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Volleyball Setting Qualities

arie-selingerArie Selinger, Head Coach, 1984 USA Volleyball Women’s Olympic Team, wrote “Setting for the Setter”. He believes the setter is the most important player on the court who’s qualities include: play-maker, architect, decision maker, cooperative, an extension of the coach, perceptive, great mental stamina, leader, hard working, creative, disciplined, crafty, aware, well liked, and inspires trust and confidence.

Chuck Erbe, Head Coach of the 1981 USC Trojans that won the first NCAA Championship, credits his “Thoughts on Setters” to Doug Beal with the following characteristics: intelligence, self confidence, “sponge” characteristic (accepting responsibility), emotional stability, and a disciplined work ethic.

John Kessel’s “The Coach’s Encylopedia” has a section “Thoughts on Setting and Setters” which he too credits to Doug Beal. He believes a setter should have or develop the following four traits: intelligence, self-confidence, “sponge” characteristic, and emotional stability.

John Dunning, Stanford Head Coach, has a video called “Becoming a Championship Setter”; he states a setter should have the following qualities: leadership, hardest working (work ethic), a communicator, a strategist, a student of the game, a psychologist, accountable, consistent, trustworthy, disciplined, crafty, tough, a competitor, a listener and creative.

It is interesting to research these documents and follow the thought process over time. There are obviously many attributes of a setter and these great coaches have mane overlaps. I have found there are three essential mental qualities that should be prevalent throughout all aspects of a setter’s life: confidence, leadership, and intelligence.

Confidence

Confidence is a mental stabilizer. A setter needs to be sure of themselves, carry themselves with the highest esteem, and believe they are the best on the court. Confidence enables a setter to handle the ball mindlessly at critical portions of a match, distribute it to the best hitter on the floor, and their confidence will be infectious to the other players on the court. Confidence allows a setter to take constructive criticism from the coach, deflect negativity from players, and build positive, consistent team chemistry. The setter understands they will not always be a perfect player, understands their weaknesses, but their teammates always believe they are a great setter and have confidence in their sets and as their court leader.

Leadership

Leadership provides focus. The setter has to personally accept the team goal and make it a mission. Through this mission the setter needs to regulate the team standards, manage the team environment, and motivate teammates by being the example everyday of striving towards this goal. The team agreed on the goal and it is the setter’s job to make the goal the first priority. She must not be swayed by negative emotion or opinions of the group when they are not relative to their goal. The setter confronts conflict and resolves issues to keep emotional stability throughout the team. The setter is optimistic, but realistic in their teammate’s abilities and sets the correct hitter (not their favorite hitter) in all situations in order to win a point, set, or match. It is the end result that the team is trying to achieve and it is the setter’s responsibility to make sure the team stays on course.

Intelligence

The setter asserts the coach’s game-plan, thoughts, and ideas on to the court. The setter sets the team offense based on research and percentages, but trusts their emotion and knows when to take a calculated risk. The setter reads the opponents block, defense, match characteristics, and adjusts to the flow of the game and sets the tempo. The setter knows when to push the team, how to direct the team, and how to pick-up the team. The setter will set the emotion and tone on the court that the players will follow. The setter will understand they are the example. The setter must always keep the goal in mind and express it to the team.

In the future, I hope to post those past documents from the great coaches of our game. If you have any piece to share, I would appreciate the opportunity to view them! 🙂

5 comments

  1. This is interesting and of course, I agree. But what do you think the institution of the libero and the modification of ball-handling rules will do to the role of the setter?

  2. This is interesting and of course, I agree. But what do you think the institution of the libero and the modification of ball-handling rules will do to the role of the setter?

  3. Theoretically, the libero should make the setter’s job easier by providing better passes, thus enabling the setter to run a better, more efficient offense. I have heard rumors that ‘they’ are considering the libero be allowed to set in front of the 10′ line. This would put a completely different twist on the libero position. It could cause drastic offensive and coaching strategies, should a coach choose to use the libero as the primary setter. To me it is similar to the DH rule in baseball.

    As for the more lenient ball handling rules, I was against them initially. I thought the game would become sloppy ‘play-ground’ ball, but the intention of the rule was to allow the players to dictate the termination of the play, not the referees. It is much better for fan appeal. You don’t get new fans asking, “Why did that spike not count and the ref is holding up two fingers?”. This past season there were dramatic referee interpretations of the rule, but I’m confident referees will find a common ground.

    The rule actually was helpful to the University of Minnesota Gopher’s Setter, Rachel Hartmann this past season. She played with sprained wrists most the season, and the more lenient calls kept her confidence higher. Her ability to focus and run the offense was that much better because she did not have to worry about tight calls.

    Overall, I’m for the looser hands and I wish they would also adopt a similar rule for the beach. This “catch and throw” setting, doesn’t work for me and few women have hands big enough to consistently set a clean ball under these rules. Hopefully, they’ll lighten up on the beach…err in the sand as the NCAA would prefer us call it.

  4. Theoretically, the libero should make the setter’s job easier by providing better passes, thus enabling the setter to run a better, more efficient offense. I have heard rumors that ‘they’ are considering the libero be allowed to set in front of the 10′ line. This would put a completely different twist on the libero position. It could cause drastic offensive and coaching strategies, should a coach choose to use the libero as the primary setter. To me it is similar to the DH rule in baseball.

    As for the more lenient ball handling rules, I was against them initially. I thought the game would become sloppy ‘play-ground’ ball, but the intention of the rule was to allow the players to dictate the termination of the play, not the referees. It is much better for fan appeal. You don’t get new fans asking, “Why did that spike not count and the ref is holding up two fingers?”. This past season there were dramatic referee interpretations of the rule, but I’m confident referees will find a common ground.

    The rule actually was helpful to the University of Minnesota Gopher’s Setter, Rachel Hartmann this past season. She played with sprained wrists most the season, and the more lenient calls kept her confidence higher. Her ability to focus and run the offense was that much better because she did not have to worry about tight calls.

    Overall, I’m for the looser hands and I wish they would also adopt a similar rule for the beach. This “catch and throw” setting, doesn’t work for me and few women have hands big enough to consistently set a clean ball under these rules. Hopefully, they’ll lighten up on the beach…err in the sand as the NCAA would prefer us call it.

  5. Qualities include: play-maker, architect, decision maker, cooperative, an extension of the coach, perceptive, great mental stamina, leader, hard working, creative, disciplined, crafty, aware…

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