How to Properly Set in Volleyball

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When playing volleyball, setting could be one of the most basic, yet crucial, parts of the game. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro player, knowing how to set a volleyball can truly make a difference. I found amazing tips about it and thought I could share them with you.

Learn the Basics of How to Set a Volleyball

Square your body and get under the ball. Keep your fingers strong and your hands soft. When the ball contacts you, straighten your arms, push with your legs, and flick your wrists. Don’t let it touch your palms. The contact should be as brief as possible.

Playing volleyball together

Those are the basics of how to set a good ball. Even though mastering the art of setting takes much more than that, these principles will always be present. No matter what you do, if you don’t have a good skill base, your performance as a setter might get stuck.

Learn the Aptitudes and Characteristics

The setter is the player who could be known as “the coach on the floor” as it is not unusual for him to be the court captain. This is due to his high influence on the flow of the game. He runs the team’s offense, controls the ball, and serves it to the strikers.

Because of that, the setter needs to have certain aptitudes and characteristics to perform well. Here you can see ten of them:

  • Strong communication skills.
  • Able to make quick and smart decisions.
  • High energy and stamina.
  • Good leader.
  • Hard worker. You will be receiving and setting balls all day.
  • Able to receive and share constructive ideas.
  • Self-confident. If you can’t trust yourself, neither can your team.
  • Able to move fast (This might be why setters usually have a smaller physique).
  • Ability to understand the game, its strategies, and the different types of sets that can benefit said strategies.
Able to make effective decisionsHigh
Natural leaderMedium
Good understanding of the gameHigh

Control the Way You Hit the Ball

Even though the striker wouldn’t care if the ball is spinning, you have to pass the ball as clean as possible. For most referees, a whirling ball is a sign of a double hit. This will be point and side out awarded to your opponent, so this should not be overlooked.

Volleyball setting control

To avoid this, there are drills that will help you control the ball and you have to be mindful about how you square up before contacting the ball. If you don’t have a firm and stable position, then you will not hit the ball correctly. You have to fully control your body and safely hit the ball with enough power.

Additionally, you have to focus on your hand. If it is too soft or too rigid, the contact with the ball will not be correct (and it could probably hurt you). To avoid this, your fingers need to be strong, your hand needs to be flexible, and you need to flick your wrists.

Plan Quickly, Move Efficiently

As I mentioned before, planning where you’re sending the ball is a crucial part of being a good setter. This happens seconds before you contact the ball, or a few moments before the ball is even passed to you. Hence why you need to be aware of your teammates’ positions.

When attacking, the setter is crucial. He needs to read the opponent’s defense and set a good ball for whichever striker is best positioned. If done correctly, the striker will take advantage. Throughout the game, the setter should always be examining the opponent.

Lastly, your footwork needs to be correct to adequately approach the ball and contact it. For this, you might want to keep your weight on the left foot and transfer it to the right one as soon as you touch the ball. Keep your forehead and hips in a vertical line.

Plan Quickly, Move Efficiently, Be Aware of Your Movements and Their Strength

As soon as you contact the ball, the only movements your arms should do are forward. If you mistakenly pull them backward, then the referee might call it a “throw.” To avoid giving a point and a side out to your opponent, keep your arms firm at all times.

Once you’re finishing your set, you should follow through by keeping your arms and wrists fully extended. If you fail to do this, the ball’s trajectory could change, deviating from the one you intended. This is why you can see pro players “freeze” for a couple of seconds after setting.

The height of your pass should go from less than 3.2 feet to 9.8 feet. This means that the strength at which you set the ball could affect the striker’s hit. You need to give them enough time to approach and hit the ball. For that, you need to learn the different types of sets and the drills that will improve your passing skills

Volleyball : Types of Sets in Volleyball

Practice Your Setter Skills

Like any other sport, volleyball can be practiced and mastered. For this, you might want to get a professional coach that helps you improve your game. However, there are basic tips that you could use to get better. Down below you can see a list of them.

Hitting the volleyball through a set
  • When moving under the ball, imagine you have a metal stick inserted into your back. This will prevent you from bending over at the waist.
  • Use a wall to continuously practice your setter mechanics.
  • Practice with targets. This way you can improve your aim.
  • Improve your agility through strength and conditioning training. This will optimize your footwork and endurance.
  • Practice how to trick your opponents with movements and threats such as the setter dump.
  • Practice your feet positioning so they’re always shoulder-width apart. Not too wide, not too close.
  • Get to know your hitters, what they do, how they hit, and when they hit.
  • Practice your decision-making. Most professional setters might recognize patterns and comprehend the game differently than the other players.
  • Never set a serve, this is considered illegal

Related Questions

Here are some related questions about setting in volleyball.

Is Setting the Hardest Skill in Volleyball?

Yes, setting can be considered the hardest skill to master in volleyball. This is because it needs to be done both quickly and accurately, which can be difficult to achieve.

How Can I Set More Accurately?

If you want to improve your accuracy, you need to practice by setting to certain spots and areas on the court. On top of that, you can practice with weighted balls.

This way, your wrists will get stronger, allowing you to set with less effort.

How Many Fingers Should You Set With?

You can set using three fingers on each hand (thumbs, pointers, and middle fingers). However, if you feel comfortable with your technique, you can use more fingers.


Setting a volleyball might be seen as something “easy” or “simple to do.” Yet, in reality, mastering this technique could be hard. Even professional setters keep practicing every single day. Because, at the end of the day, practice makes perfect, and setting is no exception to the rule.

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.