I came across this post from a coach wondering how they can work with their setter to be more consistent.

What are some drills helpful for setting? I have a high school setter who has pretty good hands but she’s struggling with consistency. Especially on the outside. She tends to set the ball either too tight or too far outside the antenna or both 80% of the time. I was hoping to move her to jump setting this year but would I be mistaken to do that before we gain consistency on the ground?

Jump setting

Let me tackle the jump setting question first. This is kind of like the question of when to progress a kid from standing to jump serves. If the player has the physical ability and reasonable hand contact on the ball when setting, there’s no reason not to teach them to jump set. If nothing else, it’s an emergency skill.

Beyond that, though, jump setting generally forces players to get their feet to the ball better. Standing setting is a bit more forgiving in that context. As such, working on jump setting can actually encourage better, more consistent body position when standing.

Now let’s turn to what can be helpful in developing consistency – regardless of standing vs. jump setting.

Feedback

First and foremost, the setter needs consistent, reliable feedback on their set location. Setters can generally judge whether the ball is on or off the net. It’s the too wide/too inside type stuff they have a harder time with. To a degree, how the hitter attacks the ball provides some feedback. But that is limited by the ability of said hitters. A better approach is to use some kind of video delay system. If you don’t have that, have someone standing in an appropriate location and tell the setter the location of each set. This applies to tempo as well.

Focal points

Ultimately, consistency of set location (and timing) comes from consistency of execution. The goal of your setter training is to try to get their execution to be as close to possible to the same every time. Foot position is the same. Posture is the same. Hand position is the same. Set release is the same. This is where everything should start.

Drills

Ultimately, anything that involves setting can serve as a vehicle for setter training. You don’t need some new drill to work on it. You simply need the appropriate focus and feedback. And keep in mind the difference between blocked vs. random repetitions and the training implications thereof. Setting off a pass/dig is ultimately best, but that doesn’t mean you have to do that all the time.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Men's & Women's Head Volleyball Coach at Medaille College, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy (formerly Charleston Academy). His previous experience includes the college and university level in the US and UK, professional coaching in Sweden, and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. Learn more on his bio page.

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