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?

6 Steps to Better Practices - Free Guide

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter today and get this free guide to making your practices the best, along with loads more coaching tips and information.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

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.

    3 replies to "Setter Training: Pushing the ball out"

    • Ulrich Froehlich

      Great questions on your site. I have had this argument with coaches and friends. Try setting without your elbows/tricep not possible. Fast hands are really fast elbow. It might not mean that the angle of attack or elbow extension has to be great, but the acceleration comes from the tricep. Second problem is hand positioning, most girls slap at the ball when they should be rounding there hands and doing a counter move at the wrist then accelerate forwards with wrist and elbow. Just like wrist snap on a spike USA volleyball says only 2.1 % of force generated at wrist.. Key word or instruction should be hand contact point and wrist follow-through. A good way of looking at these things as to what applies the force is in almost all contact or max acceleration movements it is the extension of a joint not the flexion of the joint. except softball pitching and bowling I think. Wrist snap is a flexion move, little power.

    • Ken Dufner

      I was taught a stretch-reflex technique setting technique at a recreational volleyball clinic many years ago. As best I can remember, we were told to press the fingers against the ball (stretch) and then let the fingers/wrist/forearms reflexively fling the ball to the target. Could this technique be used to increase setting distance, much as the stretch-reflex technique is commonly used for jump training?

      The only mention I can find now of the stretch-reflex technique as applied to setting is in this 2001 web page: The web page does not emphasize pressing the fingers against the ball, but rather says ‘the muscles in your forearms will automatically contract in a “stretch reflex” when the ball contacts your fingers’. I wonder if intentionally pressing the fingers against the ball would be better or worse than the more passive technique described in the web page. I notice here that you mention hand-to-ball vs ball-to-hand setting. Maybe that addresses this topic, but I can’t find the referenced posts.

      • John Forman

        Hmmm…. Looks like I forgot to actually write that post. Guess I better remedy that!

Please share your own ideas and opinions.