How to Read the Volleyball Setter

Know Where the Setter is Going Before the Ball is Set

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In order to be successful, it is important for a blocker to read the setter. This means to take a look at the setter's body position and to make an educated guess as to where they are going to send the ball. The better the setter, the better he or she will be at disguising his or her intentions and the more difficult this can be. There are a few things to look for that will help you get a head start in the right direction.

Keep Your Hands Up

Your ready blocking position is standing with your knees slightly bent, your weight on your toes and your hands up above your head. You keep your hands high so that you can react quickly if the setter tries to dump the ball over or goes with a quick set. Even if you can't get your feet to the ball, you can get your hands up and try to get a piece of the hit and slow it down for your diggers.

Know the Setter's Options

Before the play starts, identify your front row hitters. Hopefully, you have watched your opponent play before and you know what sets each hitter likes to hit and where they like to hit it. Depending on where the other team passes the ball, you can determine what the setter's options are. If the pass is off the net, he or she probably can't set a quick set to the middle. If the ball is tight to the net, he or she may not be able to get it all the way outside or they may attempt to dump the ball over or joust with you. If there is a perfect pass, he or she has the option to set any hitter and you should try to read his or her body position.

Read the Setter's Body

Setters work very hard to be deceptive, so always keep your weight evenly dispersed and on your toes so that you can move quickly in any direction. Now, just follow the clues to get an idea of where the setter is going. The first clue is the setter's position in relation to the ball. If the ball is in front of them, they won't be able to set behind them. The opposite is also true - if the ball is behind them, they won't be effective in setting the ball outside.

Since the setter is trying to fake you out, you must be sure before you commit to jump. If you jump on the setter thinking he or she is going to dump or you commit on the middle looking for the quick set and you're wrong, it is almost impossible to land and move in front of the hitter she has sent the ball to in time to form a decent block. Now you've put your team at an enormous disadvantage because their hitter has only one blocker and can hit the ball almost anywhere, making a dig very tough on your defense.

If you're not sure the setter is going to dump or set the quick, you can just keep your hands up and be ready to hop if he or she begins the motion. A short hop instead of a full jump will allow you to deflect the ball if he or she dumps, or to land and move to the outside on time if need be.

Know the Setter's Tendencies

The best way to get a jump on the setter is to know their tendencies. Make sure to watch him or her before you take them on. Does they only jump set when they set middle? Does he or she have a tell or a give away when going to set outside? Each setter's quirks can help you decipher where he or she is going to go with the ball.