Hand setting in volleyball is one of the hardest skills to master. Check out the video linked at the bottom of this blog to see some of our Better at Beach players working on hand setting with Coach DJ and hear his feedback! “Volleyball is mechanics," he explains. "It’s getting used to doing the same motion” over and over again in order “to get more reps [the correct way] in a row." This will train your body to do it correctly every time (or at least more often than not). So what are the proper mechanics for hand setting in volleyball? Keep reading to find out!
Your hands should be in ball-shape before you ever touch the ball. You should not have to quickly change the shape of your hands right before you set. Make a diamond with your two forefingers and thumbs, then spread your hands apart so they are wide enough apart that your palms will not touch the volleyball in between your hands, but close enough together so that you can hold the ball with both thumbs, pointer fingers and middle fingers. Your hands should be firm but relaxed, fingers open, and ball-shaped (your hands are just a little basket for the ball to fit perfectly into). Your elbows should be wide enough to keep your thumbs far apart and wrists flexible; when your thumbs get underneath the ball, they get in the way and make the setting motion very awkward.
These are the basic hand setting mechanics. If you want to learn EVEN MORE information and gain access to instructional videos for setting in volleyball and plenty of setting drills to practice, check out our Setting Master Class: https://www.betteratbeach.com/howtosetavolleyball
Your feet, hips and shoulders should be facing towards where you want your set to land; this is what we call “squaring up.” We often see players facing sideways, perpendicular to the net. This will usually lead to your set being too far off the net. You want to lead your hitter forwards with your set, putting the ball in between your hitter and the net. The easiest way to lead your hitter is to face your target, squaring up to the antenna, before you set the ball. (Squaring up to the antenna is a standard starting point, but this may change based on where the pass goes, where your hitter wants to hit from, or the direction of the wind.)
Furthermore, if your body is facing the direction that your set is going to travel in, it makes it easy for your hitter to predict where the set is going to go; thus, it is easier for them to get their feet to the ball and generally produce a better attack! Sure, you can face perpendicular to the net and then side-set to get the ball towards the net, but this creates a harder set for your hitter to hit. Your goal as a setter should be to make your hitter's job as easy as possible.
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The weight or momentum of your body should be forward, pushing into the ball. (Ever seen Phil Dalhausser set? Almost every time, he falls forward, ending up on his knees after the set leaves his hands). Imagine an arrow going through your body, starting at your hips, going up through your chest, and the point of the arrow coming out of the top of your head. You do not want this arrow pointing straight up towards the sky; you want this arrow to be pointing diagonally, slightly forward in front of you.
If your torso stays straight up, you will either set straight on top of your own head, or even behind you. By keeping your weight forward, you can easily push the set away from you. This makes it simple to run different types of sets (such as a "push" or "pin" set) while looking the same, so the opposing team cannot predict your set.
Your arms should be fully extended at the end of your set; your elbows should not be bent. We call this the Superman Finish because your arms are extended out in front of you above your head, like Superman when he is flying. And, you should hold our arms in this Superman position for what feels like a long time (in reality, it is maybe just 1 full second) after the set leaves our hands.
Holding your finish promotes a long, slow contact. You do not want to get rid of the ball too quickly; you do not want to pull our hands away right as the ball leaves our hands because that promotes a fast touch on the ball. Fast touches are less consistent and less repeatable (and this applies to passing/digging and bump setting as well as hand setting).
Check out Coach DJ providing some FANTASTIC hand setting feedback to these Better at Beach players.
We've given you all the basic mechanics for hand setting. Do you want to learn about bump setting? Do you want a more in-depth explanation on what setting even is? Check out our other blog, "How to set in beach volleyball: A comprehensive study on the art of setting" - https://www.betteratbeach.com/blog/how-set-beach-volleyball.
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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!
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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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