Arie 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 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 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.
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! 🙂