3 Best Volleyball Positions for Short Players

Volleyball is definitely a game for everyone If you just play socially. You can play whatever positions you want.

Having said that, in serious leagues or international level competitions, you will likely be picked if there are two players of similar technical ability and you’re taller.

Volleyball is truly a tall sport, while only some positions on the court require giants to play there.

Volleyball Positions for Short Players

Positions like opposite and middle blocker are generally more suited for taller players due to these roles’ physical and strategic demands.

The preferred height scale of volleyball positions for short players would go libero – setter – outside hitter.

Today, we’re diving into the best roles suited for short athletes, exploring the unique challenges and opportunities each position presents to shorter players.

How Tall Is the Average Volleyball Player?

The average height for professional men’s volleyball is 6’43″(196.02cm), and the average size for professional women’s volleyball itself is 6’28″(181.43cm).

Now, putting Ishikawa, who is 193cm/6’4″, in the middle position, you can call him short because the average middle blocker height for men in professional leagues or international competitions is around or even above 6’8″ (203 cm).

outside hitter6’57” or 197.5 cm5’11″~6’1″ (180 cm~185 cm)
opposite hitter6’85” (204.5cm)6’15” (187cm)
Middle Blocker6’8″ (203 cm)6.5″ (195 cm)
Setter6’1″~6’5″ (185 cm~195 cm)5’7″~5’11” (170 cm~180 cm)
Libero5’9″~6’1″ (175 cm~185 cm)5’5″~5’9″ (165 cm~175 cm)

In the above diagram, you can see the average height for each different player role at high-level competition.

You can check the average height in high school volleyball in our FAQs.

Can Volleyball Players Be Short?

Yes, you can! Nothing wrong with being the shortest. You can still succeed in a big league as the shorter player.

In volleyball, skills can often trump height.

It’s not just about reaching the highest point over the net. It’s about agility, precision, and strategy.

Think about it – the best setters aren’t always the tallest players. They’re the ones with pinpoint accuracy and quick decision-making skills.

And liberos? They’re the unsung heroes, often shorter but with reflexes and ball control that are second to none.

Some volleyball legends weren’t the tallest on the court but were giants in terms of talent.

Liberos like Farhad Zarif(5′ 5″) and Joella Marie de Jesus(5′ 2″) have shown that being short isn’t a barrier to achieving greatness in volleyball.

Vid: Power Volleyball (YouTube)

Sekita from the Japan Men’s national team is a professional setter at just 5′ 9″(175cm) tall.

They’re a testament to the fact that in volleyball – how high you jump or how fast you move can be just as important, if not more so, than how tall you stand.

Having said that, not every inch you lack in height can be made up with skill and determination.

The sport has become unimaginably difficult for shorter athletes. You may never be an opposite hitter or middle blocker as a short player, especially at the professional or Olympic level.

Best Positions for Short Volleyball Players

You can become a back-row titan as an outstanding libero or a defensive specialist.

Libero Are Your First Preference

As a coach during my teaching career, I can vouch for this position being a perfect fit for shorter players.

Why? Because it’s all about defence, agility, and ball control. The libero is the backbone of the team’s defence, adept at digging and passing, skills where height isn’t a factor.

This position allows short players to showcase their quick reflexes and strategic play, making them invaluable on the court.

You can find in the above chart the volleyball libero’s average height for males is from 175 cm to 185 cm and 165 cm and 175 cm for females, which shows height is not an essential factor in being a libero.

Besides, the shortest professional libero in 2023 is barely 5 feet tall. At just 152cm, she is Ella de Jesus! She used to be a good spiker and strong enough to go through blocks.

She makes it work, and you can too!

Having said that, At the 2012 Olympic Games, the average height per player as a libero comes to 185cm, so libero are not short. When libero stands on the court full of giants, they often look noticeably shorter.

Can You Make Volleyball Your Career as a Libero?

Yes, you can become a professional volleyball athlete as a libero or defensive specialist.

But you must be the best athlete!

There is more competition because the role is highly specialized, and only one libero is typically used per team.

Liberos often receive less recognition, and getting noticed by professional teams or scouts takes time and effort.

Moreover, Libero is the least valued position, and you have to work really hard to outshine the competition among many talented players.

