A high school coach asked the following.

I’m having hard time developing new setters. When do you have them do setter work? Do you schedule separate practices or just incorporate into regular practice and if so, when? What part of practice would they miss to do setter stuff?

There are two basic approaches you can take. Which you go with may depend on where you’re setter is at and/or what you want to work on.

Isolated reps

Many coaches, when they think of setter work, think of working with the setter or setters alone. The idea is to get a whole bunch of reps. That means you’re probably working either off a toss, or perhaps off a fairly easy pass. This can be useful for getting the basics down, and for working on something new (see When blocked drills make sense). You can do it before/after practice for some period of time. Or you could incorporate it into practice while the rest of the group is working on something else.

There is a tendency here to overdo the idea of repping things out. Keep in mind that you want quality reps, not just quantity. And you need to make sure it doesn’t turn into something rote the player(s) can do on autopilot.

Live reps

The other way to get setters more reps is to plug them in to games and drills where you might not otherwise have them. Put fixed setters in when you play some kind of Winners game. Have them in when you’re working on serve receive. For example, I often put a setter (and maybe a hitter too) in when I’m running Flip-Switch.

Reps like this, with the more random element of what the pass is going to be like, are inherently better quality than something with very predictable tosses/passes. That said, you still need to make sure the player is focused on whatever it is they’re meant to be working on, and that they’re getting the right kind of feedback.

You may also be interest in my setter training series.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching 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. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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