Like any volleyball skill, proper setting becomes more difficult when combined with fatigue and the mental challenge of making a quick decision, so game-like setting drills are an essential part of training.
In this video by Austin Juniors Coach Mike Garcia, you’ll learn a drill that checks all three boxes: setting, mental training and conditioning. It is a versatile exercise that is made up of numerous mini drills to improve setting in volleyball.
Drill: Set and Go
There’s a time and place for setting the ball off a wall; it helps young players develop good touch with the basic catch, release and follow-through motion. But to get to the next level, players must be good at moving efficiently and delivering both long and short sets to different spots on the court.
“Most of the time when you’re setting, you’re not static,” says Terry Liskevych, three-time U.S. Olympic coach. “You have to use foot movement and you have to think about what you’re doing next. Good setting depends on focusing on the next play. Where are the blockers? Where are the hitters? Where is the pass going? Thinking ahead and moving your feet are critical.”
The volleyball setting drill you’ll learn in this video requires players to sprint after they set, much like they would do in a match. They also must pay close attention to what’s going on around them because they have to relocate to five different spots: four setting positions and one conditioning position.
How the drill works:
- Six players participate, but you can add more by having multiple players doing conditioning.
- As you’ll see in the video, four players stand near the net. Two face one sideline, two face the other sideline.
- Setter 1 is at the left pin, facing the right sideline.
- Setter 2 is midway between the left pin and the center of the net, facing the right sideline.
- Setter 3 is in the middle of the net, facing the left sideline.
- Setter 4 is at the right pin, facing the left sideline.
- The other two players are either running the perimeter of the court on their way to replacing one of the setters or sitting on the ground doing crunches or twists for extra conditioning.
- The drill starts when Setter 3 tosses the ball to Setter 1. Next, Setter 1 sets a long ball from the left pin to the right pin to Setter 4, who sets it to Setter 2. Finally, Setter 2 sets to Setter 3 before the pattern repeats.
Think before you set
Setting is much more than a physical skill. To deliver a good, hittable ball, players have to quickly process what’s going on around them and then decide which of their attackers has the best chance of getting a kill. Because of this rapid-fire decision-making, this drill requires players to efficiently coordinate between the use of their brains and their hands, arms and feet.
More than anything, the drill forces them to think ahead. If they’re doing crunches and a player runs over to take their place, they have to circle the court’s perimeter and know which of the four setters they will be replacing. For instance, if Setter 4 (at the right pin) was the last player replaced, the next player replaced will be Setter 3, then Setter 2, then Setter 1. This pattern continues throughout the drill.
As setters get more advanced, they need to develop the ability to set the ball in the opposite direction that the opposing middle blocker is moving. Salima Rockwell, a former Penn State All American and longtime college and club coach, shares a good drill for that here.
Improve the long ball
Another benefit of the “Set and Go” drill is that it requires players to set from pin to pin, which builds arm and wrist strength for longer sets. When setters can deliver an accurate ball from one side of the court to the other, it opens up the offense and gives outside hitters better attacking options.
3 drills in 1
“Set and Go” is a fast-paced drill that makes good use of practice time. Players get lots of reps and a great workout, both physically and mentally. And this drill isn’t just for setters. All players can benefit. A team full of players who can deliver good sets is likely to generate a lot of point-scoring opportunities, and that’s never a bad thing.