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Overview of Setter Responsibilities

THINK AHEAD: As a setter, you are responsible for knowing the tendencies of the other team – offensively and defensively. Do not run the middle just because it is a perfect free ball pass. Do not dump just because it is a tight pass or you’re late in transition. Make sure you eye-check and use your peripheral vision when running plays. Good setters change the flow of the game constantly and make the middle move as much as possible. During the start of the match you should be looking through the net to see who is a weakness on the block; tall blockers (make them move), small blockers (make them jump). Most successful setters call and execute crossing plays on serve receive. Make their middles MOVE while making your hitters successful. Ie: If your best hitter passes serve receive on the back side and she struggles hitting back there, call a play in front for her. If your team is struggling to pass and you cannot get in system to run the ideal play, see the bad pass, communicate and deliver a HITTABLE ball. You and your hitters should have an understanding that they become audible out of system.

Always be analytical of each practice/match - Think about whom you set and when you set them, think about what your goal was during each rally or side out, and always think about how you would like to improve your offensive system. Did you set the hot hitter during crunch time? Did you make the best decisions on poor passes? Setters have to better each ball and need to evaluate themselves at the end of each practice and match. I suggest keeping the communication lines open with your coach to make sure you are running the offense as expected. Remember, as in anything, overthinking things is never good and setters need a clear mind to run the show.

PROGRESS: You’ll know more your freshman year of high school than you did in 8th grade and more your senior year than in 9th grade and if you are fortunate enough to play collegiately, you will look back and realize how little you knew when you thought you knew it all. It just takes time to know how to run an offense, when to feed the hot hitter, when to ride the team, when to hug your team, and how to hold your composure when things aren’t going your way. No matter what, you have to get better with each touch. Setting is a technical position and there has to be emphasis on technique day in and day out. Even the best setters in the world work on basic footwork and technique. This is something you MUST do and hold yourself to a high standard when doing it. Believe it or not, perfect reps can really boost your self-confidence as well.

BE CONSISTENT: Setter’s need to be consistent when delivering the ball. For quick sets, the ball needs to be in the hitter’s window consistently and for high balls the ball needs to be placed in the same location specific for each hitter. This means you have to develop a routine when transitioning to the setter target, remember the correct footwork to each ball, and your hands must be able to adjust if your feet cannot get there. For example, a tight ball has to be touched on the right side (net side) first whereas a perfect pass has to be touched under or behind depending on which set is being delivered.

Being consistent emotionally is a very important thing for a setter as well. I often tell setters to remain on a “straight line” emotionally. If you’re emotions change, they should go UP. Setters should never get down throughout the match or practice. Celebrate the highs and learn from the lows. This is a game of passion and emotion but don’t let yourself go to a negative place when things aren’t going your way. You should have a good short term memory and be able to self-talk. The momentum in volleyball changes so fast, you will often find yourself playing worse if you allow yourself to reach such lows and highs. Remember to demand a lot out of your teammates, but never negatively. Be CONSISTENT with your body language, your relationships with your teammates and most importantly, your work ethic and energy.

ASK QUESTIONS and SHARE INFORMATION: The setter must lead the team in every aspect. If you are asking questions and actively learning during practices and matches, not only can you do what coach asks of you, but the rest of the team will do the same. Setters are expected to run the show and be the “quarterback” of the team. Therefore, they must be coach-minded on the court. They have to take the information/strategy from the coach, implement it, and then push others to do the same. They need to be reminding of their match ups, be aware of where the other team’s best hitter is.

BE VOCALLY CONFIDENT: Setters must know how to confidently talk to the team. They need to be focused and keep their composure at all times when doing so. The setter has to lead by example. Being confident and relaxed, yet intensely focused on the task at hand, can spread like wildfire throughout your team. Learn the game inside and out. If you know the game, you can then talk openly on the court and share the information before or while it happens. This will give you a presence that cannot be ignored.

BE A THREAT: Setters need to be thinking of the best possible offense at all times while still executing the other things. Every setter needs to be respected. If you are a “sprinkler” type setter – one who just sprinkles the ball to all hitters trying to be fair, you will not gain respect from the other team. A front row setter is an attacker before they a setter. Is the short dump there? Is the long dump there? If not, then set your hitters from the inside out. You will find this will keep the defense guessing and the blockers and defenders will start to miscommunicate and most likely be out of system. Although, you may not score, you have taken them out of system therefore; you will most likely see a weaker ball returned. Setters in the back row can dump as much as the setter in the front row. You just need to develop deceptive ways to execute these different types of attacks. Remember, not to be TOO offensive minded. If you dump too much, your hitters will think you are losing confidence in them, the other team will eventually figure it out, transition into a free ball play and you will lose the rally which will lead into your teammates losing faith in you as the quarterback.

Make good DECISIONS: Do you realize when the other team is commit blocking on your best hitter? Do you know who is struggling and who is HOT? Do you understand who to set early in the match versus late, when you have a big lead versus when the score is tied? Do you know who to set to get the side out after a 3 or 4 point run? These are things you need to know to be the best you can be for your team.

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