8 tips for the setter

07/20/2023 |

The axis in the system. The pivot point of the game. The setter.  

It is said that the setter is probably the most important position in volleyball. This is not surprising because the setter touches the ball before almost every attack. The setter decides who to play to and who not to. The setter also keeps an eye on the opposing block and knows where their strongest attacker is and where the strongest blocker on the opponent’s side is. In short, the setter is very important. 

But for now, here are our tips on what you should bring as a setter and how to develop these skills. 

#1 Become a Leader 

You do this by providing positive and constructive feedback but also being able to handle criticism well. You achieve this by knowing the system well and knowing what is expected of you and your players. Your teammates should feel comfortable in your presence. They must feel that they can express everything to you. It is better to address something and get better than to say nothing at all. You cannot be the shy, quiet player on the field because the game revolves too much around you and your function. 

#2 Make Your Teammates Better 

Motivate and communicate with your team and always keep a cool head, even when things get tough. This can be quite challenging. If you notice that an attacker is having difficulty, don’t play the ball to them. Or ask them how they would like the ball. In other words, communicate with each other. This reduces pressure during a difficult situation. Try the Chaos Exercise to find out how well you can communicate and motivate. 

#3 Build a Good Relationship with Your Coach 

If you are the leader, you are often seen as “the coach on the field.” Your central role plays an important role in this. Respect your coaches, ask questions about your own team’s system or tactics, or the opponent’s. The more you communicate, the more comfortable you will feel in your role. 

#4 Get to Know Your Attackers 

Get to know your attackers and understand what motivates them. The only way to do this is to consult and ask how they would like the ball played to them. This way, you connect with the attackers. Is the ball good, or should it be played higher/faster? 

A ball for the outside attacker, then one for the middle, and then one over the head. This is a common sequence for setters. They want to play to everyone and distribute the balls more or less evenly to the attackers. This is fine when you’re leading 15-5, but what if it’s 22-22 and you need to win the set? Then it’s important to know who should be played where and when. Each attacker has their preferred position but also faces a blocker. You should know who is blocking on the other side. Does the opponent have a small blocker on position 2, and is your strongest attacker facing them? Then it’s an easy choice!
We’ll give you a few more tips: 

  • Track who is attacking well and scoring points during the set 
  • Know the opponent and know who is blocking on the other side, where is the smallest blocker? 
  • Who is my strongest attacker? 
  • Is my attacker in their preferred position? 

#5 Keep Your Hands High and Always Work on This 

Before you play the ball, your hands should be above your head and in the same position. This makes it difficult for the opponent to read where the ball is going, and you develop “quick hands.” Work on your hand positioning at home against the wall or wherever you can! A good exercise for this is the Double Vision: 

#6 Always Take the Same Body and Hand Position When Playing the Ball 

If you stand still in the right place where the ball is coming before it arrives, you can play the ball from the same position. This way, you can better deceive your opponent. If you bend your back too much, the blocker sees that the ball is being played over the head, which you naturally want to avoid. Prevent this.  

For example, try the setting drills Chili Pepper, Chili Pepper Junior, or Chili Pepper Senior. 

#7 Footwork  

Passing rarely lands exactly where you are or should be. So work on your speed and use a coordination ladder. ‘Rhythm’ is very important for setters. VolleyballXL has visualized the most important exercises for you… To be continued! 

#8 Goal Setting

Ensure you continuously develop as a setter on technical, tactical, and physical fronts, investing ample hours. If crafting a new season plan feels challenging, involve your coach. Collaboratively create a personalized performance plan. Evolve.

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