Setter’s Rules – Match

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87 national champs003

Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with many world class players including a number of setters of the highest level.  But for the mental, personal and team aspects of setting the best I have ever worked with remains to this day one with whom I played: Mark Tutton (bottom row, far right #5).  Tutts wasn’t very big even by the standards of the day and he was no technician, but he always, always won.  Not only did he always win, but he was the best teammate you could ever have and everybody loved playing with him.  I’m not sure which one of those things came first.  At some point, I decided that learning his secret would help me understand setters and how to help them.  So I called him and asked him how he played a game as a setter.  He began by telling me that he had no clue what he did.  And then told me exactly what he did.  Doing this won’t guarantee that you’ll win the match, but it will go a pretty long to it.


By Mark Tutton


  • Know the personalities of the spikers and how they respond to certain situations, i.e. do they like a lot of the ball or a little or only in certain situations
  • Know the preferences of the spikers, i.e. what is the spiker’s favourite hit
  • Know that each spiker is best and worst at hitting, e.g. what can’t the spiker hit


  • Determine the type of offence that will be most successful for a particular opponent, e.g. spread or tight offence


  • Notice which spikers are looking sharp and work on building up the others
  • Identify who is the ‘hot’ hitter, i.e. who is hitting best right now


  • Keep all spikers involved in the match, giving more or less even distribution, talking into account PRIOR KNOWLEDGE
  • Set the previously identified ‘hot’ hitter 2 or 3 balls to everyone else’s 1
  • If the situations requires, set the best hitter or the hottest hitter whatever defence is presented and no matter how obvious it is
  • Continually encourage all spikers

The collection of Coaching Tips can be found here.

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.Cover v2

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