What is the hardest position in volleyball? [Top 3 rating]

What is the hardest position in volleyball? Volleyball is an amazing game where the exquisite skills of individual players exist together with strategic thinking, lightning-fast reflexes, and the team working together like a well-oiled machine.

what is the hardest position in volleyball
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I’m sure that you’ll agree with that (you are reading this article, and that means you love the game). Each player’s role is crucial to the team’s success because a team is a single organism.

But how about the complexity of each role? Which position is the hardest?

First and foremost, this is going to be subjective. Difficulty is a subjective category. And I will express my opinion. At the same time, my humble opinion is shared with a lot of professional players and coaches, so it is trustworthy enough. 

I use 4 criteria to evaluate the complexity of the role of the volleyball player. 

Let’s explore the results of my research that have manifested in a trio of the hardest positions in volleyball, ranked from the most difficult and demanding. 

Hardest volleyball positions: criteria

As I’ve already said, each role demands unique skills and attributes. Still, it’s possible to assess volleyball positions on the scale of complexity.

Technical prowess

The level of technical skill required for a volleyball position is vital. Volleyball positions like setter demand impeccable ball control and precise placement.

Middle blockers play a large role in both offensive and defensive plays.

I saw many times how the skill to close blocks and launch quick attacks influences the team’s success.

Strategic importance

Assessing the impact of the position on the team’s overall strategy is paramount.

A middle blocker, for instance, plays a pivotal role in both offensive and defensive plays.

Their ability to attack swiftly and effectively can make or break the game.

I had an amazing blocker on my team.

Physical act and constant communication

Volleyball is extremely physically demanding, and certain positions require exceptional athleticism. The outside hitter, constantly jumping and spiking is a good example of physical duress.

Besides, a volleyball position demanding non-stop communication, like the setter, who is the organizer of offensive plays, adds another layer of complexity.

Unique and insightful perspectives

The ability to provide unique and insightful perspectives on the game is another important aspect.

The defensive specialist, for instance, operates in awkward positions to ensure the opposition pass is disrupted. This perspective makes the position more difficult from my experience.

International-level tournament performance

Performance at the highest level often proves the position’s difficulty. When I assess the challenges that the players face in international tournaments, I can see which positions can be called hard.

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Setter – the hardest position in volleyball

I’ll be honest with you, the result of my research has only proved my initial point of view.

A setter is a volleyball quarterback. And their role is much bigger than delivering the ball to hitters.

Let’s look closer at the setter position and find out why it faces the hardest of volleyball’s technical and strategic challenges.

#1. Precision in every touch

Precision is the setter’s responsibility. Setters must deliver accurate and well-timed sets to their hitters. This demands an exquisite sense of spatial awareness and an ability to adapt to the dynamic flow of the game momentarily.

The setter really dictates the pace and trajectory of the play.

If the previous point was lost, they must immediately recover and continue.

#2. Constant communication

The setter is the center of communication on the court. They coordinate with teammates, read the opposition’s defense, and make split-second decisions.

I am positive that the position requires not only technical prowess but also a strategic mind that can analyze the game in real time and adjust the strategy.  

#3. Shaping the entire offense

The setter is in charge of the team’s entire offensive game plan.

The technical difficulty is immense. Setters organize quick sets and deceptive plays alike against each particular defensive configuration.

Setters use the strengths of their hitters and exploit the weaknesses of the opposing team at the same time.

This multitasking is not easy at all. So many difficult skills must be mastered to perfection. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s extremely demanding and requires a very high level of internal discipline. 

#4. International level demands

On the international stage, the setter’s position is also the hardest from what I have witnessed. In tournaments with fierce competition and no place for error, setters must meet the highest standards.

The demands of international play are another proof of how exceptional the setter’s skills must be.

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Outside hitter – #2 among the hardest volleyball position

#2 in my rating of the hardest positions in volleyball belongs to outside hitters.

Outside hitters including opposite hitters (hitters on the right side) must balance explosive attacks with agile defensive maneuvers. So many difficult skills to perfect.

Let’s look at the challenges that the hitter faces.

#1. Relentless offense

The main outside/opposite hitter responsibility is the pursuit of the offense.

From their position on the side of the court, these players must deliver spikes and well-placed shots that can break through the opposition’s defense.

The physical demand of constant jumping and powerful hitting is extremely high for an opposite hitter.

In my opinion, outside hitters stay in the vanguard of the offensive play.

