What Is a Setter in Volleyball?

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Positions are an essential part of volleyball as they determine the roles of the players. If you just started playing this sport, you might wonder what is a setter in volleyball and what are their duties inside of the court.

What Is a Setter in Volleyball?

The setter is the player that controls the offense of the volleyball team. His objective is to receive the ball and quickly set it so the striker can perform an attack. It is the main contributor to the offensive strategies of every team.

Without the setter, there would not be a good distribution of the ball, therefore the teams would perform very weak attacks.

Learning the characteristics of a good setter can help you improve your performance on the volleyball court.

Volleyball setter

What Are the Characteristics of a Good Setter in Volleyball?

Great SetterRegular Setter
Good communicatorBarely communicates
Understands the flow of the gameDoesn’t fully comprehend the strategies
Encourages teammates when losingFeels defeated midgame
Can set the ball without making a soundOften lifts or carries the ball
Trains regularlyMisses training days

A good setter needs to have certain skills and attributes in order to have a good performance. These skills will allow the setter to improve his interpretation of the game. Here are the characteristics of a good setter:

Strong Communication and Leadership Skills

The setter is often called “the coach inside of the court” because of his essential contribution to the team. Therefore, this player must know how to effectively communicate with his teammates. They need to be able to control what happens inside of the court.

Additionally, they also need to be good leaders. If they are not, their teammates will not see them as an authority figure, which could end up in a lack of trust. This role needs to encourage his allies and keep them focused throughout the game.

Good Understanding of the Game

This player needs to understand the strategies and tactics of the game to be able to execute them.

Most plays involve the setter, which is why he needs to know where the volleyball should go, at what height it should be passed, and how fast it should go.

If a setter fails to understand what the striker pretends to do, then the whole attack is going to fail. This is one of the main factors that distinguish elite players from beginners.

Good Competitor 

As I mentioned before, the setter needs to have a positive mentality to encourage his teammates. This means that it should always be calm, even when the team is losing. They need to be able to work under pressure and push through any possible obstacle.

Delicate Touch on the Ball

Volleyball setter setting with forearms

One of the main objectives of the setter is to send a perfect ball into the air. This way, the striker can either spike it or perform another attack. To do this, this player needs to quickly contact the volleyball and send it directly to the perfect spot without any defects.

For example, if the ball ends up a little bit too high, the striker might not be able to effectively perform the attack. Additionally, the volleyball should never spin, this is a sign that the ball was handled incorrectly, and it could be considered an illegal move.

Good Athletic and Physical Attributes 

The offense needs to be quick, therefore a good setter should be able to quickly reach and set any ball. This agility will allow the team to work in synchronicity and perform dangerous attacks fast. 

In addition to that, this player should possess certain physical attributes that help him throughout the game. For example, a setter should be tall and have a good vertical jump. This will help him move faster and quickly reach the volleyball. 

Tips to Improve as a Volleyball Setter

Getting better as a setter requires you to learn a lot of details that are often overlooked. Here are some tips to improve as a volleyball setter:

  • Get to know your striker. This way you know what they like, how fast they can reach the volleyball, and how high they can jump. Learning these details will avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.
  • Square up and keep your hands high at every moment. You will need to be prepared to quickly reach the ball at all times.
  • Think before you play and always choose the wisest option. Don’t just set the ball anywhere, be strategic and develop a quick plan.
  • Be creative and create plays that the opponent wouldn’t expect.
  • Speak loud and clear. It does not matter if you can communicate effectively if no one hears you inside of the court.
Volleyball setter setting with fingers

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about the setter in volleyball: 

Is the Setter the Captain of the Team?

While this player is often the captain of the team, it is not the predetermined captain. Other players can have this title if the coach decides it as such. After all, the captain should be the player that has the most authority inside of the team.

Are Setters the Most Important Position in Volleyball?

Although all positions are equally important in a volleyball team, the setter is considered to be the most important one. This is due to the crucial role they partake in when it comes to the offense of the team.

Can Setters Block?

Yes, setters are allowed to block when the opposite team has possession of the ball. However, if the setter is currently in a back row position, they are not allowed to block, only dig and bump the ball.


A setter is one of the most essential players on the volleyball court. His presence allows the team to effectively distribute the game and produce dangerous attacks. Without a proper setter, the team would not have good control over their game.

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.