Setter Out: A Drill for Setter/Libero Practice

One of the worst feelings as a coach is when you watch your team struggle with something you FORGOT TO TEACH THEM.

“Setter out” is one of those things. Most coaches think they can just say “Setter out!” and then their players will get it. While the concept is simple, players will need to practice this skill before they fully understand what you mean.

The best part is… this is one of those * CLICK * skills that, once players understand, they’ll be unstoppable!

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I like to run this as a player-initiated drill (meaning I just stand off to the side and coach) instead of entering the ball myself. This gives my players a chance to work on their ball control and uses my favorite teaching method (peer pressure) to make sure they’re doing it right!


To run this drill, I like to have at least five players. Usually this means 1-2 liberos, 1-2 DS’s (for the advanced variation) 2-3 setters/right backs, and a coach if necessary.


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I place players as follows (check the Drill Diagram for a visual):

  • 1 Player to Send in Downballs (Any Position, RB Is Easiest To Start With)

  • 1 Setter In Right Back For Defense

  • 1 Libero (I Have Mine In Left Back, But You Could Do Middle!)

  • 1 Target At Outside

  • 1 Shagger/Hander To Get Ball From Target And Place In Ball Cart

I like to keep a ball cart near the coach/player entering balls to make the drill go faster and keep up the energy.


DOWNBALL TOWARDS SETTER: Have your initiator enter a downball in the direction of the setter. The setter will then pass the ball high and to the middle of the court, giving the Libero time to transition from “defense mode” into “backup setter.”

SETTER PASSES HIGH TO MIDDLE OF THE COURT: A higher pass also allows hitters to adjust back for a better angle, and gives a little wiggle room for error while your team is learning this skill. Older teams/teams with more experience can bring the height of the first pass down to speed up the offense.

LIBERO PASSES HIGH AND OUTSIDE, OFF THE NET: Outside is usually the best option for where this pass/set should go. The next best would be right side/opposite, and then I would recommend middle back as the third option. The LAST option would be to send the ball to our middle front, who would have to do some very peculiar ballerina moves to get this ball over.

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TARGET TAKES AN APPROACH AND CATCHES BALL: We want out players in the habit of taking an approach, and this will give the rest of the team feedback on how to adjust their passes. It also teaches the libero to pass to a SPOT, not a PERSON.


Run about 10-15 reps before rotating players. Keep it as high energy as possible!


What I love about this drill is that there are a TON of variations! Here’s a few to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Enter the ball from various positions (left front, middle back, etc.)

  • Have your target tip the ball back to the hander

  • Have your target take a full swing at the ball and add shaggers

  • Have the full team on the court and practice transition from defense to offense (really helps middle front know to STAY OUT OF THE WAY!)

  • *ADVANCED: Add a middle back and mix up hits. Setter will need to determine if they are setting or passing (more game like, work up to this variation!)