Ask A College Coach
What do you look for in a defensive specialist/libero?
The libero is a lot like the setter to me, your team will not reach full potential without a consistent, competitive libero. I look for a strong, stable platform and an aggressive attitude. I want my libero to be a bit of a perfectionist, where simply touching the ball is not good enough for them; they should expect to touch everything, and then put the ball where they want it.
Assistant Coach, University at Buffalo
Really looking for a kid that has a natural touch on the ball. Some kids make passing and defense look easy, that is a big thing that I look for. Of course having some athleticism is plus, sometimes your best athlete is your best passer/defender sometimes they are not. Sometimes a kids touch on the ball is so natural and you look at them and question if they are actually an athlete. Good passers and defenders come in all shapes and sizes, it is my job to look at the result of the ball and not the player. If I am watching a team play and the L is making hard digs look easy they stand out to me. They don’t have to be really loud but they do need to be steady and someone that doesn’t get rattled easily.
Head Coach, Radford University
I’m looking for my Libs to be Hoovers. They are there to pick up all of the dirt. There are some Libs who are very good defenders and some who are good on serve reception. If they can be good at both, they will be highly recruited. They must be quick to the ball. I’ve had Libs who didn’t have great foot speed, but were great at reading where the ball was headed. The difference between a Lib and a DS could be personality. A Lib is someone who a coach feels makes everyone better, and they need to be on the court as much as possible. Having a tough serve, being able to set/pass 2nd balls after the setter makes the 1st play, and talking to the hitters
about their available shots are things Libs/DS’s can do to make their teams better.
Former Head Coach (retired in 2014 after 30 years), George Mason University
Consistent SR is the number 1 priority out of a libero. Someone that is confident and comfortable passing at least a third of the court but often half the court. A libero that can extend rallies by making tough digs on balls that should be a kill for the other team as something that stands out. It is tough to evaluate liberos
sometimes so liberos always have to be locked in.
Assistant Volleyball Coach, UVA
For libero’s and DS’ we look number one at their ability to serve receive with a solid platform and posture. Our starting libero always has to be our best passer of the group. We then look for players who are quick and are great low posture players, we need players who can read and react to the randomness of the game. Libero’s have to be loud and aggressive players with a nothing hits the floor mentality. Setters and Libero’s need to be knowledgeable about game strategy as they are in charge of the offense and defense respectively.
Head Volleyball Coach, University of Mary Washington
Mentality and fearlessness to get in front of the other teams best attackers without a block. And confidence/organizational skills for serve receive. Volleyball IQ is so important for this position to be able to RUN the back court and lead as well. Speed, platform control, a voice, and NONSTOP effort on any and every ball.
Former Assistant Volleyball Coach, University of Louisville Volleyball
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Chad M Gatzlaff
Quiet body and platform, makes the tough dig look easy, the ball goes to target, can set the second ball and put her hitter in a position to get a kill, works hard to cover hitters, always in defensive posture, great communicator.
The biggest thing we look for is tenacity. The ability to move your feet and make incredibly athletic plays at all costs and never ever giving up on a play. Ball control (both platform and overhand) is essential. We look for disciplined players who work extremely hard without the ball and make their jobs look easy.
Our priority is Serve Receive. We like a confident player who can ultimately pass half the court. Secondly, we look at defensive touches.
Serving and passing skills then defense....steady eddie
I look for fast, precise feet. The key to being a great passer is moving in posture, and moving to the right place to remain in that posture at contact. Often times I have found that soccer players make great liberos.
For DS and liberos, I look for players that can pass money balls to target while at the same time be active all over the floor. She needs to be ‘Fearless’ and need to have that mentality that nothing will touch the floor. She will be my defensive floor general and will need to communicate with the net players (especially the middle). I want a libero with a big mouth and a big heart!
Head Women's Volleyball Coach, Northern Virginia Community College
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