If you watch virtually any beach volleyball tournament, and you take note of the teams that are in the quarterfinals, the semifinals, the finals, the rounds you want to be in, you'll notice one major commonality shared by all of them: They set the ball well, almost every time.
Now, of course, there are a number of variables determining or influencing what goes into a good set. The pass is the first touch, making it either exponentially easier or more difficult to set the ball to the intended target. Then there's wind and rain and all of the elements that make beach volleyball so dang fun. However, those elements -- the pass, the wind, the sun, the rain -- are all out of our control. What's in our control is what we do with the ball when it's in our hands.
Our job as the setter is to better the ball, no matter where it is. Good pass? Let's make the set better. Bad pass? Let's give our partner some help and roll it up with some of that fine hand-set nectar honey-butter biscuit sauce (if you've been to Whataburger, you know just what I'm talking about).
So: How do we become a better setter? How can our hands be dripping with some of that honey-butter biscuit sauce?
These three volleyball setting drills will teach you to become one of the best setters on the beach. And the best part? They're easy, require three or less people, and can be repped and repped and repped until your hands are flowing butter.
Walk the Line is a Johnny Cash song, yes, but it's also a wonderful volleyball setting drill, and it's as simple as it sounds: You, the setter, will grab a ball, and you're going to walk in a straight line, setting all the way. As you move forward, you'll decide which foot to lead with -- if you're a right side player, for instance, you'll want your right foot (or net foot) forward. Set 10 times, or however many it takes to get to the end of the line, then turn around and set back to your starting point, putting the other foot forward.
Do both bump sets and hand sets here. While we much prefer hand-setting, both are necessary if you're going to become a complete and well-rounded beach volleyball player.
We've talked about triangle setting before: It's one of the foundational drills for any beach volleyball player, regardless of level. It's simple, just three players needed: One passer, one setter, one hitter. Almost every single professional beach volleyball practice will begin with some variation of triangle setting.
The passer and setter are lined up as if they're in serve receive. The hitter will be at the net on the passer's side.
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The hitter will hit a light down ball to the passer, the setter will set to the hitter, then jog back. Do 10 reps. Rotate. Do this on both sides, so you get reps on the left and the right.
Triangle setting is, in my mind, 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.
Guess what? We love triangle setting so dang much we've put it in here twice! Kind of. This variation will begin exactly the same way as the first. You have a passer and a setter, both lined up in serve receive, and a hitter at the net.
The drill is initiated the same: The hitter will hit a light down ball to the passer, the setter will set to the hitter -- and here comes the twist. The hitter will then set the ball back to the setter, who will then set that ball back to the hitter, getting an extra setting rep. Then you reset and begin again.
Now: Why would we add this variant? If your partner goes to hit, and gets soft blocked, then covers that soft block, guess what you have to do? Set him or her again! This happens at least once or twice per set. It'll prepare you to remain focused even after you set the ball, rather than just looking at all the honey-butter biscuit sauce you just threw on the set.
And even if this doesn't ever happen to you in a match -- hint: it does, and will -- at least you get an extra setting rep in practice out of it.
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