Setter volleyball

In volleyball, a team is allowed to touch the ball three times before it must go back over the net. The setter is the player who almost always makes the second touch. They receive the ball from the defense (usually with an underhand pass) and play the ball (usually overhand) to one of the attackers. In this way, the setter ‘distributes’ the play. The setter chooses which attacker to pass the ball to and tries to make it as difficult as possible for the opponent’s block.

Setter volleyball

Distributor of the game

As the name suggests: in volleyball, a setter distributes the game. The setter often plays the second ball to an attacker using a set-up. Before the set-up, there is a pass. In steps:

In practice, the setter touches the most balls. Good setting technique is important if you are a setter. Other qualities you need to have as a setter include: game insight, motor skills, overview, and high handling speed.

In the dynamic world of volleyball, each position plays a crucial role in the success of the team. Among these, the volleyball setter position stands out as the playmaker, the strategist, and often, the unsung hero of the game. Understanding what a setter in volleyball does is key to appreciating the sport’s intricacies and the skills required to excel in this pivotal role.

Setter in volleyball

A setter in volleyball is akin to a quarterback in football or a point guard in basketball. They are responsible for orchestrating the offense, making split-second decisions that can turn the tide of the game. The primary role of a volleyball setter is to set up the ball for attackers, aiming for the perfect set that leads to a successful spike. But their role extends far beyond this.

Volleyball Setter skills

  1. Ball Handling Excellence: Volleyball drills for setters often focus on enhancing their ability to deliver precise and consistent sets. A good setter must have exceptional hand-eye coordination and a soft touch, allowing them to control the ball’s trajectory with accuracy.
  2. Strategic Insight: Understanding the game’s flow is crucial. Setters must read the opposing team’s formation and exploit weaknesses. They need to be aware of their hitters’ strengths and set the ball accordingly.
  3. Physical Agility: Quick reflexes and agility are vital. Setters often have to sprint to reach off-target passes and still manage to set up a teammate.
  4. Leadership and Communication: As the team’s tactical leaders, setters need to communicate effectively with their teammates, calling plays and making adjustments on the fly.

Volleyball setter position

In volleyball, the setter’s position can vary based on the team’s formation. In a 5-1 formation, there is one setter volleyball strategy where the setter is always the one setting, regardless of their position in the rotation. In a 6-2 formation, there are two setters, allowing for more attacking options but requiring seamless coordination.


To hone their skills, setters engage in specialized drills. Volleyball drills for setters focus on improving footwork, setting techniques, and decision-making under pressure. Watch setter drills here.

The Setter’s Jersey: Volleyball Setter Numbers

In professional volleyball, setters often wear a different colored jersey, similar to the libero. However, unlike liberos, there’s no specific number designated for setters. Volleyball setter numbers are usually chosen based on personal preference or team traditions.

The role of the setter

The role of a setter in volleyball is multifaceted and demanding. It requires a unique blend of technical skill, strategic thinking, and leadership qualities. Aspiring setters should engage in targeted volleyball drills, seek guidance from experienced coaches, and watch professional setters in action to understand the nuances of this vital position. Whether you’re a fan or a player, appreciating the role of the setter brings a deeper understanding and enjoyment of the game of volleyball.

FAQ about the setter

What is the main role of a setter in volleyball?

The primary role of a setter in volleyball is to act as the team’s playmaker. They are responsible for orchestrating the offense by quickly and accurately setting the ball to attacking players. This involves not only technical skill in handling the ball but also strategic insight to assess the best attacking options based on the team’s position and the opponents’ defense. A good setter must have excellent spatial awareness, quick reflexes, and the ability to make split-second decisions.

How does a setter choose which attacker to set to?

A setter chooses which attacker to set to based on several factors, including the current game situation, the strengths and weaknesses of their teammates, and the positioning and formation of the opposing team’s defense. They must quickly analyze the play and decide which type of set will maximize their team’s chances of scoring. This decision-making process requires a deep understanding of each teammate’s capabilities, the dynamics of the game, and the ability to deceive or outmaneuver the opposing blockers.

What skills are essential for a good setter?

Essential skills for a good setter include precise ball-handling abilities, strategic thinking, and excellent communication. They must be able to deliver accurate and well-timed sets to their hitters, understanding the tempo and trajectory needed for each type of attack. Strategic insight is crucial for reading the game and making effective decisions. Additionally, a setter needs to communicate effectively with teammates, both verbally and non-verbally, to coordinate plays and adapt to the evolving dynamics of the match.