why is there a different color jersey in volleyball

Dear Sports Fan,
I was watching the World Cup Championships of Men s Volleyball the other dayPbetween the United States and Brazil. Why does one player wear a different colored jersey in Volleyball? Thanks, Nora An Oregon Ducks libero saves her team with a timely dig. Dear Nora, I ve been wondering about the person in volleyball who wears a different colored jersey for years. I ve known they were called a libero and that they played by a different set of rules but I didn t know what they were. Now I do! The libero is a defensive specialist by nature and by rule. PHe or she is usually the best player on the team at keeping the play alive by digging the opposing team s best shots before they hit the floor. The libero, which literally means free in Italian, is something of a magical position because it is allowed, by rule, to ignore most of the normal rotation and substitution rules in volleyball. PLike soccer, volleyball limits the number of substitutions allowed. PTeams are allowed six substitutions per set in international play but the libero may substitute infinitely. This allows a team to protect their front-court specialists (usually really tall players who like to spike the ball but aren t great at getting down on the floor and defending the other team s spikes) from having to play the back line. The libero can also play the whole game while normal court players must rotate off and then back on after they serve. As is often the case, with great freedom comes great restriction, and that is true with the libero. The libero is only allowed to play in the back line and cannot attempt any truly aggressive maneuvers like blocking or spiking a ball. PThe libero usually bumps the ball (hits it with her hands below her chest) butPis also allowed to set the ball (hit it up gently using two open hands,) but only from more than threePmeters behind the net. If the libero sets the ball from closer than three meters, play is allowed to continue but the libero s team has to just hit the ball over the net, they cannot try to spike it. The libero never gets to serve the volleyball. There can only be one libero, he or she is designated before the game by the coach (and by coming to the game wearing a different shirt,) and must remain the libero the entire game unless injured. The libero is a recent addition to volleyball. It was on April 20, 1998 by the president of FIVB, the organizing body of international volleyball. PSoon after it was introduced, the libero rule was adopted by U. S. high schools and colleges who, in addition to the benefit of longer, more exciting rallies, found that another benefit of the rule was inclusion.

Volleyball is a sport that rewards height. Smaller players cannot play nearly as well near the net as their taller counter-parts. The angles just don t work well up there unless you re tall enough to get your hands above the net. The libero gives an opportunity for at least the best of the shorter players to succeed. Said 5-foot-4 libero pioneer Kirstin Higareda to the,P It s a big deal. It s really given shorter people the opportunity to play volleyball. It s fun to think about it in the context of rule changes in other sports that are intended to offset an imbalance favoring either offensive or defensive play. In NHL hockey, the offensive zones were enlarged to create more scoring opportunities. In the NBA, the most obvious example is the introduction of the three-point shot to increase offense but other examples abound. Major League Baseball probably comes the closest to having a libero in the form of the designated hitter. The designated hitter or DH is a position who, like the libero, only plays one half of the game. Unlike the libero though, the DH only plays offense, batting regularly but having no responsibility in the field. The libero has cultural parallels that reach far beyond sports. It seems like every group of people and every pastime has that one person who s a little different; who plays by another set of rules. Shakespeare s plays are full of these kind of characters, the most famous of which is probably Puck in A Midsummer Night s Dream. In a deck of cards, there s four of every card plus a couple of jokers. The unique character is called the fool in some traditional English dance forms like rapper and molly. Every group of friends needs a goodPoddball, just like every volleyball team needs a good libero. So, if you re ever trying to remember what a libero is, justPremember: a libero in volleyball is just like Ol Dirty Bastard was in Wu Tang except less offensive. Groan inducingly yours, Ezra Fischer Oct 7, 2009 By Scott Sierzenga Western Herald If youБre ever watching a volleyball game and you notice the one girl on the team wearing a black jersey while everyone else is wearing gold, they are not lost, you have just found the libero. The libero has been an important and the most curious position on the volleyball court since its introduction in 2002. This addition to the game was supposed to add excitement to the game of volleyball and potentially raise the level of play.

The libero was introduced as a way to keep a good defender on the floor, as only six substitutions were allowed. All liberos must wear a different color jersey as the team they play on and are normally defensive oriented players. The word libero is kind of a strange name for a position though. БBasically itБs another word for defensive specialist,Б Caitlin Strimel, former libero and current defensive specialist for the Western Michigan University Volleyball team, said. БThe key thing is ball control. Б Strimel is currently third allБtime in MidБAmerican Conference history with 2250 career digs and is also the holder of the MAC Defensive Player of the Year for two years in a row, which has never happened before in conference history. The different colored uniforms are used to track the libero to make sure they stay in the backcourt because they are not allowed to attack, as well as for substitution purposes. The libero is strictly a backcourt position and even though theyБre for defensive purposes only, they cannot block or attempt to block a teamБs attack. Although making a transition to this position seems like it might be a difficult one to do, itБs been done before, twice in the case of the Broncos. БI was an outside hitter in high school,Б Strimel said. БI got cut from my high school club team and they told me if I play libero theyБll take me. Б This season, Strimel moved from her spot at libero to play defensive special, which made way for an emerging defensive leader at libero in Katie Eberling. WMU has won eight straight games since the change. Б[At libero] I think you need to be a huge voice for the team,Б Eberling said. БYouБre the voice behind the hitters telling them what they have open and letting them know that youБre behind them. Б Eberling is second on the team with 222 digs and a 3. 00 digs per set average, but she also contributes in other ways. БI try to talk as much as I possibly can,Б Eberling said. БI have a good view of the court. БI canБt jump and attack from the back like I was used to doing but they were pretty easy adjustments to make. Б It has been said that the most common question asked at a volleyball game is why is that one girl wearing a different color, its pretty well recognized that aside from staying in the back row and being used as a ball control specialist, it might be to highlight one of the most important defensive players on the court.

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