• Dave Neeley

6-6 Offensive System

6-6 Offensive System


Sport is such a great developmental tool for not only the physical attributes of an individual but also the mental and personal attributes. We all started off as beginners at one stage in the sport we continue to have a passion for. You were able to learn vital skills and compete, probably at first just being told to keep the ball off the floor, progressing through the levels until you were ready to hang up your kneepads and start giving back to the game in your own way.


We have all been through that beginner stage, and so the likelihood is that you will have experienced the most basic volleyball system, the 6-6 Offensive system. Designed so that players can compete from day one of their volleyball experience, the lack of specialization and roles means that you can have any mix of individuals come in and just play the sport. In the current climate where volleyball is becoming more and more popular around the world, it is important to provide these competitive opportunities at the grassroots level to try to then produce players that want to further their volleyball “careers.”



What is the “6-6 Offensive System?”


In the 6-6 offensive system, the starting line-up will consist of 6 volleyball players who have undesignated roles. The basic concept behind this system is that all players will have the opportunity to perform all of the skills to be able to develop them in a game situation. Players remain in the same position that they start in for the whole rally and fulfill whatever role is designated for that particular position. The roles for each position are usually as follows:


• The player in zone 2 or zone 3 (whichever you prefer for your team) on the court will be the setter for that rotation – playing this position allows players to understand how to read a pass, and put up a hittable ball for attackers


• The two remaining front row players will be attackers and might also be used to pass – Players learn how to pass and link to attack as well as learn how to block


• The three back row players will be passers and defenders until they rotate into the front row.


The system is designed so that in backcourt, players will pass and play defense in the positions that they start the rotation in. At some point in the game, all six players will pass and play defense whilst they are in backcourt, and there are no substitutions required to play this system – Players haven’t yet developed the “I’m a ………. so I can’t ………..” mentality. In terms of blocking, all players will have the opportunity to block in each of the frontcourt positions, as they will block in the position, they start the rotation in.


Here is what your serve-receive and base defense formations would look like, depending on which zone your setter is setting from.




6-6 System Summary:

  • Everyone plays every position.

  • The designated setter zone can be zone 2 (front-right) or zone 3 (front-middle), with the other two front row players as attackers.

  • All back row players are passers and defenders.

  • Front row players stay in their positions and don't switch back-and-forth after serves.


Advantages of the “6-6 Offensive System”:


When an athlete is first learning the game, it is important that they get to experience all of the skills that combine to produce the end product that is volleyball. For a player to get immersed in the game and find a passion, it is important that they can understand and get a feel for the whole experience; the 6-6 system will provide them with an opportunity from the very beginning to experience all the skills involved in playing a game of volleyball. We also want to create an environment or situation that enables an athlete not only to compete from the very beginning but also provide them with an opportunity to learn and develop their skills and understanding of the game; this promotes that passion we all still carry to this day.


The 6-6 Offensive system is the most basic system: players are not required to do any extra thinking about more complicated aspects of volleyball such as positioning, switching, or special assignments. We want to take away any extra stress and allow the players to focus on the fun aspect of the game; the aspect that will get them excited to play the sport and more likely to want to pursue the sport to higher levels. This system is not about producing the best athletes or results as soon as possible; it is about getting more players involved in the game and learning why as coaches we love the sport.


As with the 6-3 system, it allows the coach to also see how their players perform in different roles within a competitive environment. You will be able to see which players step up as leaders, which players understand the role of the setter, which players are strong attackers. You will be able to get an understanding of your team's strengths, but also view the areas you might need to focus on developing across the whole group. Even at the very basic levels of volleyball, it is important for players to see their own development, to feel that they are improving. After competing in a 6-6 system, a coach can then give feedback from a competitive situation that will then make the more monotonous drills seem more relevant because the athletes can understand why they are doing the drills.



Advantages Summary:

  • No specialization required; allows for competition from very beginning.

  • Players get to learn and practice multiple skills, all players pass, block, defend, attack, and set.

  • Very simple – No switching; no penetrating setter; very basic serve receive formations.

  • A way to enter competitions and allow players to grow without adding complexity to the competitive environment;

  • A way to enter competitions and allow players to grow without adding complexity to the competitive environment.


Disadvantages of the “6-6 Offensive System”:


It is safe to say that you are very unlikely to see any top-level or even intermediate volleyball teams employing a 6-6 Offensive system. At the higher levels of the game, it is not practical to have every player be able to perform every skill to such a high level that would be required in order for this system to succeed at the very top. So instead of looking at the disadvantages of using this system in a high-level environment, what I want to draw your attention to are some of the aspects of the system to be aware of at the beginner level.


Whilst this system is great for allowing teams to compete, what a coach will have to be wary of is the way that he designates specific roles to positions on the court. For example, when you watch beginners play the sport and you say the setter has to take the second ball, what often happens is that a ball will be dug deep into the court, and everyone will stand and watch the ball fall because they expect the setter to run and get the ball. Players have not yet developed an understanding of the game and how to react to the many different scenarios that occur during a game. Just be aware of these pitfalls when assigning roles to certain positions on the court and focus more on getting players to react to situations and basically keeping the ball off the floor!


You will also have six different setters, and so one of the pitfalls can be that players will stress out and try to overcomplicate their sets or panic when the ball is high. One of the key setting principles at Gold Medal Squared is to get setters to understand that their role is simply to provide a hittable ball. This is even more apparent when in a 6-6 Offensive system, getting players to understand that they are not expected to set a perfect ball, rather keep the ball high and inside and let their teammate take a swing.


Confidence! When using the 6-6 system for beginners, growing confidence should be part of the reason for playing in a competitive environment. Players are able to see that they can play the game or that it could be a sport for them to pursue or just enjoy. However, because the skills are usually still very raw if a player is not so strong in a specific skill, this can cause self-doubt and other confidence drainers. For example, with serve receive, you want to allow the player to get repetitions in a competitive environment but also understand that getting aced continuously is not going to help the player grow. This might mean a bit of tinkering by giving the player a smaller portion of the court but still explaining to them that you have faith in their abilities, maybe phrasing it as giving them a bit less responsibility to enable them to play to their strengths such as attacking.



Disadvantages Summary:

  • 6 different setters.

  • Each players must be at least somewhat proficient at each skill.

  • With specialization comes responsibilities, so how do you manage controlling the offense/passing unit etc?


What style of team might benefit from running the 6-6 system?


This is such a great system to run to enable your players to get a basic understanding of the whole game and how volleyball is played. If a player is thrown into a specialized position from the moment they are introduced to a sport, they will never fully understand or appreciate the game as a whole. One of the best ways to understand how to fulfill a specialized role on the team or to know what your teammates need from you in that position is to play all of the positions. This allows an athlete to understand how the execution of skills in one position can affect the ability of other positions to perform their roles.


The system is also a good idea for teams that want to understand the strengths of their athletes in order to specialize at a later date. Coaches are able to observe the way that players fulfill different roles on the court and can see where players' strengths and weaknesses are. With the system allowing players to compete, you also start to see who steps up to leadership roles and who really understands the game. You will also be able to see how players react to feedback, how they like to learn, and which players need different types of feedback in matches.


Most of all, whilst we might want to produce volleyball players that can go on to great prosperous careers, we first must develop volleyball enthusiasts; because this passion is the drive to help a player push past obstacles in development.



Style Summary:

  • Teams learning the game – teaches them to communicate and work together.

  • Teams who do not know what their strengths and weaknesses are yet.

  • Teams that want to compete but also experience the fun of playing a competitive match.