I will start with something I picked up from my coach: “Simple is better than complex.”
The reason for this is that more complex drills require higher cognitive abilities. They can be effective, but it also means less focus on actual techniques.
The five essential aspects of volleyball setting drills are hand control, footwork, waist movement, vision, and awareness.
You can flexibly adapt the following setter drills with more incredible difficulty. They are highly effective and suitable for novices, experienced athletes, and even coaches.
Table of Contents
Fun Warm-up Setting Drills
Before starting the game, you can do some related set drills to warm yourself up.
These workout drills can help you get into gear.
Setting Drills for Beginners and Advanced Players
When you start getting into the setting drill for volleyball, keep this in mind:
We don’t expect that you’ve arrived here fully formed. We expect you’ve arrived here ready to learn.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player, nailing down the right approach can make a difference.
Let’s dive into a comprehensive setting of drills, each tailored to refine your skills.
As a setter, your connection with the ball is crucial. The more you finesse your wrist and finger movements during sets, the more your shots become stronger and more precise.
1. Enhancing Your Wrist and Finger Flexibility
Get comfortable with the ball and work on the elasticity, agility, and range of motion in your wrists and fingers.
Remember that your setting game should involve actively using your wrists and fingers to strike the ball. This coordination will get you a smooth, flexible setting.
Below are some excellent drills for you.
Set to Self
- Begin by standing in a ready position with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Toss the ball upward and position your hands to form a triangle, fingers and thumbs, creating a stable platform.
- Set the ball back up to a comfortable height using proper hand positioning and aiming for a consistent trajectory.
- Gradually increase the challenge by varying the power and height of self-sets. At the same time, you should focus on maintaining a controlled and accurate set.
When you set to yourself, keep in mind setting the ball 4-5cm off your fingers instead of way up, as smaller but faster repetitions work better.
By doing this set-to-self drill, You can build the feeling of the initial contact with the ball without setting a ball coming from higher up.
- Stand about 3–5 meters from the wall, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Toss the ball towards the wall and position your hands to execute a clean set, aiming for a specific area on the wall.
- Observe the ball’s trajectory and make real-time adjustments in hand positioning and timing.
If you want a consistent setting, you can set the ball to a specific spot on the wall. Then, change the distances between you and the wall, and continue to work on the set consistently.
You can do wall setting progressions with variations on setting different heights on the wall. If you want to learn more about the self and wall set practices, more details are in the video above.
High and Far Sets
Pair up and set the ball to each other from 8–9 meters.
Quick Flat Sets
Work in pairs or set to a target with a distance of at least 7 meters, setting fast and flat chest-high balls back and forth.
2. Enhancing Ball Control
Once you understand the feel of the ball and the sensation in your fingers and wrists, you can improve your control over the ball.
You should grip the ball with all ten fingers, ensuring a snug encasement of the ball.
Below are some excellent setter drills.
- Pass or bump the ball above your head with your forearms and hands.
- Move down to a sitting position while you keep on the set.
- When you reach the sitting position, you can set the ball 10 to 15 times from the ground. Then, start to get back up to standing while setting the ball.
The ball will go all over the place unless you concentrate on keeping control of the ball.
Above Forehead Volleyball Setting Drills
You can prepare a small cone and a ball the size of a tennis. Let your partner toss the ball to you, and you hold the cone to position yourself under the ball with your hands.
Self-Set to Back or Side
In pairs, set to self overhead once, then turn 180 degrees and set to back, or turn 90 degrees left or right and side set to the partner.
Self-Set & Jump Set
In pairs, set to self in place, then jump to set to the partner.
When you set the ball backward, you can push the ball back with your thumbs instead of outwards with your fingers. But you still want your hands to finish parallel, with your palms facing up.
When you can control the ball well, you can set faster by speeding up your wrist movement.
To execute a perfect set, form a triangle with your thumbs and index fingers. This will provide a stable platform for the ball. Remember to ensure the ball contacts the forehead.
