How to Set in Beach Volleyball

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Setting in beach volleyball is one of the most important skills in the game because it is the only way to efficiently start an attack. If you just started playing this sport you might wonder how to set in beach volleyball, and what are the rules related to it.

How to Set in Beach Volleyball

Setting in beach volleyball is not as common as it is in its indoor version. This is due to the players being afraid of committing a “double touch” or a “carry”, which are violations of the rules. Because of this, most players use a bump as the safest way to pass the volleyball

However, this technique is worth learning as it could be a game-changer. Understanding how to correctly perform a set will allow you to grow as a player as well as improve your teamwork.

Here are the steps to effectively set:

Three players playing beach volleyball

Square Up and Position Your Body

The execution of your set will be highly influenced by bending your knees and getting into a nice stance. To correctly do this, you must learn specific details about your placement. First, you should maintain a shoulder width of the distance between your feet.

You also need to make sure your body is facing the spot you want to send the ball to. Then, swiftly position yourself directly behind the ball and bend your knees. They are a great way to increase the power of your set. This way you’ll be able to send a more accurate ball.

Lastly, keep your eyes on the ball, and stand straight during, and after the set.

If you fail to do it, the ball could spin, which could be considered a double touch and you would lose the point.

Quickly Plan Your Attack

Planning where you’re sending the ball is a crucial part of the setting. This happens a few moments before you make contact with the ball, or even before the ball is passed to you. Therefore, you must be mindful of your teammate’s position at all times.

Additionally, reading the opponent’s defense is crucial to setting a good ball for your teammate. If you do it correctly, your partner will have a significant advantage that he can transform into an easy point. This is a crucial factor that could help you win a lot of matches.

Lastly, you must consider how you will approach the ball. To set the ball as successfully as possible, you must first visualize a path in your head and then follow it. This approach should be very detailed since it will allow you to set the volleyball in the most optimal position.

Contact the Ball

Here, you would want to push the ball with your fingers as cleanly as possible.

After all, if you don’t, the ball could spin, which is a sign of a double hit for most referees. This can make you lose the point and the right to serve.

To avoid this, you must be aware of your body before making contact with the ball, which is known as proprioception. This feature helps you to perceive your body’s own position in space and effectively set the ball. If you can master this, you’ll be able to put together a good set.

You must also concentrate on your hand.

The contact with the ball will be incorrect if it is excessively soft or rigid, not to mention that it could injure your fingers. To avoid this, you’ll need strong fingers, a flexible hand, and the ability to flick your wrists.

Girl trying to reach the ball

Step Back and Reposition

To accurately set the ball, you must move and search for it; you can’t stay put. However, after doing that, you should quickly go back to your position and be ready for the opponent’s attack.

Everything happens quickly in this sport, so you must remain alert and concentrated.

How to Avoid Carrying the Ball While Setting

When contacting the ball, you need to take special care of your arms. If you drag them backward by accident, the referee might quickly call it a “carry”, which is penalized with a point. To avoid this, keep your arms strong and firm at all times.

Additionally, you should follow through your set by maintaining your arms and wrists completely extended. If you don’t, the ball might spin, which could be considered a double touch. This is why, after setting, professional players frequently pause for a few seconds.

Lastly, avoid touching the ball with your palms. If this happens, it is very likely that you are having extended contact with the volleyball, which is considered a carry violation. This can be easily avoided by keeping your fingers firm and well-positioned at all times.

Tips to Improve Setting in Beach Volleyball

If you want to fully master setting in beach volleyball, there are details that you need to learn that are often overlooked. These elements can improve your performance inside of the court, allowing you to win more matches.

Here are some tips to avoid the most common mistakes:

  • Do not flick your wrists downwards after finishing a set. This can make your set inaccurate and difficult to spike. Try to always keep your wrists firm and in the same position in which you started the set.
  • Do not slap the volleyball. This is a mistake that most novice players commit by being over-aggressive on the ball. Instead, you should gently push the ball with the tip of your fingers. If there is a slapping sound when you set, you might be doing it wrong.
  • Do not overextend your arms above your head. When preparing for a set, you need to flex your arms and keep your hands at forehead height. If you overextend your arms, you are likely to accidentally lift the ball, which can be considered a carry.
  • Do not pull your thumbs forward. This would make your hand too stiff affecting your set. Additionally, if your fingers are too rigid you could get an injury.
  • Do not bend your elbows when receiving, you should only extend them when releasing the ball. If you bend the elbows and then set the ball, it might be considered a carry since you would be throwing the ball instead of pushing it.
  • Do not lean back when receiving the ball. This mistake happens when you put yourself directly under the ball, not behind it. This affects your ability to aim the ball. To avoid this, your back should be pointing straight at all times.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about setting:

A girl playing beach volleyball

Why Beach Volleyball Players Rather Use a Bump Set?

Beach players use bumps to set the ball because bumping is more accurate than doing an overhead pass. Considering the elements that affect beach volleyball (sun, wind, and sand) this allows beach players to effectively set the ball without any trouble.  

How Can I Strengthen My Fingers?

Gaining strength on your fingers can be very beneficial when it comes to setting. You can strengthen your fingers by doing exercises like the finger wall push-up, or by simply training with a hand gripper.


While setting a ball in beach volleyball is comparable to setting a ball in indoor volleyball, there are a few differences that make it a unique action. Learning it will help you have a better understanding of the game and, as a result, you will be able to score a lot of points.

Alfonso Andrade is an avid sportsman, growing up playing soccer and volleyball. He is a coach and sports analyst, studying the game to analyze performance and help create improvement.