April 21, 2014

Question from Australia - Yes, Australia!!!

Hi there,

I am coaching a Women’s team in Australia. We play in the NSW State Competition. Currently we are doing trails and trying to get a balanced team in order to have our best shot at winning the competition this year. We have one setter who is very keen and enthusiastic she is shorter and lacks some skill and another is not able to play this year. I have been trying to identify another option for us with the players I already have. I have a tall left handed hitter that I want to try and turn into a setter. I also have an older slower hitter who has good hands.

My question: How is the best way to identify someone who could be a setter and then what should I do to accelerate her development?

I am really interested in your opinion and also any book or articles you think I should read.



Thanks for your email and happy to hear that my collegevolleyballcoach.com reach goes on the other side the equator and hemisphere.  I would be doubly proud if my book, Inside College Volleyball also made it that far south!!

When considering a setter for rally score volleyball, it is about two specifics; delivering a good/hittable set to the hitter, and then making the best choice of which hitter to set.  As simple as it sounds, that is all you should be looking for.  Rally score games are very quick, and a couple of poor sets or poor choices, can translate into a loss.

Determining who has the ability to deliver a constantly good/hittable ball is relatively easy - Just have them set in hitting lines or position drills and observe how consistent they are.

Determining which setter makes the correct choice is a bit more delicate, and takes review of the player in competitive situations, along with coaching them to make the correct choice.

Of the two, a consistent/hittable is the most important; the wrong choice, but still a good set to a hitter has a chance to be a kill. The right choice of hitter, but a bad set, still has a chance to be a negative attack.

One last point, very rarely do you want to take a good hitter and make them a good setter - Rally score puts a premium on having elite level attackers over elite level setters.  Your first concern as a coach is your Outside Hitters who can attack and pass, your second concern is your Libero/DS's to ensure/support your successful passing, then be concerned with the setter and your last concern is probably your MB's - Just find a couple who can block as to establish the defense, and occasionally put away a set.

Good luck!

Coach Sonnichsen

1 comment:

  1. Great response Coach Sonnichsen

    One of the things I think we misunderstand about setting is that it requires accuracy. Accuracy is not the same as 'good hands'. Remember, as coaches we should always back ourselves in to be able to teach the right player to be accurate and have 'good hands'. The second point about good choices is also critical. Setting to the right person at the right time is teachable, but some people definitely pick it up much more easily.

    On this last point, the mental and emotional traits/skills of a setter are critical and need to be a big (and undervalued) part of any evaluation process. Players who are smart, fast thinkers and decision makers, have empathy, are leaders (not cheerleaders) have a head start to be a good setter. Players who are ok not being the centre of attention and genuinely enjoy the success of the team also have a head start.

    Regarding tall left-handers, there have been some very good tall, lefth-anded setters. But my feeling is that, at best, the number of very successful left handed setters is comparable to the number of left-handers in the world (very roughly 10%). And this is despite most coaches for the past 20 years wanting to convert tall, left-handers into setters!


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