My volleyball college recruiting book project partner, Matt, had a question come in to his blog. A reader asked about helping players get more distance on their sets.This ties in with two of my prior setter training posts on hand position and weight transfer. Matt makes the following comment:
“The key for distance setting with control, is quick hands. The faster your hand motion, the truer your target line and the further the ball will fly. Slow hands which rely on a leg push for distance are very inconsistent in length and line. You don’t want the setter to punch the ball, but rather get it out of her hands as quickly as possible.”
If you’ve read Oliver’s comment on my hand position post you’ll know he made the observation that minimizing the movement of big joints helps with consistency. Large joints have the potential for asynchronous movement (read uneven extension of the limbs). This is right in line with Matt’s observation that relying on leg push makes for inconsistent sets. That’s part of why I train weight transfer rather than leg push.
Of course not all players can set effectively just using fast hands. They lack the physical tools. For some, it’s a question of growth. For others it’s a question of training.
With a physically weak setter, it makes sense to move the joint sequence to the point where strength is sufficient. So if wrists alone can’t do the job, then bring in elbows. Have the setter bend their arms as much as is required to get sufficient set distance. Then focus on good follow-through for the sake of consistency (superman). As the player gets stronger in the wrists, have them use a progressively higher contact point. That means less elbow involvement.
If the player still cannot push the ball outside using elbow extension, then we have to start bringing the body into play. Again, this should be done in as limited a fashion as possible. Otherwise you end up with things like players jumping through the ball or piking their butts backwards when trying to push the ball across the court.
Ideally, the body of a setter is just the vehicle which gets them into position to execute the setting skill. We’d rather not have it involved in the actual set execution if possible. As with wrists/elbows, you should be thinking in terms of getting the player away from using the body as quickly as possible as their strength develops higher up.
As we’ve no doubt all seen, it’s really hard to break players of bad habits and bad techniques. To the extent that you can limit the amount of time your setters spend using lower body elements we’d rather they not use in the long run to get more distance in their sets you make life easier for yourself (or their next coach) in the future.
If you enjoyed this post, have a look at How do you train setters?