During the FIVB Outside Hitting/Serving seminar I attended back in 2015 there were a number of points of discussion. One in particular generated the most intense debate. That was the idea that the best way to go is to set the ball tight to the net. Instructor Mark Lebedew suggested this as the best option. Probably not too surprisingly, there was considerable disagreement.
It should be noted that while Mark has been known at times to say something controversial just to get a reaction, this wasn’t the case here. His three main arguments in favor of tight sets were that they give the hitter more court area into which they can attack, that the ball crosses the net more quickly (less distance to cover), and that it makes it easier for the hitter to use the block.
The US National Team coaches historically have gone the other way with this*. They want the ball off the net. I’m sure lots of others share that view. In fact, Sue Gozansky, who was running the parallel setting seminar at the same time was teaching those coaches that sets should be away from the net. That is certainly the more traditional view.
Tradition isn’t always right, though. So what say you? Tight sets or sets off the net? Tell us what you think and why?
* During the 2018 Volleyball Nations League Mark faced the USA as the Australian Men’s National Team coach. He observed that they were then setting balls tight, which produced difficult to stop attacks, so the philosophy seems to have changed. Later that year I asked one of the USA assistants about it. He denied this being the case.
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