The different systems in volleyball

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Volleyball, besides being a very fun sport, is also a technical sport. Like any sport, volleyball has many different systems. Think for example of defensive systems, blocking systems and passing systems. And within these systems you also have different possibilities.

Below we have listed some of the most common systems for you.

Defense Systems

Defending is incredibly important in volleyball, so it is important to get this right. There are many different defensive systems, but the best known are: 3-1-2, 3-2-1, 2-1-3 and the 2-0-4 system. A lot of numbers, are you getting confused already? No worries, we explain below exactly how it works:

The first figure represents the people at the net, the figure after that is about the block coverage and the third figure concerns the defenders.

3-1-2 system

With this system, the center back is responsible for block coverage. The one shifts with the attack and because of this the other players do not have to move around much. Therefore, this system is easy to implement. Only disadvantage is that your weak spot is in the middle back of the field.

3-2-1 system

In this system, the two back players are responsible for the tips behind the block. This is also called a rotational defense, since all defensive players shift from left to right and vice versa when attacking. The disadvantage to this system is that the back defender (the mid) has to move a lot and the center of the field is a weak spot.

2-1-3 system

The preloader that is not blocking slides behind the blocking in this system. This system is easy when the forward player supports the middle blocker. Also, in this system, the playmaker can do his part in defense. A disadvantage to this system is that the forehand player must quickly return to his spot to participate in the attack.

2-0-4 system

If your opponent plays almost no tip balls over the block, it might be wise not to have a defender as a blocker. That way you have four deep defenders and two players at the net. In addition, there will still be two deep defenders responsible for any tips behind the block.

Blocking systems

In addition to defense systems, there are also blocking systems. Of course, blocking must be well organized. After all, defense already starts at the net. From the blocking you must also be able to attack immediately. Below three blocking systems are briefly explained, namely the zone system, the Read&React vs. Commit system and the formation of a 2-block system.


Each blocker is responsible for their own zone. For every attack in their own zone, the blocker responsible is the one who at least sets a 1-block. And where the zones overlap, the blockers try to set a 2-block together.

Read&React vs. Commit system

These are two different blocking intentions interchangeably and they indicate the way to respond to a quick attack from the opponent. The purpose of the Read&React intention is blocking from the middle. The blockers read the attitude of the playmaker, they wait for the set-up to happen and respond by jumping or moving sideways. In Commit, the intention is to jump with the attacker on the first attack and set a 2-block on the second

Forming a 2-block system

The very first defense in volleyball is blocking, therefore the more blockers, the better. It is therefore good to form a 2-block whenever possible, this way you leave little space for the attacker. Try to close all four hands together and use side steps when moving.

You now know a little more about the different systems in volleyball. We hope you found this blog interesting and please check with your own team what defensive system you play and try out different ones.

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