A flawless set doesn’t end with the contact. A smooth and controlled follow-through is essential.
It would help if you eliminated the arm movements. Extend your arms after contact and direct your hands to the target. This action contributes to accuracy and control, which are crucial in setting up your team for a powerful play.
You can make hands and arms parallel when you follow through the set to the target.
When you set the target, remember to speed up the wrists straight out before you.
Take a look at these volleyball training to improve wrist control.
3. Benefits of Using Weighted Volleyball
Weighted balls are an excellent way to make hands softer and improve wrist strength, speeding up your hands and wrists. It also helps you set further.
When you use a regular ball, you will feel the ball lighter. It will be easier to set with speed, and you will rely less on the strength of your legs to push the ball to the targets.
You can choose training balls which weigh around double the weight of a standard ball. 500g is something you can set with over longer distances. You can feel it in your arms after you set the ball up and down with them a few times.
Incorporating weighted balls adds a strength-building dimension to setting drills:
Set to Self With Weighted Ball
- Use a weighted ball for solo sets, focusing on enhancing strength and power.
- Increase the weight as you build strength and maintain proper form.
Set to Partner with Weighted Ball
- Use a weighted ball in partner drills to refine control, strength, and precision.
- Emphasise consistent and controlled setting with added weight.
Set to the Wall With a Weighted Ball
- Integrate a weighted ball in wall-setting exercises to enhance control, strength, and accuracy.
- Focus on maintaining proper form and control with the added weight.
You can do this set drill at home with a weighted ball to strengthen your wrists. If your forearm and hand muscles are slightly burning, It means you’re working muscles that aren’t used to working that hard or for that long.
Remember to begin with lighter-weighted balls. Then, increase the weight as you build strength and maintain proper form and control.
Being a setter demands swift footwork, sudden stops, shifts in your center of gravity, and quick direction changes. Skill in stepping, jumping, and turning is essential.
If you get stuck in a rut, you can always return to basics. And the basics always start with your footwork and how and when you arrive at the ball.
1. Footwork on the Move
Focus on speed and control when moving and changing your center of gravity.
What you need: Switching directions and moving your center of gravity effectively.
Below are some excellent setter training.
Within a 2-meter Line
- Within a 2-meter line, move from position 2 to positions 3 and 4.
- Then, turn from position 4 towards positions 3 and 2.
- While performing general hand setting actions, archer step setting, repeatedly back and forth.
Outside the 2-meter Line
- Move towards various directions from position 2.
- Perform one setting action when turning and changing direction.
- You can change the drill by increasing the height of the set.
You can modify the setting footwork drill in different ways to make it more difficult.
- Consider starting away from the net and then let your partner set to you, who has to run and get the ball. Remember you have the proper footwork, face the right way, and use your legs.
- Have yourself go to the back row, throw a ball at the ground so it bounces somewhere you must run and set it. You should get your feet there and face the right way. The bounce can be a perfect pass or a bad pass.
2. Coordinated Hand and Footwork Drills
By enhancing the coordination between your hands and feet, you can boost your setting efficiency.
Based on the judgment of various incoming balls, you can use short, crossover, and sliding steps to start quickly. Hurry and accurately set the ball when facing an incoming ball.
Below are some excellent set drills.
Setting Along the Net
- The coach throws the ball from behind.
- Two players perform rapid forward and backward settings at the net.
- Each player sets twice and then takes turns.
Blocking and Turning Set
The coach throws the ball from behind, and players perform bare-handed blocking at the net, then immediately turn and set various incoming balls.
Back-Row to Front-Row Set
The coach throws the ball from the back, and players transition from the back row to the front row to set to a specific position.
Long Distance Sets
- Partner up and maintain a distance suitable for practice.
- One player tosses the ball to the other, focusing on quick reactions and effective footwork.
- Execute clean and controlled sets while adjusting to the distance and timing of the toss.
