Setting

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Nick Lucena (USA) setting the Mikasa with his shoulders back and his arms parallel to the sand

INTRODUCTION

Setting is equally as important as the pass and the attack.

A great set can enhance a good pass or make up for a poor pass and, a bad set will almost always result in your team loosing the point.

Setting, like serve receive passing, is all about body control – setting takes as much or even more physical effort and mental energy than passing does.

Court position, foot position, body balance, body control and a disciplined mind is the foundation of consistent setting – just like all the other skills in beach volleyball.

TYPES OF SETTING

There are 2 primary ways of setting:

  • Hand (or overhand) setting, and
  • Bump (or underhand) setting

There are specific rules that are strictly enforced that apply to hand setting which make the perception of the hand set to be superior to the bump set – this is merely a perception, not a fact - when either the hand or the bump set are performed correctly, both are equally effective and efficient.

How to Set – Part I of VI – Intro and Body PositionWHERE TO SET FROM

The target for the player passing the ball IS NOT their partner (who is the setter for that specific play) – the target is 1 to 2 m away from where the passer wants to attack the ball from.

Therefore the setter should in no way expect the ball to be passed to them.

The initial goal of the setter is to do everything possible to get their body into the best possible position to set the ball to where their partner can best attack it – no matter where the pass goes.

If the pass is on target, the setter must keep the rhythm of the play moving forward by giving their partner a well placed set to attack.

If the pass is not on target, the setter in no way can give up on the play but must do everything possible to make the play better by setting the ball toward the best possible location for their partner to attack it from.

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The setter is getting her body directly under the ball to hand set

COMMUNICATION

GOOD TO KNOW

The set can enhance, fix, or destroy the rhythm of the play.

Communication before the ball is passed during the serve is crucial to the skill of setting.

The instant you or your partner calls “Mine” or “Yours” as the ball is in the air, the passer and the setter for that part of the play is clearly established.

As soon as the setter for the play is established, the setter needs to start to get into position so they can make the play better with their set.

Unless both players clearly and simply communicate before and during the serve receive there is no chance of consistently performing well placed sets.

SETTING APPROACH

Your first physical movement when setting is to get your feet and body moving in the direction of where you expect the pass to go to.

No matter if it is a serve receive pass, a free ball pass or a dig of a hard driven spike or shot, the expectation of your team is that: the ball should be moving toward the net; up in the air, usually at least 1 m / 3’ higher than the net; on the side of the court of the player who is passing or digging the ball.

This means that your first step should be made with the foot that is furthest away from your partner, across your body and toward the side of the court your partner is on.

Then you open up your body to your partner so you are between them and the net / your body will be facing the sideline rather than the net.

DO NOT:

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  • Stand up before you move - (stay low all the way to the ball)
  • Wait to see where the pass is going to go before you move - (move as soon as you know who is passing).
  • Step straight forward – (step across your body and forward toward your partners side)

Pay close attention to the direction of your first step when setting – it makes a huge difference in whether or not you can consistently get into the best possible position to set the ball.

BODY POSITION

The next part of setting is to get directly under the ball before you make contact with the ball and then use your entire body to set the ball to your target rather than just your arms.

The ball will move in the direction that your body and balance is moving in, not the direction of your arms and hands.

fig6-500-162

You need to be balanced, with your knees bent, with your weight on the balls of your feet, not your heels, with your shoulders back and over your hips rather than leaning forward with your shoulders over your knees and facing the exact location you want to set.

fig5-500-269

Because setting is done with your entire body and not just your arms, your body needs to slightly or sometimes forcefully move toward the exact direction that you want to set the ball to.

When setting with your hands you must have your hips and shoulders directly facing the location where you want the set to go before you make contact with the ball – if they are not, your team will almost always lose the point because you will miss-handle the ball.

Said another way, when hand setting, your hands, arms, shoulders and hips all need to go in the same direction at the same time – which means you need to have your feet balanced and as close to facing the target location as possible before making contact with the ball.

