What is a Defensive Specialist?

A defensive specialist (DS) in volleyball is a specialized player who primarily focuses on passing and defense. DSs usually enter the game in the back row to replace weaker passers and defenders. Their primary responsibility is to receive serves and dig attacks, but they can also serve, block, and hit from the back row.

Responsibilities of a Defensive Specialist

  • Passing:
    DSs must be able to pass accurately and consistently, both overhand and underhand. They need to be able to pass to all three hitters, regardless of where they are on the court.
  • Defense:
    DSs need to be able to read the opponent’s attack and dig balls from all angles. They also need to be able to cover their teammates and pick up tips and spikes.
  • Serving:
    DSs should be able to serve accurately and consistently with a variety of serves, including float serves, topspin serves, and jump serves.
  • Blocking:
    DSs can block from the front row, but they are shorter than middle blockers, so they need to be quick and have good timing.
  • Hitting:DSs can hit from the back row, but they are less powerful than outside hitters, so they need to be smart and place their shots carefully.

Qualities of a Good Defensive Specialist

  • Athleticism:
    DSs need to be quick, agile, and have good reflexes.
  • Ball control:
    DSs need to have excellent passing and digging skills.
  • Court awareness:
    DSs need to be able to read the game and be in the right place at the right time.
  • Communication:
    DSs need to communicate effectively with their teammates.

Tips for Defensive Specialists

  • Be consistent:
    The most important thing for a DS is to be consistent in their passing and defense.
  • Be aggressive:
    Go after every ball, and don’t be afraid to dive.
  • Be smart:
    Read the opponent’s attack and position yourself accordingly.
  • Communicate:
    Talk to your teammates and let them know where you are and what you’re doing.

How to Become a Better Defensive Specialist

  • Practice regularly: The more you practice, the better you will become at passing, digging, and serving.
  • Watch film:
    Study the best DSs in the world and try to emulate their technique.
  • Get feedback from your coaches and teammates:
    Ask them what you can do to improve for a better game.


Defensive specialists are an essential part of any successful volleyball team. By developing their passing, defense, and serving skills, DSs can help their team win more games.

What is the difference between a DS and a libero?

A: The main difference between a DS and a libero is that a libero is a specialized defensive player who cannot attack the ball above the net. A DS, on the other hand, can attack the ball above the net, but they are less specialized in defense than a libero.

Q: What are some good drills for DSs?

A: Some good drills for DSs include the pepper drill, the serve-receive drill, the line drill, and the chaos drill.

Q: What are some tips for passing and digging?

A: Here are some tips for passing and digging:

  • Passing:
    • Get under the ball and use your platform.
    • Pass the ball to the setter with a high arc.
    • Be consistent and accurate.
  • Digging:
    • Get low and use your platform.
    • Dig the ball with your arms and hands extended.
    • Be aggressive and go after the ball.
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