Part of the USA Volleyball Coaches Accreditation Program Level II (CAP II) requirements is that coaches write an article for publication. One such article was posted on the USAV website titled Recipe for a Setter by Peggy Kane-Hopton. In it, Peggy presents what she considers the five key characteristics of a good setter.

  1. Athletic ability and touch
  2. Communication and leadership
  3. Mental toughness
  4. Game understanding
  5. Physical attributes

One might be inclined to merge #1 and #5, but I think pretty much they all capture the main elements. They basically match what I talked about in the post Picking a Setter.

In the first section Peggy says “The setter’s most important skill is the ability to get to the ball.” A quick touch is the next important thing. This reminds me of a question posed to me by a former teammate. He’s now a Division I head coach at our alma mater. A few years back he asked if I would rate good feet or good hands higher for a setter. I said feet, and thus agree with Peggy. He said hands.

In the last section there’s a line that I think is so key.

“The setter must be able to move quickly to beat the ball to the spot.”

Along with setters not actually getting to target, this an issue for many setters. Instead of beating the ball and getting in a good position to execute the set, they time it and arrive at the same time as the ball. This means a less stable setting platform and almost certainly lower set consistency.

The one comment I would have that might be to the contrary of Peggy’s article is that sometimes the mental side of things can offset physical short-comings. A setter’s leadership skills and/or ability to read the game my make up for being undersized, a bit slow, or something along those lines.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Volleyball Director 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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