One of the advantages of bump setting is that while you are making contact with the ball you can also be rotating your hips, shoulders and arms in the exact location or your target.

GOOD TO KNOW

As you contact the ball, push up with your feet.

HAND SETTING

How to Set – Part II of VI - Hand SettingIf you get your body into the correct position first, what you do with your hands and arms is fairly simple.

HAND SETTING PRACTICE

Like all the skills in beach volleyball, hand setting takes countless hours of focused practice.

The practice must be disciplined so that the exact movement is being practiced, thus developed into a habit.

Practicing with and without a partner is very important.

INDIVIDUAL PRACTICE

You can practice your arm and hand movement even if you are inside sitting on the floor or on a chair - practice all of the follow techniques:

  • Get your head directly under the ball
  • Your elbows are out wide and at shoulder level or higher;
  • Your fingers are spread wide apart and in basically the shape of the bottom half of the ball,
  • All or parts of all of your fingers and thumbs of BOTH of your hands contact the ball at the same time above the level of your chin.
  • The moment your fingers contact the ball your entire body, arms and hands move upward – the ball MUST NOT continue to move downward or noticeably come to rest / stop once your fingers make contact.
  • Your arms completely stretch up and the ball leave leaves BOTH of your hands at the same time.
  • Your hands stay in the shape of the bottom half of the ball throughout the entire motion.

You don’t need to set the ball too high – this is a great drill to help you get used to the feeling of the ball contacting your fingers and leaving your fingers at the same time.

jonas-reckermann-350-233
Jonas Reckermann (GER) setting the Mikasa

How to Set – Part III of VI - Hand Setting Drills

HAND SETTING DRILLS

When practicing on the sand make sure that you ALWAYS:

  • Face the target location. The target location is approximately 0.5 m / 1.5’ from the net and in line with the attackers approach.
  • Use your legs and push your entire body in the exact direction of the target.
  • Breathe out as you are contacting the ball.

Your feet must be balanced, with your weight on the balls of your feet – do not be flat footed or have your heels in the sand during the setting motion

  • Practice facing and setting to the target location from all areas of the court, not just right by the net
  • The further you are off the net, the more you will be facing the net, and the closer you are to the net, the more you will be facing the sideline.
  • Practice setting balls that have side spin, front spin and back spin on them.
  • Practice moving from different areas of the court, getting balanced under the ball, facing the target location and setting the ball.

HAND SETTING RULES

Just because a hand set ball rotates a little doesn’t mean it was a fault and just because a hand set ball does not rotate doesn’t mean it was not a fault.

fig4-600-88

GOOD TO KNOW

When bump setting, as the ball makes contact with the wrist area of your arms, lightly open up both your hands as you are breathing out through your mouth.

BUMP SETTING

Bump setting is one of the more underestimated skills in beach volleyball.

The value of a consistent bump setter is immense because unlike hand setting, if there is not enough time to face the target location, a bump setter can fully rotate their hips and shoulders in the exact direction of the target location while they are making contact with the ball.

This allows the skilful bump setter to create well placed sets from poorly placed passes and digs that a hand setter could not get into the correct position to set.

BODY POSITION

How to Set – Part IV of VI – Bump Setting

If you can control your feet, body and balance, you can control the ball.

When contacting the ball:

  • Feet can be parallel to each other,
  • Feet can be staggered (one in front of the other)
  • Weight is on the balls of your feet
  • No weight is on your heels.
  • Knees are bent.
  • Shoulders are back and lined up behind your knees so you are not leaning forward.
  • Arms are outstretched in front of you,
  • GOOD TO KNOW

    When bump setting, as the ball makes contact with the wrist area of your arms, lightly open up both your hands as you are breathing out through your mouth.

  • Hands are relaxed and together, thumbs are pointing to the sand
  • Body is balanced
  • Watch the bottom of the ball contact the wrist area of your arms
  • Breathe out through your mouth while making contact
  • Move your balance and entire body toward the exact target without swinging your arms.