#2. Defensive agility

Outside hitters must possess the exceptional skills of defensive specialists.

They must quickly react to incoming attacks and make sure the opposition pass doesn’t succeed.

They maintain an unbreakable defense. This demand for offensive and defensive skills adds to the complexity of the position.

#3. Impossible angles

I often see how hitters attack from virtually impossible angles and awkward positions; they contort their bodies mid-air to break through the opponent’s block.

This requires exceptional physical fitness and agility.

The outside hitter (and an opposite hitter) must be a master of precision and confidence under pressure.

The ability to execute flawless attacks in critical situations is paramount.

#4. International level challenge

In an international level tournament, the position of an outside hitter (and an opposite hitter) presents even more technical difficulty.

Hitters must demonstrate their skills against the best in the world.

I believe the pressure of performing on the global stage is bearable only for the best.

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Middle blocker is the third hardest position

The 3d place in my rating is taken by the middle blocker position.

These players’ position is at the net where they shape the offense and thwart the opponent’s attacks.

Let me walk you through the unique challenges of the middle blockers, and you will see why this volleyball position holds the honorable third place among the most demanding roles in volleyball.

#1. Dual responsibilities at the net

The middle blocker position is in the vanguard of the team’s defense.

Their task is to form an impenetrable wall at the net.

This requires impeccable timing and the ability to read the opponent’s plays and anticipate their attacks by countering them with well-timed blocks.

The middle blocker also plays a crucial role in the team’s offense.

They launch quick attacks to exploit gaps in the opponent’s defense.

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#2. Quick reflexes and agility

Every middle blocker I know has excellent reflexes and exceptional agility.

They jump very quickly to block incoming attacks and immediately change their tactics into offensive plays.

That demands a formidable level of athleticism.

The ability to cover the net with speed and precision is an extremely difficult physical act and a valuable skill.

Besides, the middle blocker must be able to read the opponent’s hitters and adjust offensive strategies momentarily.

#3. Shaping the team’s offense

As I already mentioned, the middle blocker plays a large role in the offensive strategy.

Quick attacks through the middle, often referred to as “quick sets,” require precise coordination with the setter and demand a split-second reaction.

This dual responsibility makes this position very hard.

The recuperation time after losing a previous point is minimal.

#4. Essential team communication

Communication is key in volleyball, and the middle blocker is at the heart of it.

They constantly coordinate with teammates, give feedback to the setter, and alert the team to the opponent’s potential moves and particular defensive configuration.

The middle blocker’s ability to communicate effectively is one of many skills that are critical for the team’s overall cohesion on the court.

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In conclusion

As you see from my research and analysis, my rating of the hardest positions in volleyball goes as follows:

#1 – Setter

#2 – Outside hitter

#3 – Middle blocker.

I would like to underscore that each position holds a set of unique skills that are required for success on the court.

Setters must master surgical precision, excellent communication skills, and strategic thinking. This position is, in my view, more demanding than any other position both in terms of technical skills and mental challenges. 

Outside hitters need to combine offensive prowess and defensive agility. They have to navigate virtually impossible angles and stay confident in crucial moments.

Middle blockers also balance dual responsibilities. They must have rapid reflexes, excellent blocking skills, and the ability to shape not only the entire offense but defensive plays as well.

Ultimately, the difficulty of this or that position is not important. As well as there is no easiest volleyball position.

Let’s just say, they are all extremely hard. What is important is that the synergy of these positions plays a vital role in the team’s success.

The exceptional and hard-earned skills of the players are one of the main reasons why volleyball has been and will remain one of the most exciting sports in the world.  


Is it hard to be a libero?

Yes, a libero position is challenging due to the constant need for defensive finesse, quick reflexes, and precise passing.

Besides superb physical fitness, the libero position requires excellent communication skills from the player and complete confidence.

Unfortunately, it’s also the lowest-paid position.

Why is it the lowest-paid position?

That seems really unfair.

What is the hardest skill to learn in volleyball?

The hardest skill to learn in volleyball varies for individuals, but many consider precise setting to be particularly challenging due to its technical demands.

Why is being a setter hard?

Being a setter is probably more challenging than any other position because it requires many skills like precise ball control, non-stop communication, complete confidence, and the ability to manage the entire offensive strategy.

What is a weak side hitter in volleyball?

A weak-side hitter in volleyball typically refers to the outside hitter who plays on the side opposite the setter. They often attack from the right side of the court.

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