- Two partners throw balls close to the net.
- Start from the position you usually do the serve receive.
- Run to the net like the ball was served before the ball gets there.
It would help to find out exactly where the pass is coming from. It’ll raise your awareness away from the ball.
Side to Side
- Move laterally while setting back and forth with your partner.
- Focus on quick reactions, synchronized movements, and consistent hand positioning.
- Maintain eye contact and fluid exchanges, adjusting to lateral movement during sets.
Setting While Moving
In pairs, set while you are moving parallel.
Low and High Set
In pairs, one is positioned at the net, and the other moves and sets according to a front low ball or a rear high ball from the partner.
If you want to set a ball higher with power, the footwork and hands are crucial.
If you are not there to get under the ball enough, the power will gone. So you need to focus on a quick, smaller step and make your feet leave the floor with a small jump to get some leg power for your sets. Your hands will also work together to make the ball go farther.
A great example of encouraging movement is Brazilian setter Richardo, who worked his feet very well when moving under the ball.
You can do a drill like this one:
- Three receivers stand on the back row
- The coach or players serve from the opposite net
- You set the ball to the receivers. Get as many repetitions as you can.
Ensure proper footwork, an upright posture, and continuous visual tracking of the ball’s path during each drill.
Remember to focus on keeping the ball in the sweet spot of your hands for adequate control, as well as setting with good body positioning and footwork.
As a setter, you must be agile and ready to move swiftly to reach the ball. Position yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your body balanced. You can prepare to react to incoming plays at any time.
Control over your waist movement and balance is crucial. Waist movements like tucking in, shifting, and stretching become the key.
In addition to combining waist training with various technical actions, let’s dive into specific training methods to boost waist and hip flexibility.
The aim: Enhance flexibility in the waist and hips with the following exercises.
Below are some excellent setter drills.
Shifting Weight Left and Right
- Stand with feet parallel, slightly wider than shoulder-width, knees bent.
- Lower the center of gravity slightly.
- Shift weight left and right without moving the feet.
Shifting Weight Forward and Backward
- Stand with feet front and back.
- Lower the center of gravity slightly.
- Shift weight forward and backward in place.
Jump Setting at the Net
- Players stay at the net’s position 2
- The coach throws the ball from the back row to the net’s position 3.
- Players run along the net, jump, turn, and set the ball to the coach. Requires arching back motion.
Vision in Volleyball
Yes, some people have good hands, but it is not just that. It would be best to have good situational awareness of distance and the court, even behind your head.
For setters, a wide field of vision is vital. Could you observe the positions and movements of teammates on the court?
Goal: Broaden your field of vision.
Combine footwork with setting practice, focusing on hand actions and emphasizing waist movements.
Below are some excellent setting drills.
Partner Set With Hand Signals
- Players A and B set the ball from 5-8 meters.
- Before each set, observe hand signals made by the side coach and immediately respond. Ensure the player maintains a clear view of the ball while considering other factors.
Wall Marking Drill
Players A and B face the wall and set against the wall while identifying marked areas using peripheral vision.
Indicated Setting Directions
- Player A sets to the wall from a distance of 3-5 meters
- Player B stands in the side front of A, signaling before each set.
- Player A observes the signals with the corner of the eye and adjusts the setting angle accordingly.
- If B moves in the direction of A, Player A sets a high ball; If B moves away from A, Player A sets to self then sets the ball to partner; if B stands still, Player A makes a flat set.
- Players A, B, and C do different-angle sets according to signals.
- For example, one finger represents a high set. Two fingers represent set to self and set to partner.
- When Player A tosses the ball to B, Player B should set the ball according to the signal from Player C.
- The drill can help develop the seter’s attention to the incoming ball while observing the movement of other players on the court.
As a setter, you must reflect what you observe clearly into your mind. You can analyse the relationships between people, the ball, the net, and the space and time. This enables you to make timely and accurate judgments. Then, you can take corresponding technical actions to seize the initiative in a match.
