Setting is second in line to blocking in terms of how difficult it is to train as a skill. Setting requires years of practice to perfect and millions of repetitions. Not only do you have to have solid hand contact on the ball, but your feet also have to make their way underneath the ball in order to dish out a good set. So, what is the secret to training setters and why does Nebraska seem to always have some of the best setters in the nation? Let’s find out in this week’s Lo-Down!
Nebraska’s setters always come in early to train and watch video. For example, if practice begins at 3:00 pm for the team, the setters will watch video around 2:00 pm and then they will start getting in extra repetitions around 2:30 pm. This holds true for days they have practice and days that they have games. The setters are always putting in extra work and more hours than anyone else on the team.
There are three main focuses if you are a setter at Nebraska. The first one is your hands. One of the ways that Coach John Cook molds setter’s hands is by having them practice with a basketball instead of a volleyball. All of the wall work and some of the partner setting is done with a basketball in hand. Over time, hand strength will improve and setting a volleyball will literally feel like you are setting a feather, so it becomes easier and the ball looks better coming out of their hands.
The second focus is footwork. If you don’t get your feet to the ball, then your hands will be in the wrong place and the ball won’t get to where you want it to go. Coach Cook has the setters go through their different footwork patterns each and every day. You would think that by the collegiate level, you wouldn’t need to go over footwork as much, but that is one of the reasons why Coach Cook has such talented players, he always drills the basics.
The third and final focus is your right eye. Every time a setter sets a back set while at Nebraska, you will most likely hear Coach Cook saying, “right eye!” Back setting is one of the hardest sets to perfect because as a setter, you can’t see where the ball is going since you are setting the ball behind your head. However, Coach Cook believes that if a setter is setting over her right eye, then she is lined up correctly and the ball will go where it needs to. I can still hear him saying “right eye” even though I have been done playing for a few years.
Now, these may not be keys for setters at other programs, but they are important for setters here at Nebraska. There are also other areas that Coach Cook focuses on while training setters, these are just the ones he talks about most. Since I was a setter at Nebraska, I will say that Coach Cook taught me more than I had ever learned before. His constant drive to push players to help them reach their potential is what led me to having a somewhat successful career as a Cornhusker and why the setters before and after me will continue to see success.