Setting in Beach Volleyball 101

How to Set in Beach Volleyball


Setting can make or break a game of Volleyball. This essential skill can help volleyball players gain an advantage over other teams, and ultimately can help the entire team be more effective. We’ll talk about the importance of setting in beach volleyball, factors to consider, and a few scenarios that may arise.

What is a Set in Beach Volleyball?

When we talk about setting in beach volleyball, we’re talking about a setter setting up the ball–getting it into position so that an attacker can spike that ball properly. There are two types of setting–bump setting, and hand setting.



Bump Setting - Key Points to Remember

Bump setting is basic and safe. This is when you set the ball using your forearms rather than your hands. For many players, bump setting is squarely in the comfort zone–and there’s nothing wrong with that! Hand setting has a few more pitfalls, so we encourage players to stick with bump setting unless they’re consistently able to set 7 out of 10 balls clean, hand setting.

Hand Setting - Key Points to Remember

While handsetting has some daunting potential pitfalls, it also gives you a lot of control in the situation. If you’re able to consistently hand set the ball, hand setting allows you to get consistent results that can translate to more successful hits for your team.


Footwork for setting in Beach Volleyball

Understanding some basic footwork can help you improve your setting game a ton. It’s not all in the wrists, hands, or forearms. Your footwork is crucial, too. It’s important to remember, that when you’re setting the ball–you’re not hitting it into a position, you’re setting it into position. You’ll want to keep loose, and let your knees bend as you get ready to set. Then, you’ll be able to use your entire body to set the ball into position through a smooth motion.

Special Circumstances for setting - Setting in Windy Conditions

One of the great things about beach volleyball is being outdoors and enjoying nature–but nature comes with wind. Consider which direction the wind is blowing from, and how that will affect your set. If the wind is coming towards your side of the court, you’ll need to put a little extra power in to keep the ball where you need it. Conversely, if the wind is blowing toward the other side of the court, remember that it will help carry the ball toward the net and adjust accordingly. By the same token, if the wind is blowing to your left or right, you’ll need to make adjustments to your set.

Perfect Location for Setting in Beach Volleyball

Setting is all about setting up a perfect hit for your attacker, so it’s important to think about location. Where your position is, where they are, and how close to the nest you’re going to want to set that ball.

How tight to the net should a set in beach volleyball be - How to adjust your set for your partner in beach volleyball

Tighter is better, right? Always? The truth is, when setting in beach volleyball, you can’t count on 100% accuracy every single time. You actually want to leave yourself a little bit of room for error. While you do want to keep things tight, and get that ball close to the volleyball net so that your attacker can make a great hit, always consider your margin for error. You’ll want to find a good balance where you get a tight set and leave yourself a little room for error.

What is Legal in Handsetting (and what is not)

Setting rules in beach volleyball can be a little complex, and we did mention that handsetting comes with some pitfalls. One of the major ones is what exactly is and isn’t legal in handsetting. Here’s what is and isn’t legal in handsetting:




  • Letting the ball come down significantly before setting–as long as you’re not lifting the ball and changing the direction it’s going as it comes down, you can let the ball come down low before you make contact with it.
  • Spins–just because the ball spins as it comes up from a hand set doesn’t mean there was a double.

Not Legal:

  • Doubles–this is when you make contact with the ball two distinct times. In handsetting, this is a potential pitfall, but as long as you’re setting in one continuous motion, it isn’t a double.
  • Lifting–this is when you have lengthy contact with the ball and instead of simply making contact and setting the ball, you’re actually changing the direction of the ball manually as it goes back up.

Beach Volleyball Setting Drills

Beach volleyball drills are a part of getting better at the game. And setting is no exception–especially handsetting. Try some of these drills to improve your proficiency:

  • Hand Dig, Set, Set: This requires 3 people–a digger, partner, and third player or coach. First, the coach or third player snaps the ball toward the digger, who will then defend the ball with their hands. The partner then sets the ball for the digger, who sets the ball again–as the digger retreats vertically, for the coach or third player to snap the ball again.
  • Triangle Setting: This also require 3 people–one who hits the ball, one who passes it, and another who sets it again for the hitter. As the name implies, the 3 will stand in a triangle, the hitter closest to the net. The hitter will spike or toss the ball to the passer who will pass the ball to the middle of the court. Then, the setter will set the ball back to the hitter again.

Want to Set like the Pros? - Join Our Complete Player Program

Setting, as a skill, is crucial to the game of beach volleyball. In fact, setting may be more important than passing. By understanding how to set properly, you can become a more effective partner, and increase the amount your team is able to get hits, and change the outcome of the game. If you want to learn more about not only setting, but everything that goes into becoming a great beach volleyball player, have fun, and become a better player, join our Complete Player Program. You’ll unlock a year of individualized training and mentorship from our amazing coaching staff, and tons of other amazing benefits. You can learn more about our Complete Player Program here.

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