There are certain drills you run at practice throughout the season because they get your team moving, cheering, and they’re relatively easy and fun…
This is not one of those drills.
So, why would you want to read more? Because! This is a drill you only need to do ONCE and you’ll have a new team. This is a drill that inspires those *click* moments that I live for as a coach.
This drill is particularly effective at teaching young setters (think 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade) how to set along the net, instead of to the hitters.
A Little Backstory
One thing that used to drive me nuts as a coach would be when we would go through hitting lines off a toss (I’d stand in right front and toss a few balls to outside, middle, and right side hitters), and then I progress to using a setter and they wouldn’t set anywhere CLOSE to where I had been tossing the ball.
The setters, despite repeated instructions to set along the net, would set directly to my middle (or outside, right side, etc) and there was no room for an approach.
How many of you are familiar with telling the player to “set to the spot, not the person,” getting a head nod, and then watching them set to the person over and over.
It can be infuriating haha.
That’s when I realized that I needed to change how I was teaching my setters to set to the spot.
Instead of just telling them where to set, I started explaining the area of the court where I wanted to them to set as a bowling lane. If they can visualize that they need to keep their set in the lane, they have a better idea of where the set needs to go.
But, you can take it once step further! Some players learn through verbal instruction. Other can read a whiteboard and learn. But some need to be shown exactly what you’re talking about while you’re on the court, and this is where the other two techniques fail.
I like to use the flat spot markers and outline the “lane” where I want the ball to be traveling in the air. I swear, as soon as I get this far, there’s no going back!
This inspires the *click* moment for a few reasons.
They can now see with their own eyes what the heck you are actually talking about.
They get feedback via the markers after each set. You don’t need to verbally correct them and pause the drill to give feedback. They can see it, so you can go faster.
The hitters now have an expectation about where the set will be, and peer pressure tends to be one of the best teachers out there.
After you get your setter setting the ball in the right area of the court about 75-80% of the time, it’s time to make them move!
Make It More Challenging
Toss the ball off the net and have them run to where the ball will land, turn so that their bellybutton is pointed to the spot they want to set to, and then make contact with the ball (opposite for a backset, arrow from their bellybutton through their back to the target).
This is more challenging because you’re not using the lanes, necessarily, but you can still see if the ball is landing in the right area for the set.
Go through this with all of your setters, and you should see the quality of sets go up right away. Again, you should only need to do this drill once! After your players understand the concept of where to set the ball, all you’ll need to do following this practice is to remind them to set in their lane.
Good luck, coach!