Volleyball Serve Receive Formations in a 6-2 Offense

Updated on April 14, 2020
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I love the sport of volleyball and enjoy sharing strategies to help teams win.

What Is a 6-2 Offense?

One of the most popular offenses in volleyball is the 6-2. That is when you have six hitters (two outsides, two middles, and two right side hitters) and two setters. The setters get substituted out when they go to the front row, and a right side hitter replaces them.

While a little over half the game is spent in transition, the other half will be spent in serve receive. This article will look to provide simple formations for a team running a 6-2 offense.

In all the photos, the front row players will be highlighted in red so that they stand out.

Rotation 1

For the first rotation, we started our starting setter in zone 1. For the purposes of this article, we have the outside hitter following the setter (following means that they would be the next server after the setter). We will also assume that a libero will go in for a backrow middle hitter.

Most teams will attempt to pass with both outside hitters and a libero, and our patterns will reflect this. There will be a few rotations when we can employ an alternate serve receive by having the right side hitter as a passing option, and those will be demonstrated.

In rotation 1, we drop the front row outside hitter (OH1) back to pass with the Libero and second outside hitter (OH2). This will force our players to hit out of position in serve receive (right side hitter hits on the left side and the left side hitter hits from the right side on the first play).

Rotation 1
Rotation 1

Rotation 1 and 4 Alternative Formations

There are two fairly common alternative rotations in the first rotation. In the left side of the photo above, this is called stacking. It's when you bring your front row outside hitter over to the left side in order to pass. This allows the middle hitter (MH2) and outside hitter (OH1) to hit from their normal positions. The right side hitter (RSH) will need to hit something outside of their normal range (a combination with the middle hitter, a slide, or a 3-1), or they can race across the court as the serve is in the air to hit from the right side.

In the second alternative, you could push the outside hitter (OH1) up and drop the right side hitter back and into serve receive. Both players will hit out of position for the first attack and then can switch after the ball goes over.

Rotation 1 and 4 Alternative Formations
Rotation 1 and 4 Alternative Formations

Rotation 2

In rotation 2, the front row outside hitter (OH2) will drop back and pass, while the setter pushes up behind the right side hitter. Typically, the middle hitter (MH2) and the right side will switch spots as the serve is in the air so that all three players are attacking from their preferred spots in the offense.

Rotation 2 provides the most common overlap in the 5-1 serve receive formations. While the right side hitter (RSH) is encouraged to shift to the right to try to get out of the way and closer to the right side to attack, it is imperative that the setter remains between the libero and back row outside (OH1). The setter tends to drift right with the right side and ends up overlapped with the back row outside hitter (OH1). Stress to the setter that they merely have to remain behind the right side hitter (RSH) and do no need to move left or right with them.

Rotation 2
Rotation 2

Rotation 3

In rotation 3, the front row outside hitter (OH2) will drop back into left back to pass. The setter will push up behind the front row middle (MH1). One thing to stress to the setter is that they can move all the way over to be just to the left of the back row outside hitter (OH1), but emphasize that they still have to remain behind the front row middle hitter.

Rotation 3
Rotation 3

Rotation 3 and 6 Alternative Formation

In rotation 3, one simple change is to leave the front row outside hitter on the three-meter line (10' line in America) and drop the front row right side hitter back to pass. One difference to stress to the setter will be that they have to stay further to the left than in the traditional formation where both outside hitters are back passing.

Rotation 3 and 6 Alternative Formation
Rotation 3 and 6 Alternative Formation

Rotation 4

Rotation four will be the opposite of Rotation 1 with a new setter and a new right side hitter. There will be a double substitute every three rotations, unless of course you have a setter who is also a good hitter. Then you will only need to substitute one setter in for a right side hitter. If you have two setters that can attack, then you may not even need to substitute. The same alternate rotations that you have in rotation one will also apply to rotation 4.

Rotation 4
Rotation 4

Rotation 5

Much like rotation 4, rotation 5 will be a mirror image of rotation 2. That's one of the beauties of the 6-2 offense: Teams really only need to learn three different rotations, and they repeat them every three rotations.

Rotation 5
Rotation 5

Rotation 6

Just like the previous two rotations, rotation 6 mirrors rotation 3. It also has the same alternate option as rotation 3. After rotation 6, there will be a second double substitution (setter1 and RSH1 come back into the game).

Rotation 6
Rotation 6


If your team has two good setters, then the 6-2 offense might be best for you. If they can also hit, you may be able to save substitutions. But either way, your team will only need to learn and practice three different rotations. Best of luck!

Questions & Answers


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      • Valeant profile imageAUTHOR


        8 months ago from Syracuse, NY

        Happy to be able to help!

      • profile image


        8 months ago

        Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge. Your summaries are the best I've found; clear, concise, and informative. This info has helped my team develop and refine our offense. Cheers


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