Make sure that your entire body follows through and faces the exact target location as the ball leaves your arms.

The lower you can keep your body as you make contact with the ball, the better. If at all possible you want to have your butt lower than the level of where the ball contacts your arms.

lauren-fendrick-350-269
Lauren Fendrick (USA) bump sets with her hands together and thumbs pointing to the sand

The more you move your feet, legs, hips, torso and shoulders, and the less you move your arms, the better you will set the ball / control the ball.

If you want the set to go straight up and down, you move your entire body straight up (in the exact direction of your target) while keeping your arms, still, flat and parallel to the sand with your hands relaxed.

If you want the set to go forward, you move your entire body forward (in the exact direction of your target) while keeping your arms, still, flat and parallel to the sand with your hands relaxed

ARM POSITION

Your arms need to be almost parallel to the sand – this means your arms will be completely under the ball / contact the bottom of the ball.

Your arms need to be very still, flat and relaxed.

Do Not:

  • Swing your arms at the ball – (keep them still)
  • Have your arms angled to the sand - (keep them parallel to the sand)

HAND POSITION

No matter how you put your hands together to create flat even arms for the ball to contact, your hands must be:

fig3-400-333

 

andrea-gonzalo-spn-350-233
Julius Brink (GER) bump setting the Mikasa from below the Swatch net with his arms parallel to the sand
GOOD TO KNOW

When bump setting there is a time to put spin on the ball, but first, learn how to set the ball so it doesn’t spin.

The different ways you can put your hands together are: interlocking fingers with thumbs together; closed hands put next to each other; cupping both hands with thumbs together, one hand under the other; or both hands open, one hand on top of the other, with the thumb of the lower hand lightly griping the upper hand.

fig2-500-192

The more open your hands are when you bring them together, the more surface area there will be for the ball to make contact with.

Pointing your thumbs to the ground will help keep your entire arm surface flat / keep your elbows from bending.

PRACTICE – WITHOUT THE BALL

Using weights while going through the exact motions of a skill greatly helps the mind and body connect and understand what to do to perform a specific movement.

  • Hold light weights in both your hands - 0.5 kg / 1 lb is enough - (You can also use 2 small bottles of water or can of food – anything that you can easily hold onto and has some weight to it).
  • Move through all the steps of bump setting, but without a ball, just with the weights in your hands – keeping your hands out in front of you just like if you where bump setting a ball.

This reinforces the feeling of getting balanced, keeping your arms flat, still and parallel to the sand and feeling your body do the work of moving in the exact target location – without swinging your arms.

Do this practice drill slowly as well as at regular speed - making sure you carefully follow all the steps that go into bump setting.

BALL CONTACT

The ball should contact the wrist area of both of your flat, relaxed arms – not on the hands or the heel of the hand.

PRACTICE WITH THE BALL

How to Set - Part V of VI – Bump Setting Practice
  • Hold the ball in both hands, arms outstretched in front of you.
  • Toss the ball straight up in the air less than 2 m / 6’ high.

    As soon as the ball leaves your hands: put your hands together and point your thumbs to the ground; feet can be parallel to each other, feet can be staggered (one in front of the other); weight is on the balls of your feet; no weight is on your heels; knees are bent, shoulders are back and lined up behind your knees so you are not leaning forward; arms are outstretched in front of you; hands are relaxed and together, thumbs are pointing to the sand; body is balanced; watch the bottom of ball contact the wrist area of your arms and breathe out through your mouth while making contact.

    fig1-500-283

    If you do this correctly the ball will bounce straight up and down on the wrist area of your arms. If you are not balanced correctly or you move your arms, the ball will bounce off to the sides, forward or backward. Do this until you can get the ball to consistently bounce straight up and down on the wrist area of your arms.


    DO NOT MOVE YOUR ARMS OR YOUR BODY when the ball makes contact with the wrist area of your arms during this drill.

