Just how tall does a libero have to be to succeed in volleyball?
If we look at the Olympic average, the answer would be still pretty tall!
The average height of an Olympic men’s libero is approximately 185cm or 6 foot. The average height of a libero in women’s Olympic volleyball is 166cm or 5’5″.
Does this mean you need to be close to 6 foot to succeed as a libero in men’s volleyball?
Exactly how important is height to a libero?
Let’s take a look at the averages for various levels of the game, as well as discuss just how much impact height has for these players.
What’s The Average Height Of A Libero?
The libero will usually be the shortest player on the court.
What’s perhaps more interesting than the actual numbers is how they relate to other positions on the court.
Average Height Of A Libero Vs Other Positions
During the 2012 Olympics, some really cool data was published about height based on position.1https://www.fivb.org/en/technical/olympics/2012/men/Misc/Personal%20data.htm
What this shows is that liberos were on average 10cm (4″) shorter than the next shortest position on the floor (setter).
That explains why they look like school children compared to the rest of the team when watching volleyball on television!
Middle Vs Libero Height In Volleyball
On average, a middle blocker is going to be over 8 inches taller than the libero which is an incredible height difference.
Average Libero Height In The Olympics
The average height of an Olympic libero has stayed pretty consistent over the years.
The average height of an Olympic men’s volleyball libero is 185cm or 6 foot.
This is based on the height data from the 2012 Olympics as well as the current top 5 liberos in the world who are also 185cm tall on average!
USA Libero Height
The Team USA liberos also fit the bill when it comes to height.
- Erik Shoji – 184cm
- Kyle Dagostino – 175cm
- Mason Briggs – 183cm
Average Libero Height In College Volleyball
Below we’ve got the average height for men’s college volleyball liberos as per the NCSA website.2https://www.ncsasports.org/mens-volleyball/recruiting-guidelines
Men’s College Libero Height Ranges
|Height||5’8″ – 6’2″|
(173cm – 188cm)
|5’8″ – 6’1″|
(173cm – 185.5cm)
|5’8″ – 6’1″|
(173cm – 185.5cm)
|5’8″ – 6’3″|
(173cm – 190.5cm)
And below we’ve got the average heights for women’s college volleyball.
Women’s College Libero Average Heights
How Important Is Height For A Libero?
So exactly how tall does a libero really have to be?
Height Is Almost Completely Inconsequential
The good news is height really doesn’t matter at all for liberos.
The only potential problem would be if you were too tall, which seems like a nice problem to have!
Yes, the average height of liberos is around 6′ for men, but there’s plenty of professional liberos significantly shorter than that.
Shortest Libero In Volleyball
The shortest libero in men’s volleyball is Farhad Zarif of Iranat only 5’5″ (165cm).
Japanese libero Taichiro Koga is only 5’7″ tall and there’s a number of other liberos around this height too.
Can You Be Too Tall To Play Libero?
You can only be too tall to play libero if your height hinders your ability to dig volleyballs.
Usually the best diggers are lightning fast and operate quite close to the ground.
If you’re 195cm tall, are you really going to be able to get down low and dig as well as someone who is 185cm tall, who’s way faster and more nimble?
This is the reason height seems to top out at around 190cm tall for liberos.
That’s not to say you can’t be a successful libero if you’re taller than that, but it’s probably going to be a fair bit harder.
Libero Height Requirements For Volleyball Scholarships
If you take a look at the recruiting guidelines for college volleyball scholarships, they do have some height requirements even for liberos.
For women, you’re realistically looking at being 5’5″ or more.3https://www.athleticscholarships.net/volleyballscholarships.htm
And for men, they want you to be 6′.
If you don’t meet these height requirements, I wouldn’t sweat it one bit.
Any scout worth their salt knows that the impact of height is very minimal for this position.
If you’re out of the height range but are an amazingly talented libero, you’ll absolutely still be able to land a scholarship.
Instead Of Height, Liberos Should Focus On These Areas…
At the end of the day, height is not something you should be concerned about as a libero or defensive specialist.
There’s only 2 things you need to focus on if you want to succeed as a libero in volleyball.
The first is how well you’re able to pass the volleyball.
A libero who can’t pass is like an ashtray on a motorbike: absolutely useless.
The good news is that becoming a better passer is really simple to train…
Assuming your technique is decent, all you have to do is pass more volleyballs.
If your opponents are passing 300 balls a week, find a way to pass 600 volleyballs and I guarantee you’ll become the superior passer very quickly.
Almost all liberos pass the ball fairly well.
The real bread maker for liberos is how well they can dig.
A large part of this is technique.
Some of it is speed and explosive power.
Another part of it is your willingness to chase/dive after any and every ball, no ifs or buts.
I’d strongly suggest taking a good hard look at the greatest libero of all time, Jenia Grebennikov, to see how insanely good he’s become at digging for inspiration.
By now you should understand that height really isn’t that important for liberos.
It’s really only going to be problematic if you’re getting up over 193-194cm in height, at which point you’re likely going to be too slow to be a superstar defender.
If you’re really really short, that shouldn’t be a problem either if you’re willing to make up for it with digging excellence.