7 Deadly Sins of Hand Setting in Beach Volleyball


Hand setting in volleyball can be a challenge until you’ve mastered proper technique.

We clock a lot of hours every month coaching beach volleyball and it turns out there are 7 common mistakes players make again and again in their hand sets. Overcoming these 7 deadly sins on the court can make the difference between crushing it in a match or getting crushed. 

To help, we’ve put together this video demonstrating the 7 deadly sins of volleyball hand setting, but more importantly, proper technique that puts you in charge of the volleyball – and ultimately the court. So don’t be the player with “dainty lady” hands, or a slapper. A balloon catcher, or ol’ “crab hands.”

Be sure to check out our other beach volleyball training videos for coaching tips from pro volleyball players. Lots of good stuff to learn and review. You’ll find great volleyball drills and clear, entertaining explanations on how to do everything correctly.

Also visit us at Better at Beach or better still, sign up for one of our beach volleyball training sessions. Solid information. Serious fun.

See you at the beach – on the court! 

Video transcript below:

Hey guys, we are going to go over a few setting mistakes that a lot of people make. We coach a lot of beach volleyball hours every month. We'll say that to be safe, but we see some mistakes that are just consistent. Lots of people are making them and we thought this video would help you out and make sure that you're not making any of these crucial mistakes.

Hey wait one second before we get going. Make sure you click below. Click the subscribe button so you can be notified whenever we make a video. Okay. You're good. Sweet. Thanks. We've got a lot of names for the first mistake, so I'm just going to give you all three:

We can call it the dainty lady purse hands or princess hands. Basically, it's when you let your wrist fold over. After you're done setting, it almost looks like you're shooting basketball, but we're not. We're setting in volleyball, so don't set like this. We could call it rabbit hands, too. When you're setting, you want to finish the same way that you start. You start in a ball shape. So that's how we're going to finish. Check out my hands on the finish.

Just in that even ball shape, but with hands together.

The next one that we're going to cover is called the slapper. Whenever you're doing the slapper, it means that you are not thinking about being kind to this ball. You're going up and you're just getting that ball away from you as quick as you possibly can. Let's take a look.

An easy fix for this is to be nice to this ball. Love the ball, okay? So when that ball is coming to you late, love that. Love it. It's okay to let that ball come into your hands a little bit. Cradle it like you would if you're trying to not let an egg break, okay? And then once you've cradled it, then you can push that ball.

Next mistake we see with a lot of beginners is called the balloon catcher. This is when you see somebody running around like they're trying to bring a balloon back from the stratosphere. It's not biodegradable. When you're preparing for a set, you really want to prepare in your catch position, which I like to call the cheeseburger position where your hands are right next to your mouth and that's going to be your catch position right there. If you start too high, sometimes you get a contact up there, you're going to bring the ball down while contacting it and then send it back up and somebody's going to want to call it a lift and then you're going to get into an argument. You don't want you to do that

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The next issue has to do with what we like to crab hands or changing a light bulb. Okay? The issue is that our hands look like this to where our thumbs are coming forward or to mimic what a crab would look like. Okay? We don't want to be a crab.

The easy fix for this is just to pull your thumbs away from the rest of your fingers. Or as I like to say, point your thumbs at yourself. So make sure whenever you're going up to get that ball, you are pulling your thumbs away from you to allow for that nice easy cushion. A lot of this is going to have to do with the inside of that finger. If you never let it touch this part of your hand or this knuckle, it's probably not going to be a good set. So when we have this space, that's what we don't want when we allow it in so that it just barely kisses this part of your knuckle or the inside of your fingers. You hold it on the finger pads. So if you notice my thumbs or back toward my face, allowing for that ball to land very nicely, almost like I'm making my hand into a hammock for that ball.

Mistake number five is called stone hands.

You want to make sure that your hands have some play as if they're acting like a trampoline so that the ball comes into your hands and then out. There's a little optical illusion that happens when people set. People think that they take the ball down with their elbows and then press it back up. It's actually an optical illusion. Your hands receive the ball but your elbows don't bend and then they go up. So there has to be a lot of hand and wrist action to absorb this.

You can practice that set without moving your elbows and seeing how you do.

Problem number six is called the peekaboo. A lot of times when either we don't trust our strength or we're just starting to handset, we really shorten this touch. One thing that we always want to think about when we're setting is we don’t want to give our attacker as much information as possible and when we make this really quick touch and then we pull our hands away, our attacker doesn't really know what they're looking at. So we want to make this set really, really long and we want to have our finish toward where our hitters’ contact point is going to be. One thing that is really easy to relate to an NBA player shooting a free throw. Okay. If they're shooting a free throw, they'll go through their motion and then they'll hold that hand up there as long as they need to and sometimes they'll even walk back to their side of the court. So one thing that we want to think about is really having a long finish and finishing toward our target, not making it really short.

The last one is an homage to my boy Joe. We call it the Rockaway. Lean back, lean back. We want to make sure that we stand tall throughout our set and we approach them off from behind. Most of the time people are leaning back because they've come too far under the ball and their torso or their head once they get them in the right position. Your feet should be doing that for you, so you should step behind the ball and then come forward and through it so that you end up in a nice extended position with your back leg.


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If you want to set perfect every time, keep reading. We are going to help you set with more accuracy, more consistency and more confidence! Get the positioning and the mechanics to control the second touch with a bump set AND with hand sets! You’ll also learn to develop a mindset that makes you WANT to set every ball! NO MORE NERVOUS SETTING. All you have to do is sign up for our Beach Volleyball Mastery. We take you through the basics and then work all the way up to pursuit path, foot sequencing, rhythm and advanced offensive play sets so you put every ball in the perfect spot for your hitter

We’ll show you how to set when you’re scrambling and how to control the ball in the wind. Once inside the membership, you’ll be able to unlock “How to Set in Beach Volleyball: The 30 Day Blueprint for Superior Setting" which will build your footwork and touch from the ground up. It comes complete with footwork and agility drills, solo drills and partner exercises that can all be done at home!

We also include with 9 more skill courses AND our 60 Day At-Home Max Vertical Jump Training Program.

Once you sign up, you'll be able to watch the in-depth tutorials, film your “before” videos, start and film your at-home drills and begin posting to our Private Facebook Group. Then, our coaches will break down your mechanics, footwork and touch at our weekly online meetings. Yes, that means we look at YOUR videos and we coach YOU!

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