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  • Writer's pictureGold Medal Squared

The 6-2 Offensive System in Volleyball With 1 Substitution

One of the exciting attributes of Volleyball is the way it allows for creativity within the game. If every team played volleyball exactly the same way would it still be as entertaining? Being able to see different styles of play on the same court is part of the spectacle of volleyball. As coaches, you will probably go to a competitive level game, and start to check where the strengths and weaknesses of each team are. Who are their biggest offensive outputs? Are they using speed and rhythms or power and athleticism? What you are doing is analyzing the play and identifying the offensive systems that you would run should that be your team, probably without even realizing it.

If every team played with the same system, where would be the fun in that? The ability to mold a team is what makes coaching so dynamic; coaches are always having to identify problems and then find solutions. Coaches also have the ability to adapt well-founded systems to suit their own players. One such adaptation is the 6-2 Offensive System that uses 1 substitution, compared to a system that does not require any substitutions.

What is the “6-2 Offensive System with 1 substitution?”

The 6-2 Offensive System with 1 substitution allows for a coach to give players more specific roles on the court. This system requires the following players:

  • 1 setter/opposite hybrid player

  • 1 back row setter

  • 1 front row opposite

This system gives a coach the opportunity to utilize a player that can be a strong front row attacker while also being a good back row setter.

As shown in the GMS+ Video, this system works by having the setter starting in the backcourt and the hybrid player starting in the frontcourt. The setter plays as a back-row setter whilst the hybrid player plays as a frontcourt opposite. After three rotations, the back-court setter will then rotate into the frontcourt. At this point, the opposite is substituted into the game in place of the setter in the frontcourt. At the same time, the hybrid player goes into the back row and becomes the team's setter for the next three rotations. The substitution will then be reversed after 3 more rotations when the opposite transitions into the backcourt.

Introduction to a 6-2 Offense with 1 Subs

6-2, 1 sub System summary:

  • Teams start off with the primary setter in the back row and the hybrid player in the front row as an attacker.

  • As the original setter rotates to a frontcourt position, she is replaced by an opposite.

  • The hybrid player becomes the new setter in the backcourt.

  • The substitution is reversed when the opposite rotates back around to position 1.

Advantages of the “6-2 System with 1 substitution”:

If a team has a very strong setter who is unfortunately not suited to playing as a frontcourt option then this could be a way to enable such a player to have a role within the team. The setter is such an important position because they connect the service reception unit to the offense. She is your playmaker, your quarterback so to speak, hence why if you have a strong setter, you will want to be able to play her and utilize her setting skills. This system allows a coach to give playing time to this type of player.

As with other 6-2 offenses, this system also gives your team three front-row attackers at all times, giving your setters more choices on offense while also making your offense more difficult to defend. The opposite role within many teams is that of a power hitter, someone you can chuck any ball towards and give free rein to take a swing at the ball, especially in the Men’s game. As an opposite myself, there were many times when my coach would turn around to me and tell me to hit the ball, whether in-system, out-of-system, whatever. Having such a player for 3 rotations across the frontcourt allows a team to relieve some of the offensive expectations on the middle and outside players who will be alongside them on the frontcourt for 2 of their 3 rotations. This also provides an opportunity to redefine the roles of other players within the team: for example, if you have a middle who blocks well but doesn’t score so many points in attack, you can allow them to focus more on the blocking aspect of their game. This is only possible because you have strong attacking threats through both pin hitters.

In the context of planning practices, making the best use of the time available can determine how successful a team can be. Having specialist roles means that players are able to focus in training on only the specific tasks that they are expected to perform so they are able to complete more repetitions. Different training groups can be set up, working on different tasks. For example, the setters might be able to work with the middles on offense whilst the outsides are getting passing repetitions from the opposites. When players aren’t expected to have strong fundamentals in all skills, especially at the higher levels of the game, practices can be broken down and become more productive within the time available. The one exception to all this is the hybrid player who, because of the greater number of tasks they have to perform, is likely to get fewer repetitions in training. With this system, only having one hybrid player in a team reduces any associated risks.

