1. The Setup
This drill is a great way to work on a number of the key aspects of setting. It emphasizes getting to the ball quickly, squaring up, deception, and can aid in decision-making. You will need five players (or two players and three coaches) to run this drill correctly. The setter will begin at right back. There needs to be a target at both the left and right side hitting positions. Place a passer at middle back and a coach on the opposite side of the net at middle front.
2. The Execution
To begin the drill the coach will overhand toss the ball to the passer, and the setter will release and run to their starting spot on the net. The setter will react to the pass and line themselves up under the ball. The coach will then call out a set location. The coach can start out by calling outside or back. The player will react to the call and deliver the appropriate set. To challenge the setter even more you can call go or red. You can also wait longer and longer to give them a call.
Once the setter has gotten comfortable with the drill ask the passer to move the ball between five and 12 feet off the net. This will require the setter to get to the ball quickly and also forces them to square up to the outside pin. If they do not square up they will have a difficult time delivering a consistently hittable set. Never forget as a coach or setter that properly located sets should always be the first priority.
3. The Benefits
I have found that setters will often time the pass, which can limit the number of hitters they can set. When a setter gets to the ball early it becomes easier to connect with (ideally) all four hitters. The middle hitters will be able to determine their line of approach quicker and the setter will have a better chance of connecting with them and the other hitters.
A good setter can make an average pass look like a good pass. This drill should train setters to be able to accomplish that challenging feat. One other benefit of this drill is the mental side. Setters will often predetermine their location or allow the pass to dictate where they set. As a setter I was best when I got to the ball quickly and made decisions in the moment. It’s good to be aware of your match-ups and the success of your hitter in that match, but you don’t want to be making your decisions before you see the pass. I think that a good setter should be able to deliver a hittable ball to all the attackers in a variety of different situations.
A: Positions at Drill Start
B: Setter ‘betters-the-ball’ off an errant pass
Originally published in March/April 2011