Teach “The Turn” - Getting Your Setter To Square Up To Their Hitters

Teach The Turn Volleyball Setting Drill.jpg

It’s currently the beginning of the school season, which means one thing is certain: We’ve all got a LOT of work to do.

Players will always be growing and developing, and even us coaches aren’t as perfect as we’d like to believe. But there’s something I’ve seen a lot of this particular season and I want to help you see it and overcome this lazy play with your own teams.

What is the bad habit I’m seeing?

Many setters are not turning to face their hitters.

I noticed it recently in an instagram video someone posted, and it feels like I haven’t been able to UNsee it in since then!

I get it, setting is a difficult job, and not everyone who gets put in that position is a natural setter. It takes a lot of work to develop the skills to set well!

However, what I’m seeing has more to do with (I’m assuming) a mixture of laziness, passing errors, and limited time for coaches to address the issue.


I went to watch a local high school varsity match the other night and was shocked at how often the setters (both back row and front row) would turn to face the passers and then attempt to set while facing the back of the gym.

I don’t mind this move in experienced setters who are chasing down a ball and have no other option. But in this circumstance? The passes were pretty much right on target and there was no reason for this to be happening. Setting from the side reduces the chance that your set will go where you intend it to, so if you don’t have to do it, DON’T!


As the setter reads where the pass is going, they should situate their body behind the ball. Prior to making contact with the ball, they should also square up to their intended target. I break this down with my younger players by asking them to pretend that there is an arrow projecting from their belly button, and that arrow should be pointed where they want the ball to go just before they make contact with the ball.

The ball should be dropping in front of the setter (not directly on top) so that they are able to step into their set. This is true for both sets in front of the setter, and sets going behind the setter.


Although some causes of not turning could be laziness or lack of awareness by the setter about what they’re supposed to do, another issue could be your team’s passing.

When I was in school, I was taught that a “perfect pass” to target would land a foot or two off the net, and be exactly where the setter was standing.

Now I know better! Often times, this pass leads to setters backpedaling, passes which are too tight to the net, and in general lower quality setting than if the pass were slightly more off the net and more in front of the setter.

Sure, sometimes we’ll take the middle hitter out of the equation. But you can still set strong sets to the outside or right side hitters (and you can still set middles by using a run-through set).

Teaching our PASSERS where to pass the ball (aka, err in front of the setter) can help in getting our setters to turn, leading to better setting overall.


Depending on your assessment of your team, the reason your setter is not turning could be a combination of poor work ethic, lack of knowledge, and poor passing targets. If passing is an issue for your team, start with the “Passing Focus” portion below. If your team’s passing is acceptable, move to the “Setting Focus” drill.


If your team is struggling with this concept due to passing too far to the right side of the court, simply run your favorite passing drill and move the target closer to the middle of the court.

Point out that the target has moved, and give players points for their passes. A simple way to do this would be to assign 3 points for the perfect pass, two points for a pass further in front (the middle of the court), and either one point, zero points, or minus one point (up to you) for a pass behind the setter.

Mark these locations off on the ground with cones, and stipulate that all passes must be at or above the height of the antennae. You could make it a competition (go to 15, 21, or 25 depending on your team’s skill level) to increase the intensity.


If your setter is being lazy or doe not know that they are supposed to turn to face their target, run through a hitting drill with a focus on moving your setter.

Any hitting line drill will work, but you could run Hitting Lines vs Defense to a) increase the touches on the ball your team gets, and b) allow your second setter on the defense side to test their “turning” ability in a more gamelike setting.

When tossing to your setter on the hitting lines side, simply make a point of moving them around (i.e., no perfect tosses, coach!) and give them verbal cues to turn when necessary.

The best part about this skill, is that you often only need to teach it once and then it sticks! Invest 20 minutes with your team to work on this critical skill for improved setting and watch as your hitting percentages climb.