Getting good production out of your middle blockers depends on a lot of factors, but one of the biggest is how well they mesh with the setter. We asked Cary Wendell Wallin, a former NCAA Player of the Year at Stanford who is now the Director of Player Development at 949 Athletics in Orange County, California, to offer some coaching points on developing chemistry between your MBs and your setter. In this series of videos, she covers 3 key sets: the "One," the "3," and the "slide."
To help her demonstrate, she recruited 2 talented club/high school players from Orange County, California: setter Leila Mohammadi (a junior at Northwood High School in Irvine) and Tera Detels (a junior at Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita).
Below, you'll find the first part of this series: the middle-setter connection for the "One" set.
The 'One' set
The "One" is a good set to start with for less experienced players because it's easier than the "3" and the "slide." Here, Cary narrates as 2 top club/high school players demonstrate: middle blocker Tera Detels and setter Leila Mohammadi.
- How to use your arms to help your jump.
- Big, loose hands for contact.
- The crosscourt hit that goes to the right back corner.
Get up early
For good execution on a "One", the middle has to be in the air when the setter has the ball in her hands. Obviously, that makes the timing tricky, especially for less experienced players. Here, Cary talks about what middles need to do to find a good rhythm with their setter.
Approach tight to the setter, jump off the net
When hitting the “One,” Cary coaches middles to come in tight to the setter and jump a little off the net – about a foot – so the setter can put the ball a little bit off the net. This helps prevent the attacker from having to take more of a sidearm swing, which is lower and less effective.
Setter positioning for setting the quick
In this video, Cary talks about where the setter should be in relation to the middle blocker for the "One" set. She also touches on the importance of where the setter takes the ball in relation to her body – not too low, not too high.
Setter-middle rhythm when pass is off the net
If the pass isn’t perfect, it can be a good opportunity to set the middle because the block-defense won’t be expecting it. But to make it work, the middle and the setter have to be in sync. Cary offers tips here on what middles and setters need to do to make good connections on passes from various locations.
Open body for middles
Here, Cary talks about how important it is for middle blockers to open their upper bodies and get a lot of torso rotation. This gives the setter a wider range of places to set and adds range and power to your spike.
Yell for the ball
It's important for middle blockers to yell for the ball on the "One" so the setter knows they're available. This not only helps the setter, it forces the other team to pay attention to the quick set, which helps open things up for the outside hitters.
No 'Blades of Glory'
As Cary explains here, swinging your arms too high in front of you as you begin your jump motion can make you late to the ball when jumping for a quick set. Instead, middles should keep their arms lower when beginning the backswing that helps propel their jump.
Set location to attack what the defense is giving up
In this video, Cary talks about ways the setter can locate balls that give the middle a better opportunity to attack an open spot on the court. She also highlights a good hitting strategy for not-so-great sets.