Common Mistakes When Running a Volleyball One Set

A Few Things to Avoid

Volleyball game in a gym with spectators in the stands.

Zorro2212/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

The one set is the first quick set that junior volleyball players learn when they start to execute more sophisticated offenses. It is a low and quick set to the middle hitter, who takes off just in front of the setter. When you move from the high two set in the middle to run a quick set, there are a few common problems that arise. Most of the problems center around timing, position, and court sense. It takes time to develop a rhythm with a setter and to figure out how to have the perfect timing. Practice makes perfect, but make sure to avoid the following mistakes when teaching or learning how to run the one.

Not Paying Attention to the Pass

The first mistake that young players make is going to the same spot every time when getting into their approach. Running a quick set like the one is not an exact science. You can't just run to where the ball should be under perfect conditions. The truth is, the pass could be anywhere. In order to run a good one set, especially for beginners, the pass needs to be almost perfect. That means it should be at the net on top of the setter's head.

The middle hitter has to quickly determine whether the pass is, first of all, good enough to run the one. If the middle hitter decides that it is not, they need to call out loudly the set that they would rather hit. The hitter should scream the number of whatever set they want to hit at the top of their lungs, so the setter knows that the play is off and doesn't set the one without a hitter to take a swing.

If the middle hitter determines that the pass is good enough to run the one, the work is still not done. The hitter needs to be in good position on the take off and in the same relation to the setter, no matter where the ball ends up. If the pass is a little in front or behind the setter and the setter has to move, the hitter needs to adjust and get to the right spot so the setter can deliver the ball.

Too Late

The idea of a quick set is that it be indeed quick. This means that the hitter should ideally be taking off for her jump before the ball is set. This is one of the toughest things for new players to do. They are accustomed to seeing the set and then jumping to hit it. The quick set is different. They must get into the air and be ready to swing should the setter deliver them the ball. It is the setter's responsibility to deliver the ball in the correct location for the hitter to swing at. As your setters and hitters get to know each other's tendencies, this will fall into place. But the first part of the puzzle is for the hitter to be in the air early.

Too Close

When hitting the one set, the hitter should make it as easy as possible for the setter to deliver the ball. When hitters take off too close to the net, it makes it nearly impossible for the setter to squeeze the ball in between the hitter and the blocker without setting it right over the net. Make sure that the hitter stays off the net, so the setter has room. The hitter needs to see both the setter and the blocker. If the hitter broad jumps too much, it makes things very difficult on the setter — who could end up in the net. Staying off the net also allows the hitter to see the block and make a good decision about where to direct the ball.

No Target for the Setter

Another way the hitter can help out the setter is to provide a big target to set to. When the hitter takes off, their arms swing backward and then forward in order to help get as much air as possible on the jump. Both of those arms should be in the air when you get up for the one set. If you've done your approach properly, your left foot is slightly ahead of your right when you jump. That allows you to open your body toward the setter. With both arms up and your hitting arm cocked and ready to swing very quickly, you give the setter a nice big target to set the ball to. If you keep your arms down until the last minute, you will swing late and probably get blocked if anyone is up on the other side. You will also force your setter to guess at the height and position she should be going for. That leads to the anti-climatic "whiff" hit which sometimes goes down on the other side of the net, but is not nearly as satisfying as a great connection.

Not Paying Attention to the Block

If all of the first four things are done as they should be (the hitter watched the pass, got up early, stayed off the net, and gave the setter a target) your set has a good chance of being right on the money. Don't blow it by then hitting the ball straight ahead and directly into the waiting blocker. The opposing blocker is most likely going to line up right in front of your hitting hand. If you can't hit over her, your best bet is to hit to her right or left. Make sure you take a look at where she is and work to hit around her or off of her hands.

Swinging Away at Bad Sets

If any of the first four things go wrong and your setter doesn't deliver a good set, the worst thing you can do is swing away. Yes, the one set is supposed to be a quick hit straight down. But if it is a tough set to hit — meaning it is too low, the timing is off or the set is too close to the net — just make a play to keep the ball alive. This could mean tipping it right over the opposing middle blocker. It could mean a nice roll shot to a spot on the court you think might be tough to cover. But whatever you do, don't swing as hard as you can into the blocker or worse, into the net. If you get the ball over the net, your team might just get another chance at a good swing when it comes back your way. Always make the smart play.