Setting is giving an assist. This is generally the second pass during an attack. It is essential that the ball arrives at the right height so that the attacker can use this pass to push the ball over the net. Let’s take a look at how this is done.
How to get it right: technique
In most instances, an overhand pass is used. Let’s take a look at how this is done below:
A lot of beginners want to use the palm of their hands to pass the ball but this is not optimal as you don’t have a lot of control over the ball in this way. It is important to be prepared to receive the ball. You stand on your toes and hold your hands ready to do this.
An underhand pass is often used to set as you can push the ball higher and this makes it easier for the hitter to attack. You hold the ball on the underside and on both outer sides. Then you push it high in the air so that it is easy to push the ball over the net.
Getting your footwork right is essential as players often lean too much. This makes it harder to control the ball. You have to anticipate where the ball will land and walk in that direction. You have to bend your knees as well. A lot of players don’t bend their knees enough.
There are also several training aids that can help you to get the correct hand position for setting. This are no magic solutions and you still have to put in the work. A great drill is to pass to yourself. You can also invite some friends and you keep passing to each other until someone drops the ball. The goal is to increase the speed over time so that you are used to quick ball touches without losing control over the ball.
Communication and team work
There is a special role for this on the court, called a setter. Often there are 2 setters per team but in some strategies, there is only one. Every player on the court has to be able to set though as the setter might be unable to pass the ball. Players have to communicate when they pass to each other. Let’s take a look at a drill to get better at this:
A rally generally goes like this in volleyball:
1/ The libero (or defensive specialist) catches the ball using a dig or dive.
2/ The libero passes to the setter. The setter has to be aware of what is happening around them so that they are able to receive this pass. In some instances, the setter might try to block the ball at the net so they have to switch from defense to offense in an instant.
3/ The setter passes (sets) to the hitter that attacks and pushes the ball over the net. The setter and hitter communicate so that the hitter knows that the ball is coming their way. In some instances, this is verbal or nonverbal communication (such as hand signals). The setter needs to know the preferences of the hitter so that he or she can send the ball at the desired height and speed.
This is the best way to work as it allows a team to slow the ball down after an attack, control it and find the best way to attack. It is not always possible to work in this order. For example, the libero might struggle to stop the ball. The setter will then receive a difficult pass. This makes it harder to control the ball and in some instances, the setters might even use their fists just to keep the ball in the air. This makes it difficult for the hitter to attack. This can happen a few times during a match but if teams are not able to work in a more orderly manner, it will be difficult to win the match.
Reading the defense
Being able to coordinate an attack is an essential skill of the setter. This requires a lot of insight in the game as you need to know where the players on your team are standing and also see how the other team is moving. For example, if an attacker is out of position, the setter has to pass to someone else. This can be a challenge for a lot of setters as they have a very specific approach in mind. It is something that you will need to be able to do as volleyball can be unpredictable. Newer setters will not be able to do this as they are still going to focus on getting the technique right. This is for more advanced players, such as college level.
It is also possible to see what the defenders are doing. This can allow the setter to see if a block is coming or not. For example, if the middle blocker is right in front of the setter, it can be a good idea to pass the ball to someone else. The setter has to be able to adjust the pass in the last moment and notify the hitter that the ball is coming their way.
A setter has to make sure that there is some variety in the attack. A lot of teams use the same attack over and over again and this makes it too predictable for the defense. For example, it is also possible to fake an attack or to give a no-look pass. These things can make it harder for the defense to know what will happen. If the setter is looking at the hitter the whole time, the other team can predict the attack and adjust their strategy.
The position of the setter on the court has a big impact on how the attack flows. Generally, it will be the setter that is closest to the net that is going to pass. Given that players rotate over the court, this can change during the match.
Drills to improve setting
To improve your setting, you just need a ball. A great drill is passing to yourself by pushing the ball vertically in the air. You keep doing this for several minutes on end. You can also use a wall to pass against. This can make it more unpredictable. This drill will make sure that you use the right technique. Notice where your hands and feet are. You might need to repeat this for several weeks until you fully master this and it becomes an automatic reflex. You don’t have a lot of time when you are playing volleyball and therefore the correct hand positions have to be used without thinking.
You can also ask some friends to come over and pass the ball to each other. You can start slowly so that it is easy to get started. After a while, you can speed up the passes so that you have to improve your passing skills. This can be challenging at first and you might drop the ball quite often. That is OK as you will get better over time. Keep motivating each other so that you will get better at it.
The best drill is organizing a match. You will need a net to do this. Often you can find one in a local park or in the sports arena. Practicing on your own is always different than doing it during a match as there are more things going on. This is my favorite way to develop my skills as it doesn’t feel like a boring drill.
Don’t overcomplicate things and if you perform the discussed drills every day, you will become great at setting. A lot of players want to have a ton of drills but this is often just a distraction. Focus on the basics and you will become a great player. YOu can also take a look at how other setters work. This can give you some insights in how they attack.
To conclude, we can say that setting is an essential part of volleyball. Every player has to be able to do this and players should practice this every week. It involves a lot of skills, from technique to communication and insight in the game. These things develop over the years so be patient and keep working.