I got this from a reader via the Contact page.

Hi John, I am a big fan of your blog and I really think you have a fantastic view and approach to the game. I coach girls rep 13U volleyball, which is essentially entry level right now because the cohort has been set back due to COVID (most rep players start in 11U in Ontario). I am super excited to coach because my daughter has decided she wants to play the game. Music to my ears as a former D1 varsity player.

But, I have an interesting challenge that I could really use your thoughts on. I trained as a right-side (I’m left-handed) and am 5’9″. Both are fine, except that is where my coaching strengths are…developing regular height athletes to be decent volleyball players. I do not, however, have experience in what tall players need in terms of foundation and development, nor am I a setter specialist. My daughter decided she wants to set, and she wants to be really good…and I would really love to make sure her foundation is solid. She is left-handed as well, and is currently 6’1″ (and still growing). How do I build the skills she will need to leverage her size to have a long journey in the sport?

Thank you in advance for your time!

Erica

Tip: If you want to increase the odds of your question getting answered, compliment the blogger. 😀

I’ll start off by pointing out the posts I’ve written on the subject of setter training. They cover many of the key areas important to all setters. They don’t specifically address the tall, lefty setter situation, but most of what setters do is common to them all.

With that out of the way, let’s address the two particular areas where Erica’s daughter can go beyond most other setters.

Blocking

I will not cast aspersions on setters blocking here. They often do better than you’d expect given their usually shorter stature. It’s all about positioning and timing. That said, being 6’+ definitely puts a setter in a different class. Now you’re talking about someone whose block could really influence opposing hitters.

It’s might be a bit too early at 13U to really spend a lot of time on blocking, though. Depends on how often you face hitters who can legitimately attack. Still, you can put the foundational elements in place. Start her working on her footwork and eye progression. That will go a long way toward making her a good blocker later on!

Attacking

You don’t need to be a lefty to attack as a setter. Heck, you don’t even need to be tall! There’s no doubt that being tall and left-handed takes attacking options to a new level, though. You have the full toolkit from the two-handed standing dump all the way up to a full spike. Developing those different kind of attacks is something you can easily start doing now and carry on through her career.

And make sure she spends time hitting like a non-setter! It will make for stronger spiking mechanics and the right kind of thought processes. She’ll also become a strong 3rd ball option when she has to take the 1st ball defensively. And that’s front and back row.

Find role models

The other piece of advice I’d offer is to find examples of other tall and lefty setters. And don’t feel like you have to confine yourself to those who are both tall and left-handed. The idea is to pick out one or more particularly good in at least one of the domains I mentioned above so you and your daughter can watch how each plays. Even better if they’re also a great setter!

Jordan Poulter from the USA Women’s National Team comes to mind as a potential option. She’s 6’2″ and had some eye-popping blocking numbers when she played at Illinois.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Assistant Volleyball Coach at Radford University, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His previous experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US, university and club teams in the UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.