Beach Volleyball Drill of the Week: Set sauce every time with Triangle Setting

There are two drills I would consider as the bedrock of a beach volleyball practice, the foundation upon which a player’s skill-set is based: rapid fire passing – or any type of passing drill; rapid fire is simply my favorite for its expediency and volume – and Triangle Setting.

During the off-season, which was unfortunately roughly 348,190,520 days long during COVID-19, Mondays were what I called “meat and potatoes” practices: We repped out passing and setting, what I consider the two most important skills in the game over and over and over again. Dial those skills in, and the rest of your week, whether you’re playing or just training, is going to be infinitely smoother.

We’ve gone over rapid fire passing before. Now, then, we’ll turn to Triangle Setting.

Triangle Setting is the perfect beach volleyball drill. Players at every level, from beginner to world champions, will (and do!) reap immense benefits from it. It lightly works on every facet of the game, depending on how you rotate the players in your group; there are nearly endless variations; you can get hundreds of reps in half an hour.

If you want a full course on how to become a better setter in beach volleyball, I highly recommend our 30-day Blueprint for Superior Setting!

Almost every single professional practice begins with some variation – and many times several variations – of Triangle Setting. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s done like this:

  • Two players (we’ll call them players A and B) will stand in serve receive
  • One player (we’ll call him or her Player C) will stand at the net
  • Player C will hit a light down ball at Player A, who is in serve receive on the right side
  • Player B will set the ball to Player C
  • Player C will set one ball to himself while Player B gets back to his initial position, then hit another light down ball at Player A
  • Repeat until Player B has set 10 balls
  • Rotate until everyone has set on the right side, then switch to the left side

You can do this on all four sides. I actually highly recommend you do this on all four sides so you get accustomed to setting in different winds. It’s a simple drill, right? That’s precisely the point!

Every player in the drill is getting a benefit. One is focusing on a good arm swing, making solid hand contact at a stationary target. Another is getting good, controlled passing reps. Another is getting setting reps.

If you want to learn how to be a good setter in beach volleyball, this is honestly the only drill you’ll ever really need. There is no need to get crazy complicated or fancy with drills when it comes to the foundational skills (passing, setting, arm swing) in beach volleyball. The old middle school math class adage applies here: Keep It Simple Stupid.

I mentioned that there are endless variations to this drill. I’ve honestly done entire two-hour practices just working through variations of Triangle Setting, because it’s low impact, rep-intensive, and fundamental. You can do one full round using only bump sets, another round of only hand-sets. There’s a minimum of 80 passes, 80 down balls, and 80 sets in a small amount of time.

Go through again, this time doing transition Triangle Setting, in which:

  • Player A will be hitting down balls from the net
  • Player B will be digging in the angle
  • Player C will be at the net as a “blocker.”
  • Player A will hit to Player B, who will dig the ball, ideally to the middle of the court
  • Player C will set to wherever Player B wants to be set
  • Here Player B can do two things: Hit the ball out, making it a little more active of a drill. Or, Player B can set the ball back to Player A. More setting reps!
  • Repeat 10 times, rotate, switch sides

Now we’ve done serve receive setting and transition setting. Another variation? Back sets! Still another? Back transition sets! Another? Make the setting player set a cover ball after his first set.

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Do out of system Triangle Setting.

Run through Triangle Setting.

Out of the net Triangle Setting.

You get the idea.

Sure, drills like these can get monotonous and boring. I’m not recommending you spend two full hours on Triangle Setting; I’m just saying that it’s possible, and you’d get some benefits out of it.

Now that we’re approaching competition season, we typically use Triangle Setting for the first 10 to 20 minutes of our practices, getting our feet moving, our touches dialed, shoulders warm.

But still: It is literally every single practice we do Triangle Setting. Using this as the first drill of the day is the optimal time to do so, because of the amount of touches you’re getting and the fact that you’ll get every type of touch you need. But you could also use it as a light cool down drill, something to ease the legs out of practice.

Either way, I so, so, so highly recommend you add this to your practice regimen.

Previous Beach Volleyball Drills of the Week

Serve tough and win

Perfect your shots with the trash can drill

Master the art of setting

Approach on time, every time

Pass better than you ever have in 10 minutes

Get to EVERYTHING -- even trickle serves!


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