Setting is a specialist role requiring lots of agility, accuracy and skill. The setter often controls the offensive plays by deciding where the ball should be set and then executing it perfectly. A good setter requires a range of techniques in his or her skill repertoire.
The set is used to pass the ball above chest height. There are various sets that can be used such as the forward set, back set, jump set and so on. In this article, I’ll describe how to perform a simple forward set, back set and jump set. While the description is simple, the development of the skill is difficult and time consuming that requires hours and hours of practice. Obviously, good coaching and instruction will reduce this learning curve.
The Forward Set
Essentially, a set is performed by cradling the ball with all fingers and using a springing action of the wrist and fingers to receive the ball and push it to the target. The extension of the arms together with the spring action of the wrist and hands gives the ball the direction and distance.
Before setting the ball, start with your feet about shoulder width apart and the right foot slightly forward than the left. Lean your body slightly forward and bend the knees about 50 degrees. Have your hands open and about a ball width apart and in front of your chest.
As you move to the ball, try and maintain your setting posture as much as possible. Rotate your body so that your shoulders are facing in the direction of the target.
As the ball approaches, bring your hands directly in front of your forehead and slightly shift your weight to your front foot. When the ball is a couple of inches away from your fingers, move your hands towards the ball to make the set. Contact the ball primarily using the thumbs, index and middle fingers. The other fingers should only be used for guidance and ball control. Extend your arms outwards as your hand contacts the ball. Flick your wrists out near the end of your arm extension.
To increase your setting effectiveness, always try to move into position before setting so that you can perform the best possible set.
The Back Set
The back set is a ball that the setter sets to a teammate behind him. The setter receives the ball the same as he would on a front set. The contact position above the forehead is the same too. The only difference is that the set is quickly set back behind the setters head.
Good setters are able to set in either direction and have their form look exactly the same. If you arch your back and look back over the top of your head, everyone will know that you are going to back set the ball. The blockers on the other side of the net will know where the ball is going and will have an advantage over the hitter receiving the set.
Always square up to the left-front position. This means your shoulders, hips and toes are facing the left-front area of the court. If the pass is off the net and not directly to target, you still want to face left front; however, you set over your right shoulder. Ideally you want to keep your head in front of your elbows and wrists. Extend your body and set the ball to the attacker that is either already behind you or moving there. The arm extension and the follow-through back make back setting different from regular setting. When you are off the net and wish to back set. square up to the left-front position and back set over your right shoulder.
The back set is a more advanced skill. Usually only setters set back sets.
The Jump Set
The jump setting is used at advanced levels more than at beginner levels. It develops a faster attack and confuses the opposing blockers. Jump setting is just like regular setting, but the setter jumps every time he sets the ball, always trying to contact the ball at the peak of the jump. The jump setter should jump for all types of sets.
It is a problem if the setter is comfortable jump setting only to the middle position. Opponents identify this when they scout the team and make the appropriate deffensive adjustments.
As in regular setting, try to jump set all the balls that you set so that the opposing blockers and deffenders can’t pick up on tendencies. Make sure you can jump set balls that you are sending outside, back and to the middle. This takes a lot of repetition and practice.