U.S. setter Alisha Glass, who started on the bronze-medal-winning team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, often practiced setting the ball by doing the solo drill and partner drill that you will learn here.
For Glass, who was an All-American at Penn State and led the Nittany Lions to three NCAA championships, these simple at-home setting drills improved her release technique and helped her become a stronger, more accurate setter.
“The release is a really important part of setting, and a lot of times we make it more complicated [than it is],” Glass says. “It’s just as simple as, ‘I catch the ball, and then I release it.’ Then you speed it up and set the ball in one move. [Doing these drills] has really cleaned up my follow-through and helped me understand how the catch and the release evolve.”
Drill 1: Lie down, set up
This drill for practicing setting can be done on any surface, including a gym floor, the carpet in your bedroom or the lawn in your backyard. Here’s how it works:
- Lie on your back, and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground. This body position allows you to focus entirely on what you are doing with your arms and hands.
- Start with your arms pointing toward the ceiling with your elbows locked and your hands in setting shape. USA Youth National Team Coach Jim Stone elaborates on setting hand shape in this video.
- Have a partner drop a ball into your hands.
- Catch it, lower it, raise it, then release it back to your partner.
- Do at least 10 reps.
- Stay in the same position. Once again, have a partner drop a ball into your hands.
- This time, instead of catching the ball, use a quick, single motion to send it back to your partner.
- Do at least 10 reps.
Drill 2: Wall sets
Wall Sets are common drills but, as Glass points out, volleyball players sometimes do this drill from only one position – very close to the wall. That’s a good starting point, but to get the full benefit, players should challenge themselves by backing away from the wall as they get better. This requires them to make more game-like sets and pay attention to ball control. It also develops arm and wrist strength which is especially important for young players.
Here’s how the drill works:
- Start about two feet away from the wall and rapid-fire your sets.
- After 10 reps, back up to 4 feet off the wall and continue setting.
- Next, go back to 8-10 feet.
- The farther back you get, the more you’ll strengthen your release and follow-through.
Bonus drill: Add a chair
Another good way to train hand technique for setting is the Chair Drill, shared by Tod Mattox, head coach at The Bishop’s School in San Diego. Mattox stresses “freezing” the hands for two full seconds after releasing the ball. This reinforces the “big hands” that Mattox is looking for when his players set.
Our coaches have contributed a number of great drills that athletes can do on their own at home to practice setting. Click here to view them all!
Other setting drills:
11 player drill for setter conditioning
Ladder setting drill from Cathy George (Premium)
Clapping tip for setter hand position
Rainbow setting drill with John Dunning (Premium)
Figure 8 setting drill from Lizzy Stemke
Setter pressure warm-up drill (Premium)
Set your own schedule
Setting is one of the few volleyball skills you can practice on your own. You don’t need a gym and a net, and you also don’t need a team. Just grab a ball and find a wall, or grab a friend and do some reps. The more you set, the better you get.