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Volleyball Set Diagram

posted Mar 8, 2015, 9:14 PM by Debbie Sokol   [ updated Mar 8, 2015, 11:19 PM ]

Below is a chart which outlines the different sets we used when I was playing and coaching collegiately and how we defined them. This is based on a system popularized by the USA men back in the 1980s where they divided the net into 9 zones of 1 meter each.

On top of that they added set heights ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest. The zones and heights were then combined to provide a two-digit specifier for each set. Thus, a standard high set to the outside (left) hitter is a 14 – zone 1, height 4. A middle quick is a 51 – zone 5, height 1.

Now for practical purposes most teams do not use the two digit calls in play. They tend to be shortened up to be able to be called quickly in a fast-paced play. In our case, we used letters to call the 4 different types of quick sets we used. You can see below how we did this, as well as the backrow zones system we used based on colors.

This, of course, is just one system. There are loads of variations. I have always found, though, that the underlying 2-digit base structure makes it very easy to work out different types of naming approaches or hand signals. 

These sets can be used in any offensive system such as a 5-1, 6-2 or 4-2. They can be used on serve-receive or first ball offense, as well as a free ball or down ball offense. In transition from defense, these sets work very well in an audible system, whereby the hitters are making audible calls to the setter as they transition off the net.

Whatever system you devise, make it easy to convey with one syllable words, and one that can be given via hand signals for those noisy gym environments. Setters must be able to communicate by more than one method to each of their hitters. Verbal calls, hand signals, eye contact and even gestures can be used to communicate the offensive set to each hitter. 

Designated combinations of sets can be simplified by calling a "play" in which every hitter knows their set by the default values in that play. This is a fast and easy way for the setter to communicate the offensive sets to everyone with one word, or one hand signal. It's always the hitter's job to know what set she is hitting and to make eye contact with the setter before each serve. Many miscommunications can be avoided if both the hitters and the setter are diligent about checking in with each other before every serve.

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