  • Do the exact same drill but toss the ball in the air at least 3 m / 10’ high.
  • This time you will have to move your feet a lot more to get directly under the ball with your knees bent, body balanced and your arms parallel to the sand.
    If you do this correctly the ball will bounce straight up and down on the wrist area of your arms.

    If you are not balanced correctly or you move your arms, the ball will bounce off to the sides, forward or backward.
    Do this drill until you can get the ball to consistently bounce straight up and down on the wrist area of your arms.

  • Now do the same 2 drills (low toss and high toss) but this time when the ball contacts the wrist area of your arms – stand up while keeping your arms relaxed and parallel to the sand.
  • If you do this correctly the ball will move straight up and down and will barely rotate.
    If you are not balanced correctly or you move your arms, the ball will bounce off to the sides, forward or backward and will most likely be spinning a lot.
    Do this drill until you can get the ball to consistently move straight up and down and not be spinning.

  • From various locations next to and off the net, toss the ball in the air at least 3 m / 10’ high with lots of spin on it, bump set the ball so it lands within 0.5 m / 2’ of the net and reaches a height of at least 2 – 3 m / 6.5 – 10’ above the net. Also, make sure the ball has very little if any spin on it after you contact it.

Although these drills may sound simple, they take an incredible amount of body control and balance.

SHOT CALL – BLOCK COVER

How to Set – Part VI of VI – Responsibilities & Key Points

After the setter sets the ball their responsibilities are not over. As soon as the ball is set, the setter must take their eyes and focus off the ball and their partner and now do 2 more skills very quickly.

First Responsibility: focus on the defensive backcourt player so you can help the attacker see / understand what the defense is doing. The setter will call out the area of the court of that is open for a shot.

Note: the setter calls out the area of the court that is open to hit a shot, not the area where to spike the ball.

THE MOST COMMON CALLS THE SETTER WILL CALL OUT ARE:
1. “line, line, line”, if the line shot is open
2. “cut, cut, cut” (angle, angle, angle) if the cut / angle shot is open
3. “NO ONE” if the blocker pulls off the net / is not blocking

The calls are to be clear and repeated at least 2 – 3 times.

The call “no one” gives the go ahead to the attacker to spike the ball without any concern of being blocked.

It is very possible that the setter may have to change the call if the backcourt defensive player moves or the blocker pulls off the net – there are many variations of this – some are:

  • “line, angle, angle”,
  • “cut, line, line” (angle, line, line)
  • “line, no one, no one”

Second Responsibility: while the setter is calling out what area of the court is open for a well placed shot, they are also moving into position to get the ball if their partner gets blocked.

The location to be in is slightly behind and to the side of the attacker – this is one of the many reasons the setter and the attacker need to stay fairly close together.

This skill is called covering the block.

key-points

Before and during the play communicate with your partner as to who is passing the ball.
Your first step as a setter is with the foot that is furthest away from your partner and across your body toward your partners side of the court.
Open up body to your partner, get in front of them and on their side of the court before or as they make contact with the ball.
Get balanced and under the ball.
Face your target.
Your weight and balance is on the balls of your feet.
Move your entire body in the direction of your target.
Breathe out while making contact.
WHEN HAND SETTING: Both hands make contact with the ball at the same time, above the level of your chin and then release the ball at the same time
WHEN BUMP SETTING: Your arms are flat, out in front of you and parallel to the sand, your hands are not tight
You watch the bottom of the ball make contact with the wrist area of your arms.
Your arms stay still and you use your body to move the ball in the exact direction of your target.
As soon as you set the ball, you look at the back court defensive player; call out the open area of the court for your partner to place a shot while also moving into position to get the ball if your partner gets blocked.
You did everything possible to keep the rhythm of the play moving forward by giving your partner the best possible set to attack.
robin-seidl-300-450
Robin Seidl (AUT) with his elbows high, wide apart and correct hand placement on the ball
GOOD TO KNOW

When a pass hits the net, to set the ball get your body parallel to the net and below the level of the net, get your arms as low to the sand as possible and allow the ball to come down to your arms before you move your body and arms upwards.

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