What Just Happened? – When Role Play Is Bad

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For more explanations of what is really happening in the game click What Just Happened All Parts and for explanations of great play click Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

The first step towards ‘real’ volleyball is identifying a setter and building the structure of the team around that role. At those beginning levels of play, the primary role is simply to play the second ball.

The first time watching this video, we probably don’t see anything out of the ordinary. The setter takes the second ball, the hitter doesn’t score, they teams loses the extended rally. Nothing to see here. But if you watch again, what do you really see?

The setter has to run a long way to get to the ball. Too long. He arrives late and can only manage a poor set. After this set, the rest of the rally plays out as you would expect. But, is there another option on the play?

Yes, there is. The hitter could easily take maybe two steps to the ball and set a high ball to position 2. Theoretically, the setter is a better setter but not at the limit of their ability to even reach the ball. At that moment, they are no better than any other player at setting and probably worse. While the designated setter is the best setter overall, in this action the hitter in position 4 is the best setter. The team fulfilled their expected roles but at the cost of a good outcome. Cutting off one’s nose, so to speak.

Yes, specialisation of the setter role is important. Yes, forcing setter to set every second ball has important learning and development applications. But the moment following these rules makes the team worse, the rules cease to be useful and must be ignored. And players must have the opportunity to learn to identify those lines and to make spontaneous decisions.

To see view inside my gym and get an insight into my practice philosophy, click here.


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