: Starts in Zone 1 behind the H1

H1: Passes in Zone 1 and hits Reds

M2: Starts in Zone 3/4 and hits Quicks/Gaps

OP: Starts in Zone 4 and hits Gos

H2: Passes in Zone 5

L: Passes in Zone 6

Advantages/Benefits:

  • Many teams have three primary passers — Both outside hitters and the libero. This formation allows for those three players to pass in Serve-Recieve.
  • This allows the Libero to pass in Zone 6. If your libero is your best passer, this is where you want her passing from as often as possible.
  • This is a simple, straightforward offensive alignment. Go, Quick, Red. There mostly won’t be any traffic for your front row players to worry about as they take their offensive approaches.

Disadvantages/Drawbacks:

  • This is the only time that the H1 hits from the right side, and the only time that the Opposite hits from the left side. If these two attackers aren’t comfortable or effective hitting from these locations, your team might struggle more than usual in this rotation.
  • If the H1 is the best left side attacker on your team (she should be), having her attack from anywhere else might be problematic. However, she might also be the best right side attacker on your team. In which case, this formation might be problematic if your setter can’t set Reds as well as she can set Gos.
  • For setters, starting deep in the court requires more them to cover more distance than in any other rotation.

Important Overlap Rules Considerations:

  • The Setter must be behind the H1.
  • The M2 must be to the right of the Opposite.
Rotation 1 with the OH1 Passing in Zone 1 and hitting a Red.

ROTATION 1 - Stack Serve-Receive Option

Volleyball Rotation 1 Serve-Receive Stack Option GMS

Player Assignments by Position:

S: Starts in Zone 1 behind the Libero

H1: Passes in Zone 5 and hits Gos

M2: Starts in Zone 4 and hits Quicks or Slides

OP: Starts in Zone 4 and hits 2s or Slides (whatever the M2 isn’t running)

H2: Passes in Zone 6

L: Passes in Zone 1

Advantages/Benefits:

  • Your best outside hitter will be hitting Gos in this formation, which may be better than her hitting Reds.
  • If your M2 or your Opposite is a good slide hitter, this formation could be tougher to defend that the traditional option because there is more movement for opposing blockers to be aware of.
  • This formation gives you some different offensive options, which could be not only an effective addition to your offense, but a fun tweak for your players.

Disadvantages/Drawbacks:

  • With all the front row hitters starting on the left side of the court, things might get crowded and chaotic once the opposing server serves the ball.
  • A bad pass leaves you with very little options. On a bad pass, it will be nearly impossible to utilize the M2 or the Opposite.
  • Your setter moving back to front will be crossing paths with some of the front row players as they move left to right.
  • If you like your libero to take the majority of balls in Serve Recieve, you might not want to move your libero outside of the middle of the court.

Important Overlap Rules Considerations:

  • The Setter must remain behind the H1, even though they’re across the court from each other.
  • The M2 must be to the left of the passing H1.
  • The Opposite must be to the left of the M2.
Rotation 1 with the OH1 Passing in Zone 5 and hitting a Go. The MB2 is hitting a slide. The Opposite is hitting a middle attack.

ROTATION 1 - Setter Up Serve-Receive Option

Volleyball Rotation 1 Serve-Receive Setterup Option GMS

Player Assignments by Position:

S: Starts in Zone 2 behind the H1

H1: Doesn’t pass and Reds.

M2: Starts in Zone 3/4  and hits Quicks or Slides

OP: Passes in Zone 5 and hits Gos

H2: Passes in Zone 6

L: Passes in Zone 1

Advantages/Benefits:

  • If your Opposite is a better passer than your H1, this would be beneficial. (Depending on your level, the quality of your passers and the quality of the opposing server(s), you might be able to have the H2 and Libero cover most of the court in Serve Recieve, allowing your H1 and Opposite to focus mostly on attacking.)
  • The setter doesn’t have to travel far to get to the setting target.
  • The H1 can move immediately into her attacking approach without worrying about passing.

Disadvantages/Drawbacks:

  • The opposite now is passing and hitting Gos, two things that she might not regularly be doing.

Important Overlap Rules Considerations:

  • The passing opposite must be infront of the H2.
  • The M2 must be to the right of the passing Opposite.
  • The Setter can move up towards the net, but must remain behind the H1.
Rotation 1 with the OH1 not passing. She is hitting a red. The MB2 is hitting a quick attack. The Opposite is passing in Zone 5 and hitting a Go.

To switch or not to switch?

Oftentimes in lower levels of the game (and sometimes even in higher levels) the H1 and the Opposite will switch with each other during the rally after the ball is attacked. For example, in a traditional formation, the H1 will hit a red, and then immediately run to the left side of the court while the Opposite runs to the right side of the court to set up in base defense. There might be a few reasons for doing this: You want your Opposite blocking in transition defense on the right side, so you switch. And/Or, in transition offense later in the rally, you want your H1 hitting from the left side, so you switch. However, switching takes time and is sometimes confusing for players that don’t know if they should switch, or forget to switch, If your team is better with your H1 on the left and your Opposite on the right, you may consider running a stack serve-receive. Doing this will mean you won’t have to switch.

Earlier Posts in this Series

Later Posts in this Series

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5 comments on Rotation Formations & Overlap Rules

  1. Rotation 1 is not the problem. The problem is when the coach sits down and figures out his/her first rotation on the court then its the 5th rotation that is created from the initial rotation created by the coach. For example lets say after preseason is over and the coach thinks about his best lineup and starts them in that order. Then you rotate five times and that is the death rotation. Can you figure out why? Thats the rotation that destroys every high school coach at the State Championships

    1. Gold Medal Squared says:

      Thanks Sidney. We’re doing these breakdowns for all six rotations. Every team will struggle at times in certain rotations. Oftentimes we can make adjustments (or play differently) in those rotations to help us be more successful. Be sure to check out our posts on each rotation.

  2. Vincenzo De Luca says:

    Very interesting. I hope to see the other rotations too

  3. coach K says:

    My Setters are my best hitters….Is it beneficial to have them as my H1s too?

    1. Gold Medal Squared says:

      If you want your setters to be a hitters also, you’d need to run a 6-2 offense (without subs). Here is a post we’ve written about a 6-2 offense. https://www.goldmedalsquared.com/blog/6-2-with-subs/ Be on the lookout in the near future for an updated 6-2 explanation along with images and a video. Thanks!

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