Despite that, you can still earn some good money if you are exceptional liberos.

Can Short People Play Volleyball as Setter?

Another suitable position for short players is the setter. It’s like being the quarterback of the volleyball team.

Setters need to be quick thinkers, have excellent ball-handling skills, and be able to set up plays that outsmart taller blockers.

Height doesn’t limit a setter’s ability to control the game’s pace and flow, making it an ideal position for players who may not have the advantage of height but possess a sharp tactical mind.

Benjamin Toniutti is 183cm tall and often looks short on the court when standing with teammates. Yes, he is relatively short for his position, but he is an excellent setter with a spike height of 333cm.

However, suppose you are in a higher-level international competition or national league. In that case, it is rare to see short setters as height becomes a more significant factor in increasing your team’s chances of winning.

While setters are primarily playmakers, they also participate in blocking, especially when positioned in the front row. Height really helps to improve their reach and effectiveness in blocking opposing hitters.

Two inches makes a big difference when you are playing this position.

Can You Be an Outside Hitter if You’re Short?

While the outside hitter position is traditionally associated with taller athletes, short players can excel here, too, thanks to their speed, agility and jumping ability.

Onuma Sittirak has proved that a short player can also be an exceptional outside hitter.

You can quickly find gaps in the opponent’s defence and make powerful, well-placed hits. It’s about outsmarting the block, not just overpowering it.

Most importantly, it would help to focus on building freakish verticals to hit over the blockers.

Image that the average height of outside hitters in Olympic games is 6’57”, and they can jump! What about the blocker from your opponent? Their average size is 6’8″!

When your jump isn’t high enough, you’re pretty much limited to hitting the ball towards the opposite court. This strategy tends to diminish your team’s attacking strength.

Besides, the opponent can quickly start a defensive attack, so it would help practise to improve your passing.

If you’re considerably short as an outside hitter, working hard on your vertical jump training would be best, or you won’t play in high-level leagues or any big international competitions.

Remember that height matters, even if you have the same spike height as a short outside hitter.

If you ask any coach to pick between two volleyball players who are equally skilled but of different heights, I’m likely they’d choose the taller one every time, just like I would.

The reason is simple: a player who’s 6’5″ can reach a height of 10 feet much faster.

How to Play Better if I’m Short?

Whether you plan on being a libero, defensive specialist, setter or outside hitter, you can always focus on improving skills and working out to compensate for your height.

Skills You Should Develop as Liberos

Remember that passing, digging and service receiving are part of libero’s primary responsibilities.

One of your most significant advantages as a libero is your ability to move quickly and change direction effortlessly.

As liberos, you should spend as much time on the skills as possible.

When liberos dig a blocked shot and catch a lost ball outside the court, they connect the defence with the offence and turn it into a chance ball.

If you play liberos, you can practice the following aspects to perform better as short players.

  • Work on your reaction speed. You can spend more time on lateral movement.
  • Learn to predict the movements of hitters. Refine your diving and sliding techniques with an eye on the target.
  • Work on bump pass and setting skills. You should also do some setting, as you must step in and set the ball occasionally.
  • Work on passing, digging and being explosive. They help to prove you an asset to the team as the best libero.

Focus On Vertical Jump as Setter or Outside Hitters

If you plan on being a setter or outside hitter, you should spend as much time training vertical jump and agility as possible.

It’s not just about jumping higher to block or spike. It’s about being faster and more responsive on the court.

Focus on exercises that build leg strength and explosive power. Squats, lunges, and box jumps are great for this.

Agility ladders and shuttle runs can improve your quickness and footwork, making you a more formidable player on the court.

Look at the secrets to jumping higher from Josh Barrina, with a 344 cm spike height, at 175 cm tall.

Effective Drills to Improve Your Vertical Jump

You can consistently record and calculate your touch height with a vertical jump calculator when working on these exercises.

High-intensity squats. Doing it in groups of three is recommended, and teammates should remember to provide support on both sides.

Explosive power training. The iron plates on the ground can be stacked as a challenge for the team members.

Waist and abdominal core training with weights. Adding an extra 20kg barbell plate is recommended.

Jump immediately upon landing. It mainly trains the ability of muscle nerve cells to gather instantly.

