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The Lo-Down: How Setting Has Evolved at Nebraska

November 12, 2019

Setting is a topic I know a thing or two about. I knew I wanted to be a setter from a very young age. I grew up setting and finished my career as a setter. I would consider myself very knowledgeable about volleyball, but an expert when it comes to setting.

However, the way I was taught to set while I was playing, isn’t the same way they teach setters now. If you compared Nicklin Hames’ setter training before practice each day to the way setter training went when I was at Nebraska, you would find more differences than similarities. In today’s Lo-Down we are going to focus on how setting and training setters has evolved at Nebraska over the past few years.

Let’s start with the similarities. Right eye and over your right shoulder are basically the only two terms and techniques that remain the same. Right eye means that you should always be setting over your right eye, especially when it comes to back sets. You position yourself and your hands underneath the ball, so that from the time it reaches your hands to the time it exits it is over your right eye.

Right shoulder applies to when you are back setting, you always release the ball over your right shoulder. You might even see a setter turn over their right shoulder to help with this process. Bottom line, these two terms and techniques help keep the ball from going too tight or too far off the net.

Now the differences. Left-right footwork no longer applies. I was taught that I should always finish with my right foot ahead of my left and that I should be transferring my weight from my left foot to my right foot. For the past few years, Nebraska’s setters have been utilizing an even base and just getting both feet to the ball. That means having a balanced base position, where your feet are parallel, and you don’t have more pressure on one foot or another.

Speaking of feet, when a player is jump setting, they now teach pushing off the ground to reach the ball. When I played, they taught that you would jump up to the ball using your legs as opposed to using the ground to propel you up in the air. 

Hand positioning is the other big change. I was taught to set the ball and then hold your freeze. Your freeze is the motion your hands make moving forward or back depending on which way you are setting the ball. You should almost look like Superman (or Superwoman) flying once you release the ball out of your hands. Currently, the setters at Nebraska are still taught to set with their hands high, but they are supposed to retract their hands back down towards their forehead after they push the ball forward or behind.

Whether you are a setter yourself or someone who coaches setters, there are always going to be different opinions and different techniques used. I am not saying one way is right over the other.

However, based on the success that the Big Red has had at the setting position from the time this program started to now, I believe that the way they train their setters is the best in the world. The game and the way it is taught is always evolving, especially at the setting position and because of that, Nebraska setters are constantly changing how they train.

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