Volleyball is an action-packed indoor sport that comprises six players each for two teams. The game requires players to move around all the time, producing stunningly acrobatic moves, serving, defending, spiking, blocking, and passing on the ball rapidly around the dividing net. The quick action sometimes boggles even the match referees in identifying which player’s serving or who’s being substituted during the play.
Also, there must be a full-time defender in all sports, including the Volleyball to relieve offensive and defensive flanks of their ball passing responsibilities during the play. To serve this purpose, a specialist ball passer called a “libero” is allowed and included in every six-member volleyball team. Liberos wear jerseys of contrasting colors from their other team members to get identified easily by the judges and spectators. According to FIVB regulations, wearing stand-out color is an obligation for a libero on every team.
Who is Libero in Volleyball?
The literal meaning of the Italian word “Libero” is the one who is free to move around anywhere. In volleyball, liberos are freer to move around on the court but are obliged by several laws devised by International Volleyball Federation (FIVB). In theory, they are specialist defensive players in the volleyball team who must wear contrasting jerseys from their team members to easily get identified by referees and spectators as well. For example, when the USA women’s volleyball team in Tokyo Olympics 2020 wore light-colored jerseys, their libero wore red or dark blue to get identified easily during the game. Similarly, if the other team members wear navy blue jerseys, their libero players must dress in light colors.
Libero is a specialist defensive player who guards against the attack and assists in making offensive moves on opponents. Liberos are the busiest players in high-intensity volleyball matches which is why every team is allowed to have a substitute libero that can be switched throughout the game without any swap limit.
Rules for Libero Players
The “libero” position was officialized in 1998 by the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB) to bring more action and organization into the game. Between the service and the end of the play, the number of times a regular player can be substituted is limited. However, because of the game intensity, it becomes difficult for players to continue the action for longer laps. To facilitate players, FIVB included “libero” in the rule book which is defined as “the introduction of a specialist defensive player – the Libero – has moved the game forward in terms of rally length and multi-phase play”.
Liberos are defensive specialists, more specifically as the passers in the game. There are two liberos allowed for every team, where both can alternate during the game with no limitations on substitution. Moreover, the FIVB rules clearly indicate that libero players are not allowed to perform serving, blocking, spiking, or any other attacking move when the ball is higher than the top of the net. Liberos are generally placed strategically to the center or behind the offensive line. They must have to fidget around the court to cover key areas where the attack is imminent. The primary objective of a libero is to neutralize the offensive and provide offensive opportunities to fellow players by placing the volleyball in the right spots before launching the ball to the other side of the net.
Liberos form an integral part of a women’s volleyball team for their assistance to the team in assembling organized offensive shots throughout the game. In women’s as well as men’s volleyball teams, liberos are always dressed in contrasting colors from the rest of their teammates. In conclusion, Liberos in volleyball are somewhat like the goalkeepers in hockey and football. They are defense specialists, wear contrasting colored jerseys, and can be swapped and substituted multiple times during the play.