There are a few main systems that volleyball coaches will implement for their team. There is a 4-2 system, also known as front row setting, where the setter is positioned in the right front area and sets two front row hitters. There is a 6-2 system, also known as back row setting, where the setter is positioned in the right back area and sets three front row hitters. There is also the 5-1 system, which is a hybrid of the other two. The setter is the only setter on the court, and will be positioned in the front or back row depending on what rotation they are in. While each system is effective in its own ways, the 5-1 is favored among many coaches for its tendency to breed consistency and provide two different offensive looks to keep defenses on their toes. Despite its popularity, the 5-1 is definitely not suitable for every team. Before you decide to commit to this, ask yourself "Should I run a 5-1 with MY volleyball team?" Let's consider a few things before you say yes!
1. How many setters do I have?
The first thing to consider when you ask if you should run a 5-1 with your volleyball team is the amount of setters you have and the ability of each one. If you only have one setter, then you might need to run a 5-1 by default. If you have two or three setters that can play defense and run the offense, you have options!
2. Can my setter play front row?
If your setter is too small to be in the front row, or do not have the ability to be an effective blocker/hitter, the 5-1 may not be a useful system since it requires your setter to be in the front row half the time. If you have a setter that can play the front row effectively, do they have the stamina to play at a high level the entire game?
3. What do other teams' outside hitters look like?
A big part of being front row, especially on the right side, is blocking the outside hitter of the opposing team. If teams you play regularly have their best hitters on the outside who can do real damage down the line, maybe having a smaller block is not worth the consistency a 5-1 brings.
4. Do I have more than enough hitters and substitutions?
If you have a deep arsenal of talented hitters, you may want to consider a 6-2 over a 5-1, swapping your setters and hitters when they change rows. If you do go down this route, remember that depending on what level volleyball you are playing the amount of substitutions can vary. Sometimes it is 12, other times it is 18. Understand that running a 6-2 with heavy substitution can burn through those subs quick, and put your team in an unfavorable situation.
These are the main four points to consider when you ask yourself "Should I run a 5-1 with my volleyball team?". While these should be touched on by any coach, every individual team has unique problems they face that don't necessarily fall into one of these categories. If you feel like you could use some extra advice or guidance, reach out for help!