Liberos play a very important role on the team. They play only in the back row and are a defensive specialist. Once they get to the ball, they need to pass it so the team can run the offense properly.
Because of the specialized nature of this position, there is a wide range of skills that you will need to acquire. Keep reading to learn the most important things you need to know and some drills to help you sharpen your skills.
1. Keeping Your Eye on the Ball
One of the most basic elements that a Libero needs to master is keeping their eyes on the ball. While it sounds simple, it can be trickier than you imagined, particularly in the context of a busy game. This skill doesn’t rely on your physical abilities. It is all about your ability to stay focused when faced with mental pressures. You need to block everything else out. Click here for Why is Timing so Important When Playing Volleyball
Most training drills will involve this skill set. But, in the context of a competition, it can be very difficult. Often, the only way to develop this is by getting lots of experience playing in a competitive environment.
2. Getting into the Right Position
You don’t just need to monitor the way the ball moves. You also need to be able to think about its trajectory. This will allow you to get into the right position before it lands, so you will be able to hit it. This is one of the most important skills that the libero possesses.
This isn’t just about your ability to run to the ball quickly. It also requires you to put some thought into the situation. Here are some of the things you need to consider:
- Amount of force. This tells you how fast the ball will be coming.
- The direction of travel. Look at the way the ball was hit and how it is moving through the air. To make things harder, some people might put some spin on the ball to make its trajectory more unpredictable.
- Strategy. You will need to consider the tactics that the opposite team might be using and how you can combat them. We’ll discuss how you can do this later.
There are a few drills your coach might use to help you in this area. One of the most common is to throw the ball to your left or right. You need to shuffle and get into position before it hits the ground.
3. Forming the Right Stance
The type of stance you use is vital. It will make it easier for you to get control of the ball. It will also make it easier for you to get more power behind the ball. Here are some of the tips you can use to develop the right stance:
- Have your feet shoulder-length apart.
- Put your thumbs together, forming a flat surface on your forearm.
- Use your shoulders to determine the angle you are hitting the ball at.
As a Libero, it’s a good idea to practice getting into this position quickly. When the ball is coming in you won’t have any time to think about your stance. Because of this, you will need to make sure that it will be engrained in your muscle memory.
4. Learning Defensive Strategies
When coaches assign the Libero position, they aren’t just looking for physical attributes. They will also think about your mental strength. More specifically, you need to have a deep knowledge of the game and the type of things the opposition might try.
You will then need to be able to apply this knowledge to the game. For example, you will need to have some idea of what areas the opposition will try to target. This will allow you to put yourself in these areas, stopping them from making a successful attack.
It will be very hard for a coach to pass this skill on through drills. The best approach is to watch plenty of games and take notes on the types of strategies they are using, and then apply these strategies when you’re practicing.
5. Ability to Dig the Ball
This is one of the most important tools that a Libero will use. This is a defensive move, designed with two purposes. First, you will be trying to stop the ball from touching the ball, keeping your opponents from scoring a point. Secondly, it will be trying to redirect the ball to your teammates, to begin your offense.
There are a few types of digs that you should put into your repertoire, these include:
- Dive. Sometimes, you won’t have enough time to get into position properly. In this case, you will need to dive forwards. These are some of the most difficult digs to execute, but they can prove rewarding when executed properly.
- Sprawl. This type of dig will require you to dive sideways, often landing on your side. To make things even more difficult, you might need to hit the ball while sliding.
6. Staying Calm Under Pressure
Libero can be one of the most stressful positions on the court. You will need to get used to making split-second decisions and not second-guessing yourself. This can often be a difficult thing to do, taking a mental toll on any player. But you don’t want to allow these pressures to force you into making irrational decisions.
Staying calm also helps out your teammates out when they get down. Being a consistently positive and supportive player on the court helps your teammates have a solid foundation that they can rely on.
7. Speed Across the Court
As a defensive specialist, the Libero is charged with getting to the ball before it lands. Even with some insight into where it will land, this can be a difficult task. You will need to work on building your speed.
8. Playing Consistently
As Libero, your teammates will rely on you to pass them the ball. If you can’t perform this role, the whole team will suffer. This is why you need to do a lot of drills. You need to be consistent, getting the pass in pretty much the same place each time. This is critical in setting up the team’s offense play, as the setter can focus on which play to run, rather than running down the bad pass.
9. Acting as a Leader
Your team will also look to you to be a leader on the court. You will be leading the defense, so you want to make sure that your voice is being heard. The Libero has the advantage of spending the most amount of time in the backcourt compared to the rest of the players, so share your expertise with the rest of the team. Click here for How to Build Sports Team Chemistry
You can also have an impact on the offense. Point out any weak spots that you see in the opposition and give some suggestions on areas to target.
10. Passing the Ball
This is the most important skill that a Libero will possess. You will be the one who is responsible for getting the ball to your teammates. This requires passing skills. There are some ways that the coach might seek to develop these skills, this can include:
- Training drills. Whether at home or during group training, doing a drill is the best way to hone your skills.
- Practicing your stance. As we mentioned, this should come so naturally that it becomes part of your muscle memory.
- Watching expert. As you are watching games, look at the way the Libero positions themselves and how they pass the ball. This can inform your own playing style.
While becoming proficient at passing the ball won’t come overnight, it will improve throughout the season. Click here for 7 Best Passing Drills for Beginners
11. Keeping Team Energy High
Lastly, the coach will often be looking at you to maintain team morale. Every time that your team wins a point you should be celebrating. Even in the bad matches, you should be making sure that everyone is having a good time.
The Libero is a specialized, and challenging, position to play. It won’t be for everyone. But if you have the right skill set, it can be a great opportunity. You will be able to play a critical role on the court, helping lead your team to victory.