Volleyball has a pretty basic plan to win the game. All you need is to get the ball over the net to the other side in three hits or less. It was natural to develop a strategy that allowed for the smooth progression of the bump, set, spike.
The very first team formation was the “4-2”. The 4-2, regarded as the first true offense, is a team with four hitters and two setters. The setters always play in positions opposite of each other. This way, one setter will always be in the front row to set two hitters. The other setter in the back row is a passer and also a backup setter in case the return serve is not close to the front row.
The 4-2, one of the most basic formations, is often used at the lower levels and most effective if a team does not have a good arsenal of hitters. The line-up is basic: 2 setters and 4 hitters. Unlike the 6-2, where there are also two setters, but the setter comes from the back row, in the 4-2 the setter sets in the front row and passes while in the back row.
In an effort to have the most hitters/blockers on the front row at the same time, the “6-2” was developed. The two setters fill the positions of both hitters and setters. In fact, two people can cover the back court well. After the serve, the setter in the back court moves to the front row to set and the setter in the front row moves to the right to be the right side hitter. Hence, you have three hitters/blockers in the front row at any time.
The 6-2 gives a team the most offense power in most cases since a team can have three hitters/blockers in the front row at all times. The line-up is basic: 2 setters and 6 hitters, the setters are hitters as well. The setter in the back row is always the setter in any rotation. The 6-2 formation give the most offense strategy as well making it harder to defense a team who uses it.
The “5-1” is kind of like the “6-2” except you have too many hitters and only one good setter. Basically, when the setter is in the front row, you play the ball as if you are playing a “4-2”. When the setter is in the back, you play it like a “6-2”. The great advantage to the “5-1” is that the hitters become very accustomed to the setting styles of the setter. The disadvantage, the setter has to be in great shape or a very good player and you don’t always have three hitters/blockers in the front row.
The 5-1 is perhaps the most complicated formation in volleyball to run. However, used correctly it can be a very effective formation which can cause confusion for your opponents. The line-up is basic: 1 setter and 5 hitters. Unlike the 6-2, where there are two setters who alternate between setting and hitting, in the 5-1, the single setter must be fast, accurate and in good shape. Also, because of the unique role of being a front row setter, it helps if the setter can jump over the net for blocking and dinking. A setter, attacking or dumping the ball on the second hit will ruin even the best defense’s day.