Jump with both legs. Similar to an advanced version of a frog jump, discuses can be stacked on the stool for testing.

Finally, You can choose the vertical height of the standing jump as the ultimate test.

You can add the discus according to ability. If possible, let your coach regularly test whether you are making progress!

How Can You Hit and Block if You’re Short?

Assume you’re working on vertical jump training, with the goal of touching 11′ eventually.

What are some good strategies to become a more effective spiker for someone short?

Some things I’ve been teaching my students are also good tips for spiking when you’re short.

  • Tooling the block. Purposely hitting the blocker’s fingertips and going high off their hands.
  • Roll shots. Hit the ball softly over the blocker and make a shorter shot that will fall in front of the defenders.
  • Ensure you are not facing in the direction of the spike. You can work on line shots and cross shots with a body feint.

As a short player with a low jump, you only have one option in most situations: hitting at a sharp angle to your left or right. It becomes exponentially difficult for you to hit down the line.

While there isn’t much out of the ordinary you can do on blocking. Having said that, It really helps to jump high.

With a higher vertical, you will increase your attack options and gain an edge by changing the variety of ways you spike.


Is Volleyball a Good Sport for Short Girls?

Absolutely! Volleyball is a sport where agility, ball control, and strategic thinking can make a huge impact, regardless of height, especially in social volleyball.

You don’t have to be tall to play volleyball. While you get more work to improve your jumping ability if you play other positions like a setter or outside hitter as you’re short.

What Is the Short Person in Volleyball Called?

They are liberos, and their primary responsibility is defensive skills like digging and passing.

The libero is often the shortest player on the team.

How Tall Do You Have to Be to Play Volleyball?

You can definitely be any height If you are playing social volleyball.

If you play volleyball for a big league or competitive play, you can refer to the average height diagram from the highest level competition we mentioned.

The average height of high school volleyball players can vary widely due to the diverse range of developmental stages among teenagers. However, general height ranges are commonly observed in high school volleyball.

Outside Hitter5’10” and 6’4″ (178 to 193 cm)5’8″~6’2″ (173 to 188 cm)
Middle Blocker6’2″~6’8″ (188 to 203 cm)5’10″~6’4″ (178 to 193 cm)
Setters5’10″~6’3″ (178 to 190 cm)5’6″~6’0″ (168 to 183 cm)
Liberos5’7″~6’0″ (170 to 183 cm)5’3″~5’8″ (160 to 173 cm)

There is no minimum height for a volleyball player. It would be best to be around or above the average height. If you’re considerably short, you can succeed in being an exceptional libero.

What Is Considered Short in Volleyball?

The average height matters extraordinarily when you want to know what is considered short in the big leagues.

Assume there are three professional athletes. Tom (6’2″ as an outside hitter), Eric (6’2″ as opposite) and Alex (6’4″ as a middle blocker)

In the volleyball player height chart, the outside hitter has an average height of 6’3″. So Tom is not short as the difference is just 1 inch. He is just lower than average.

While the OP position has an average height of 6’6″. Eric is considered short as the difference is 4 inches(10 cm). That height matters for a high-level opposite.

Now, putting Alex, who is 193cm/6’4″, in the middle position, you can also call him short, as the average middle hitter’s height is 6’7″.

All of them are short, considering the average height for volleyball is 6’5″.

Closing Remarks

In indoor or beach volleyball, height is just one aspect of the game, although being short will make it exponentially more difficult for you to be a pro.

What truly matters is your skills, determination, and the unique strengths you bring to the court.

Keep in mind that it’s not the end of the road if your height just doesn’t cut it down the road. There’s always a turn at the fork to play as a libero.

Every position for short players is important and challenging in its own way. Don’t give up. If you want to be a setter or outside hitter, that’s fine. Do your best to jump ridiculously high, and you will succeed!

About The Author

Carlos Sun

Carlos Sun

I have been practicing and studying volleyball for more than 18 years, and now a high school volleyball coach in LA. I am passionate about the sport and my love for volleyball has encouraged me to start writing for Volleyball Addict. I look for ways to further my personal and professional endeavors by combining my experiences as a player and coach into unique and insightful perspectives in my content.

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