Another skill that this system allows for is when a team’s opposite is a strong server. The opposite can stay on the court for the extra rotation to serve when in position 1 without the team having to make an extra substitution to have a setter on the court as well. The hybrid player in position 4 would be able to play as the setter for the one rotation when the opposite is serving. The team now has a strong serving option that potentially wins points and the opposite can provide an extra backcourt attack option for that single rotation.

Why can a strong serve be important? Coach Joe Trinsey has compiled statistics from Collegiate and National Team matches, and the correlation between serving and point scoring is something to take into consideration. If you haven’t already, I would strongly recommend listening to him discuss this aspect of the volleyball game through the GMS portal or a Coaching Clinic.

Advantages of a 6-2 Offense with 1 Subs

Advantages summary

  • The system only requires one hybrid player which allows for more specialization.

  • The team has three front-row attackers at all times.

  • Takes advantage of one athlete who can be a good attacker and a good setter.

Disadvantages of the “6-2 System with 1 substitution”

Setter-hitter connections play an important role in offensive success with any system. If a setter and hitter are unable to connect, frustration can build in both players and communication can tail off, resulting in a lack of trust within an important part of the team’s system. In a system that uses two different setters, it’s possible to set up the rotation so as to pair up attackers and setters who have good connections for a majority of the rotations. Be aware though that this could potentially create more chances of having less successful connections as there will always be one rotation when the attackers will have to play with their less preferred setter. If the style of set and the way that the setters choose to run the game differ too much then potentially the team could be left with no offensive output and hitters unable to put the ball away. In a tight game situation this could cost a team more points than they gain if they are unable to break out of a serve receive rotation.

The success of the system could also come down to practice repetitions. A hybrid player could have a great swing and good hands, but it takes a player with a good Volleyball IQ to be able to run the offense and be able to use repetition time effectively. For most high-level teams, this system is rarely used because it’s a difficult skill to be able to execute the requirements of multiple positions as a hybrid is required to do, hence why you tend to see the players that have this ability have a high volleyball knowledge and understanding of what the coach and the team is trying to achieve, and usually a lot of experience. This takes time and patience to build, things that not all programs will have.

Disadvantages summary

  • Hitters need to form setter-hitter connections with more than one setter.

  • A hybrid player needs focused repetitions of multiple skills – this requires good planning in training and a player with a good volleyball IQ and understanding of the team philosophy.

What style of team might benefit from running the “6-2 System with 1 substitution?”

There is no magic system that should be applied if you have certain types of players. However, as a coach, you should always be open to the concept of testing different systems that might be suitable for your team. The suggestions below might indicate that this could be a potential system for your team if it describes the types of players that you have.

If you have one very versatile player that might be one of your best attackers and also one of your best setters, this is a good option to consider. It allows you to take advantage of this player's strengths while also ensuring you have three offensive players in the front row at all times.

This system might also suit a team with limited substitutions and an opposite who struggles with the requirements of playing backcourt, or a setter that might struggle in the front row.

If you have athletes who prefer playing with particular setters, then this could be a potential system to try to run. Make use of the existing connections without having to make multiple substitutions and keep the momentum flowing.

If a team has a weakness with either their middle blockers or outside hitters, then having the opportunity to bring in an offensive opposite might just balance out the weakness and keep the opposition’s blocking unit guessing where the ball is going to be set.

National Championship Winning High School Team Running a 6-2 Offense with 1 Sub

Team style summary

  • Teams with a versatile player that would be a good attacker and good setter

  • Teams with limited substitutions but no opportunity for two hybrid players.

  • Teams with players preferring different setters.

  • Teams with an attacking weakness in either a middle blocker or outside hitter.

Further your knowledge

To see this system in action, sign up for our GMS+ account where we walk you through the rotations and the role changes of each of the positions. From there you can observe how the Valencia Vikings boy's volleyball team used this system in 2008 to take down Santa Barbara in their CIF Championship match. Proof that the system was effective for the program? Maintaining the Number 1 spot in the entire nation all season long as finishing the year as the boy's high school volleyball national champions. In the video, you might even be able to observe the different connections that the attackers have with each of the different setters.

  • What differences do you notice when looking at the 2 types of opposite attackers in the video?

  • How often does the ball get set to the hybrid player?

Check out the video and let us know your thoughts. As coaches, we should always strive to maintain a learning environment and be willing to share knowledge.

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