Do you feel like you give up on trying to score after making a bad pass or dig, and just try to keep the ball in the court? Or does a bad pass or dig often lead to you hitting the ball out of bounds? If this sounds familiar, keep reading! In this blog, we're going to tell you how to create a GREAT offense when you're first touch isn't really that good.
Before learning how to attack when you are out-of-system, you have to feel comfortable attacking when you are in-system. You have to have the basics of attacking, arm swing mechanics and approach footwork, down to a tee. Check out our Step-by-Step Explanation of Hitting Technique!
An IN-system pass or dig lands in the front half of the court, somewhere near the middle. It also has to be high enough for your setter to get there comfortably - higher than antenna-height. So even if your pass or dig is high enough, but it lands on one of the sidelines or the back half of the court, that is out-of-system. And, even if your dig lands perfectly in the middle of the front half of court, but is lower than antenna-height that is also out of system because your setter will be very rushed to get there and set.
Sometimes we shank a ball. Sometimes we get a dig, but it's not so great. No player is perfect; it even happens to the best of the best. In this video, we're going to talk about what happens when you pass or dig out-of-system. How do you shape your offense? Where should you go to create the best scoring opportunity?
We are going to divide the net into five equal zones. The zones closest to the antenna on both sides (right and left) will be called "Outside." The zone right in the middle of the court will be called "Middle." The zones in between "Middle" and "Outside" on both sides will be called "Push." So, from left to right along the net, the zones go: Outside, Push, Middle, Push, Outside. These zone names can be used to call for sets to a specific zone. The terms "outside," "push," and "middle" are pretty universal. Some teams number the zones 1-5, or assign each zone a color or other random word. These 5 zones will help the setter and the hitter know where they need to be and where they need to set.
We are going to divide your side of the court into three vertical zones: right, middle and left. When we dig the ball into the back half of the court, no matter what zone, we have to demand that our setter gets that set up to the net, ideally 3 feet from the net.
The setter's job, NO MATTER WHAT, is to get the set 3 feet off the net. When the dig goes to the back half of the court, we do NOT want the defender/hitter to chase the setter, and we do not want them to stay way off the net, or rush all the way up to the net. Because we are demanding that our setter gets the set 3 feet from the net, the hitter still has to move to the correct spot to prepare to hit that set, even though their dig went to the back half of the court. The hitter's job is prepare themselves to get a kill, not just to keep the ball in play. The ONLY caveat to this rule, is if the setter is not able to get their 2-handed platform on the ball. If the dig is so far away or so low that the setter is BARELY getting a touch on it, then the defender should be following their setter to just be able to free ball it over.
Let's say the defender digs the ball in back half of the court, in the zone furthest away from them - the defender is on the left side and their dig goes to the right side of the court (or vice versa). In this situation, the hitter needs to call for a "Push" set. Since the defender is on the left side of the court in this scenario, the "Push" set should go to the zone in between the "Middle" zone and the "Outside" zone on the LEFT side of the court. Again, the hitter is not chasing their setter to the right side of the court.
The further the setter has to set, the less accurate their set will be. This is why, when you dig a ball to the zone furthest away from you, you do not want to call for an Outside set; but, the Push set will actually be easier for your setter to set than the Middle set when the dig is in the back half of the court.
When calling for the Push set, the hitter needs to get out near the sideline (but still inside the court), creating a triangle between themselves, the setter, and the top of the triangle being where the set should land. Now, the hitter can come in at an angle with the set in front of them; this allows for a strong approach and for the hitter to have at least some amount of vision.
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When your pass or dig goes to the zone closest to you
Let's say the defender digs the ball in back half of the court, in the zone closest to them - defender is on the left side and their dig stays on the left side of the court (or vice versa), basically staying right on top of the defender or going directly behind them. In this situation, the hitter needs to call for a "Outside" set. Since the defender is on the left side of the court in this scenario, the "Outside" set should go to the zone furthest to the left, basically to the left-side antenna.
When calling for the Outside set, the hitter needs to get their feet and their body way outside the sideline. Again, creating a triangle between themselves, the setter, and the top of the triangle being where the set should land. This allows the hitter to come in at an angle with the set in front of them, which allows for a strong approach and for the hitter to have at least some amount of vision.
You might be thinking, "wait, do I still get outside if I am right-handed hitting on the right side?" When we are IN-system hitting from right side, right-handed hitters usually move straight forward instead of getting outside, so that the setter can push the set over in front of the hitter's right shoulder.
When we dig the ball in the back half of the court, this kind of goes out the window. We still need to get outside to create these angles, but our angles on the right side just need to be slightly skinnier than on the left side. So, when calling for the Push set on the right side off a dig in the back half of the court, instead of getting all the way to the sideline like you should on the left, you should be a couple steps in from the sideline. Similarly, when calling for the Outside set on the right side off a dig in the back half of the court, instead of getting WAY outside the sideline like you should on the left, you should be just barely outside the sideline. *If you are left-handed, it is the reverse.
How we angle our bodies, or where we face, also differs between the left and right side; however, it stays the same whether we are in-system or out-of-system. On the left side, we want to angle ourselves, or face, the deep cross-court corner of the opposite side of the court. On the right side, we want to angle ourselves, or face, the middle of the endline. *Again, if you are left-handed, it is the reverse.
Now, when you dig in the back half of the court, you have a very specific place to go in order to get your kill. Great setters will put you back in system, that is their job, to be the repairman and fix the broken plays. The hitter's job, again, is to prepare themselves to get a kill. Their job is not to sulk about their bad dig, or to follow their setter and call for a "With You" set. Although the "With You" set may be the easiest option for your setter to execute, your goal is not to just make life easy for your setter; your goal, as a team, is to score a point, and if this means that the setter has to work a little harder, so be it.
Not confident that you can be the repairman as a setter, and fix the broken plays? Want to be the setter that everyone wants to play with? Check out our Setting Master Class: https://www.betteratbeach.com/howtosetavolleyball. 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.
Let's say the the left side passer passes the ball across the court to the front of the right zone, over by the right-side antenna. Now that the pass was at least in the front half of the court, the hitter should be calling for a "With You" or "Straight Up" set. Even though you are calling for the "With You" set, make sure you are not chasing your setter and rushing in; it's more like you are just not getting outside. You want a good amount of space between you and the setter to make a big, strong approach. And, even though you are now hitting from the middle or even the right side of the court, you are still approaching the ball from the left of it the ball is off to your right), so you can use your left side angles to come in hard.
Let's say the right-side passer passes the ball across the court to the front of the left zone, over by the left-side antenna. Especially on the right side, a lot of players make the mistake of chasing their setter in this situation and rushing into the set. Yes, you want to get over in the court as far as you can laterally, but you do not want to rush up too close to the net, limiting your approach. Usually it will be tough to get all the way across the court, so just on the left side of the middle zone is fine. Face the net and call for a "Middle" set. That way, your setter will be pushing the set out to your right shoulder, and you will not have to chase them all the way across the court.
In conclusion, even if you don't have a perfect dig or pass, you can put yourself right back in system, IF you call for the right set and position yourself in the right place. The work you do when you are not touching the ball is extremely important. So be disciplined in your positioning, and you'll be amazed at the offensive options that open up for you!
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