Volleyball uniforms
August 11, 2008 11:38 PM   Subscribe

A question about Volleyball (real, not that Beach crap) uniforms.

So I was watching USA vs Cuba and the American #6 had a predominantly blue uniform while the rest of the team were wearing predominantly white. Cuba also had at least one player with a markedly different colour scheme. Can someone explain? Thanks.
posted by Neiltupper to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total)
I believe this is called the Libero player, whose role is defensive and, according to the rules on the above-linked site, must wear a "contrasting color" jersey designating himself.
posted by fireoyster at 11:55 PM on August 11, 2008

Thanks for the answer and it's speed!
posted by Neiltupper at 12:06 AM on August 12, 2008

A followup question. What is the point of the Libero? Why can't a specialized defensive player just be part of the normal team?
posted by salmacis at 3:06 AM on August 12, 2008

The libero used to be kinda sorta called a "defensive specalist". But, when USAV decided to try and be more in line with the international rules, they decided to introduce the libero to competition.
The libero has certain rules that apply only to them. For example, they aren't required to formally substitute for other players (you will have probably seen this when one player holds up a paddle). They are permitted to just dash onto the court and replace another player in the back row ONLY. They are not allowed to use "finger-action" to set the ball to another player if they attack the ball in front of the 10-foot line. For a while they also weren't able to serve, but I believe that has changed within the past couple of years.

I'll check and see if I can hunt down an old rulebook to give you all the nitty gritty details. But in short, they aren't part of the normal team because they are given special rules all on their own that can be used as an advantage.
posted by sperose at 4:46 AM on August 12, 2008

And a (somewhat) related question...

In a men's match I saw a night or two ago (Germany v Poland?) a few of the players had blue stickers on their biceps which extended past the inside of their elbows. I was wondering whether they were meant to enhance performance or decrease the risk of injury. Or just to look dorky? ;-)
posted by puffmoike at 6:02 AM on August 12, 2008

According to my dad (plays men's, obviously), he guesses it is some kind of protective wrapping.

And regarding the rulebooks:
Here's a PDF for the USA indoor rules. (English) Chapter 6 is all about the libero player.

Here's the PDF of the FIVB (international) rulebook. (English/French)

Judging by the uniforms of the officals, the Olympics are using FIVB rules. There isn't a vast amount of difference between the international rules and the US rules, mostly just to do with procedures (as in where the coach can stand/sit/yell at their players).
posted by sperose at 6:41 AM on August 12, 2008

What was the motivation for adding the libero to the game in the first place? Generally rules in long-standing sports aren't tinkered with for no reason.
posted by smackfu at 8:20 AM on August 12, 2008

What was the motivation for adding the libero to the game in the first place? Generally rules in long-standing sports aren't tinkered with for no reason.

In the last ten or so years since I started following the sport, they switched to rally scoring, changed the number of points to win a set, added (and tweaked) the libero, added the ability to play the ball from below the waist, changed where you could serve from, allowed you to hit the net with a serve, and stopped calling double-hits on a first hit. Surely no fully-developed sport has seen its rules change as much as volleyball.
posted by recoveringsophist at 10:21 AM on August 12, 2008

Note: This is all speculation on my part. I was playing and officiating at the time when some of these rules were put into place.

#1: Adding the libero: I think this was done to help with the fact that they had reduced the number of substitutions that teams now had (from 15 to 12, IIRC). By reducing this number, it meant that sometimes you were forced to leave someone who sucked in the backrow in that position. Having a libero come in can vastly help. (Also, this was a common thing in FIVB, the US was wayyyyy behind the times with regards to it.)

#2: Rally scoring: Games took wayyyyyyyyyyy too fucking long with sideout scoring. (I hated the time period of one or two years when they did the whole "oh the first 2/3 games of the match will be sideout scoring but the last one will be RALLY POINT DEATH MATCH." God that sucked.)

#3: Below the waist play: Heh. This one is always a favorite. The problem with this one is that it's a tricky mofo of a rule because in order to really kinda pull this off successfully, you have to be verrrrrrrrry careful not to lift the ball. Which can be a challenge.

#4: Hitting the net with a serve: Let-serves are nothing but tricky and nasty things. I think this was put into place because it makes the games more interesting. Plus, at the very high levels, they tend to do this moreso because they are putting everything into said serve and since you can't block from up there, it kinda increases your chances of getting it in bounds, whereas if you weren't able to clip the net on the way by, you'd send it flying out of bounds.

#5: No more double-hits on the first contact: This was done because it helps speed up the tempo of the game if you can attach on the second contact. Plus it looks badass to be able to manhandle someone's supposedly harsh serve with just your fingers.
posted by sperose at 10:56 AM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the expertise and opinion! These explanations are very helpful; it's just frustrating when you're playing casually (say, at a picnic or whatnot) to not have a standard, mostly unchanging set of 'rules' to appeal to.
posted by recoveringsophist at 11:12 AM on August 12, 2008

No problem. I just happened to be around during all the hoopla. If I can find some of my old papers, I'll see if I can find the old rule interpretation handouts that describe in intense detail why certain changes were made.
posted by sperose at 11:57 AM on August 12, 2008

Out of curiosity, what is it that you have against beach volleyball? It'd stick out like a sore thumb if you said, "I have a question about doubles tennis (real, not that singles crap)." Beach volleyball is 2v2 and on sand, but essentially the same sport and quite legit.
posted by explosion at 12:18 PM on August 12, 2008

explosion: I think that was in reference to the previous beach volleyball / bikini questions.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:34 PM on August 12, 2008

it's its
posted by Neiltupper at 1:21 PM on August 19, 2008

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