I had a question come in from a reader on the subject of serve receive.

Do you have any thoughts, articles, philosophies about 2 person serve receive? I am coaching a good 16s juniors team and would like to think outside the box some.

I actually used a 2-man reception with a boy’s team back in 1998 for a state tournament. The team had two clearly strong passers – one an OH and one a RS. It worked out pretty well as we won the gold. 🙂

At that point, though, the serving in the boys’ game wasn’t as tough as it’s become (we didn’t face any jump servers that I can recall). As a result, it was much easier for two players to cover the court than it likely would be today. It would be a challenge to go with only 2 passers in the women’s game because they physically don’t cover as much space as men and the flatter trajectory of the serves already makes them very challenging to pass.

I can still see value in a 2-person reception focus, though. By that I mean having two players take most of the court with one or more others having smaller, defined areas of coverage.  I once watched Wisconsin play a system like this. Here’s a photo I took from that match.

click for larger version

You can actually see this sort of thing at work when a team wants to limit how much passing a front row attacker has to do. They push them toward the side line and let the libero and back row attacker take like 80% of the court.

Personally, I think there are always opportunities to put your best passers in position to take the most balls. You need to consider what sort of serves you’ll be facing and look at your rotations. There may be ways you can position non-primary passers to take certain balls. For example, a MB taking short serves in their zone. It’s all about maximizing what you have.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

    1 Response to "Philosophy on 2-person serve receive"

    • Roger Ozima

      UW-Milwaukee used a 1 man serve receive back in early ‘90’s. They’d show 2-3 passers, but only one guy would pass about 90% of the court. That one passer was one of my former junior players who I told ‘that if you can pass, you will be on the court.’ This was before the libero was created.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.