The Deep Dish

January 4, 2021

4 min read

How deep is TOO deep?

Steven Ijams
Owner -South Bay Volleyball - Beach Volleyball Academy

I get this question in our training sessions almost daily. "How deep is too deep?", what's "illegal?"

GOLDEN RULE #1 - Don't let the ball be in contact with your hands and move towards your body.  Setting should be one directional.  Not down and then up.
GOLDEN RULE #2 - Take the ball no lower than your own chin (this means the base of the ball, not the top of the ball).
GOLDEN RULE #3 - The engine of your handset is from the legs and the triceps, not the wrists. How fast you fire to straighten your arm will help drive height and accuracy  When you start firing from the wrist, it creates more inconsistencies in ball flight/accuracy as well as the spin put on the ball.


I break down the art of hand setting into 3 sections.

Position One. The "Draw"

  • Draw your hands up just off your forehead with wrists hinged supporting the base of the ball with your thumbs and index finger. Use the rest of the fingers and hands to support the sides of the ball.
  • Athletic tall with feet shoulder distance. No squatting. Setting doesn't come from the quads, it comes from the calves and the triceps.

Position Two. The "Contact"

  • Hands go out 2-4 inches to contact the ball keeping the hands in the same shape and wrist hinge in the "draw" position.
  • Straighten the knees and explode up with the toes.

Position Three. The "Release"

This is where I see most of the setting errors come from.

  • With hands hinged and locked into position, continue to move your hands upward using the triceps in the trajectory you're intending to set. (Straight up, Push, Outside, back set, shoot set.)
  • If your hands flair at the wrist, bump into each other or your arms create a "Y" shape, it means you're using your wrists, your hands start to wide or your hands start too close. They should finish the same distance they started with the shape of the ball.

ATTACKING - Take a little pace off the ball and spin the ball more but hit your shots with conviction.  Fear of mistakes cause errors. In broken plays, back your opponent up by going deeper into the court.  This often has the same effect as serving deep and forces a much longer pass and approach into the wind.

BLOCKING  - I like to have defaults with blocking and then react to situations that change those default.  In this wind situation by default, I'm usually thinking "pull" unless the ball is close enough to smother or if attacker is comfortably behind their set. Examine the situation for the hitter.  Just because the ball is set off the net doesn't always mean "pull".  If the hitter has the ball in front of them and has a strong approach, it could warrant a committed block.

SETTING - Proper positioning and quick feet are important on non windy days but on windy days, it's critical.  If passes are controlled, try and use small touches on the ball but at the same time, provide enough time for the hitter so they have the opportunity to hit a hard ball.  Under-setting partners usually forces them to hit shots or causes hitting errors.

In general, be more conscience on playing cooperative with your partner. Use touches that "better" the bad plays by splitting distances with your partner.

Now, go work on your hand setting!!