Training awareness is indispensable and should be integrated throughout technical training.
When training the hand’s control, besides reducing mistakes, you should pass the ball to the appropriate position based on the situation.
This requires considering the ball’s release angle, the highest point. Awareness must be present and rise with the improvement of hand control.
Besides learning techniques, you can learn to use awareness. The goal of training should be specific, allowing you to judge in confrontational drills.
Whenever you’re doing these drills, always think about how you can set to make the team get the point. No matter in a way that opens up for hitters, making receptive actions, or hitting the ball yourself.
How to Be a Better Setter
A Good Mindset
Mindset is the most critical thing you should always put first.
Don’t worry about your training process, and rush your set drills. Even famous Olympic players will continue working on the basics, as those drills are the stable foundation for a setter.
Practice, Repetition, and Dedication
Developing exceptional setting skills in volleyball demands dedicated practice and a diverse range of drills to enhance technique, adaptability, and decision-making.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
Common mistakes can hinder the effectiveness of your sets, such as double contacts, poor hand position or footwork.
Gets Double Contact
Sometimes, the set gets called for double contacts, no matter which position you are from, 1 to 3. You can look for a weighted ball drill that might quiet your hands.
Set the Ball in Front of You
When the ball comes to you, you don’t set it over your head. Instead, you let it drop. And set it in front of your body. This will give a significant signal to the opposing defense that setting the ball backward is not going to be an ideal position. You can practice the bone and ball above forehead setting drills focused on accuracy.
Run Fast and Get Under the Ball
One of the other common mistakes is when the setter goes for the ball, and he often has to run fast, get under the ball and set with an overhand pass.
In moving to the ball, some setters make the mistake of taking a long class and stopping quickly. This is less of a mistake than running through the set because when you touch the ball, your body is no longer in motion.
On the other hand, this is still a mistake that will significantly affect your setting game. If you brake hard after a long step, you will not be able to make a quality set behind your back.
You also won’t be in a stable position. All your weight will be on your right foot, which has to slow down the total weight of your running body, and that’s where inaccurate sets will come in.
Source: AVCA Volleyball
How do we eliminate this mistake? We can do a setting drill at game speed, like in the above video. Focusing on timing, maintaining consistent hand positioning, and refining your footwork.
How to Practice Setting Volleyball at Home
When you want to do setting drills at home, the following are some good practices.
Set to a Target Net
- Set up a designated target area on a net or wall at an appropriate height.
- Toss the ball towards the target, focusing on directing your sets accurately to the marked spot.
- Maintain consistent hand positioning and trajectory control to hit the designated target repeatedly.
Set to the Bottles
- You can find some empty bottles.
- Please put them in the specific positions you want to set the ball to.
- When the targets are ready, toss the balls in the air, set them around 8ft above the bottles and land on them.
Also, you can strengthen your wrist and hand with a weighted ball at home while doing wall-set drills.
Looking for more volleyball setter drills at home? You can learn a lot from the above video.
Whenever you feel stuck in a volleyball setting, you can get out of it by focusing on the basics.
Coaches should help players to strengthen their awareness besides physical and technical training.
All these five aspects are the most fundamental elements. The relationship among them is:
- The hand is critical.
- The foot is fundamental.
- The waist is pivotal.
- The eye (vision) is the guide.
- Awareness is the soul.
They interact and influence each other. So, comprehensive drills for volleyball settings require a high degree of unity among the hand, foot, waist, eye, and awareness.
So, grab your volleyball, gather your friends or teammates, and dive into these drills. Take the opportunity to develop your skills, adaptability, and decision-making. As a volleyball player, setting exercises serves as the backbone of your game, shaping not only your technique but also your understanding of the sport’s dynamics.
Keep the passion alive, keep practising, and never forget—each set brings you one step closer to becoming the setter you aspire to be.