I came across the following question in a coaching group.

Would you rather your setter (athletic, quick, accurate) in a 5-1 offense hustle to get every single ball no matter where it is on the court (within reason)?


Call for help when the ball is on the opposite side of the court?

This is actually a subject I touched on in my court communication post.

Here’s my foundational philosophy where this topic is concerned. I want to create the best attacking option possible every time. Sometimes that means someone other than the setter should take the ball.

I’m not talking about a setter-out situation where you have a designated second ball taker.

Rather, I’m talking about situations where the distance the setter has to go means they aren’t the player who will create the best attacking option. For example, consider the setter having to sprint to bump set. Do you think the ball they play in that situation will provide a better attacking situation than if a closer player steps in to take it? Not likely!

Which then brings up the idea of calling for help. I would argue that “Help!” should be superfluous. By that I mean the players should all understand the situation and know when someone other than the setter should step in. They shouldn’t need to hear “Help”.

Watch professional or national team level players and see how often non-setters take the second ball without the setter calling for help. They do it because they know they are the person in the best position to make the play.

But I don’t want my setter being lazy

Supposedly lazy setters often come up as why coaches say they won’t let their players call for help. Or someone other than the setter to step in. I’d argue that lack of confidence is often more the problem than laziness. Either way, let’s look at that.

You can quite easily work on the setter expanding their range through individually focused training. By that I mean stuff where there isn’t anyone else to set the ball (e.g. a setter setting to target from a pass). You can then reinforce that range development in game situations by making the setter repeat (via second chance) situations where they should have taken a ball themselves.

Another option is to using a scoring system where the team only earns a point if the setter sets. That definitely encourages the setter to move! It also tends to encourage better passing so the setter can comfortably take the second ball.

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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.

    1 Response to "Setter: Go for everything or call for help?"

    • Kelly Daniels

      I’m not sure how to comment on this post. We agree identically on this topic of non-setter taking out of system (OOS) balls to have the best possible avenue of attack. I also concur on setters are not going to be lazy if non-setters taking the OOS ball.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.