2008 and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Lindsey Berg shares these tips that will help you become the best setter you can be. Originally published in VolleyballUSA, Winter 2009-10 issue
Be a leader.
A setter should be high energy. It’s important that you learn how to give positive, constructive criticism. It’s crucial that you make your teammates feel comfortable. You should never be the most silent player in the gym.
Be the hardest worker on the team.
If there’s an opportunity to get more reps by setting during a passing drill or joining a defensive drill when an extra person is needed, do it.
Know your hitters and what sets they like to hit.
Learn what motivates them and develop a good relationship with them. One good way to bond with your hitters is to let them know that you’re comfortable receiving feedback from them. Having them say something is always better than having them say nothing. You need to be mentally strong and able to accept criticism.
Keep your hands high.
This is very important because the ball should be coming from the same position every time. Also, the blockers on the other side of the net will have a harder time reading where you are setting.
Make everyone around you better.
This is always a goal of mine. I was once told after a game that I make the players around me better. From then on, I decided that I would make an effort to do that every day.
Set from a consistent body position and hand position so you can be deceptive.
If you arch your back too much, the blockers will know you are setting back. And if you take the ball too far in front of you, the only place you can set is forward.
Have a good relationship with your coach since you are often looked at as the “coach on the floor.”
Always respect your coaches and try to become comfortable talking to them. Ask a lot of questions. Voice opinions. Share ideas. Just be sure you talk. The more you talk, the more comfortable you will be.
Constantly work on your hands.
You can never set too many balls, especially if you’re a beginning or intermediate setter. My sister and I used to set against the wall in our house all day long.
It’s rare that you’ll get a pass right to you, so work on your foot speed.
You can practice your footwork anywhere, and you don’t even need a ball. Turn on some music, and start moving. Setting is all about rhythm.
Play as much as you can!
Even if you’re not setting, just playing volleyball gives you a strong knowledge of the game and experience to build on. Growing up in Hawaii, my sister and I used to play in our back yard whenever we could, and we also played on the beach at the Outrigger Canoe Club. We’d compete against all the other kids on the “baby court.”