The recruitment of a libero is typically a marathon, not a sprint. Liberos are the toughest and usually the last position to be recruited. Not only are they competing against every other libero, but also small pin hitters and setters. We asked a few of our excellent college coaches from every level, what they look for in a libero.
Energy. The most common thing we heard that college coaches are looking for when scouting an athlete. The libero is always on the court unless it is her one play she is required to sit out. She needs to be the spark plug of the team. Work ethic is contagious, and if the libero is doing her job, she is sparking the team on defense and motivating everybody on the court. She is always someone everyone can look to for support, leadership and bringing the team up when they are down.
Hustle. Hustling to cover the hitter and get back to base defense. Hustle to get the tip up. Hustle to chase a shanked pass. Hustle to help a teammate off the floor. Hustle, hustle, hustle all the time. Remember, work ethic is contagious.
Serve-receive-pass. Passing a three ball so the offense can run the system with all options available is more important than a libero being great at defense. When a coach has seen a libero play lights out defense, it always comes back to, “can she serve-receive-pass?” I’ve been asked this question more than any other, from college coaches about the libero. With the libero being back in every serve-receive play they do not want her to be an easy target. Typically, libero’s tend to be easier targets since they wear a different jersey from their teammates.
Consistency. Does the libero get her angles on her platform to manipulate the ball where it needs to go? Does she have a variety of ways to play a ball? Everybody gets out of position or gets caught moving one direction when the ball is touched off the block and changes paths all of the sudden. Can she get her platform around the ball and make a good pass in that situation?
Serve. A libero must be able to serve tough. All other positions have a particular skill or two that a coach looks for that usually does not involve the serve. But with the libero owning the back row, she needs to have a consistent, tough serve that will score points.
It is very common for a libero to commit her junior, or senior year, depending on her level. It is also common for a libero to only receive a full ride scholarship at a Division I school only for two of her four years, and it is usually the last two years of her eligibility. Remember, DI can only offer full ride scholarships. A DII or NAIA school can provide a specific dollar amount to the libero for four years since they are allowed to split up their scholarship money as they see fit.
So, what’s the best way for a coach to see a Libero? A video is great and will grab a coach’s attention, but it is hard to know how hard the serve is or how hard the libero is striking the ball. Video can be very deceiving. A coach may like an athlete on video but will want to see her in person during a practice or match if permissible. Sometimes they’ll have her on campus for a tryout or camp so see how she does against current players or coaches serving or hitting at her.
Do you have what it takes to be a college libero?