What Just Happened? – Anatomy of (Yet Another) 1v1

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For more explanations of what is really happening in the game click What Just Happened Part 1-8 and for explanations of great play click Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

In case you haven’t already figured out here and here, I think a lot of 1v1 attacks are, shall we say, unnecessary. The following photo popped up on my social media the other day with an attached question of where did the setter set the ball?

I have to admit I thought it was a trick question of some kind because the setter is obviously about to set back. Upon searching through the replies, there was a clip of the entire action.

The explanation was that this was a great set because the setter had all options until the last moment and his great play led to a 1v1 for the opposite. Let’s reflect on some of our knowledge before we test that hypothesis.

In order to set a long distance, a setter has to be in excellent position, with their feet ‘behind’ the ball in order to create the impulse they need to push the ball far enough.

In order to keep the opposing middle blocker fixed in their position, a setter needs to be in ‘a’ neutral position so that they do not give off any visual cues too early.

So let’s look at the video again and ask the question do either or both of those two conditions exist in this action? I’ll wait.

The answer is a resounding NO. The setter ‘strolls’ to the ball, and at no point has his feet in a position that would allow him to set a long distance and probably not even first tempo where he would also have to generate power. His hands go to a high position and his back arches early. It is clear very early in the action that he will set back.

So why does it end up as a 1v1? The first answer is that it is a transition play that moves fast and the middle has to collect a lot of information in a short period of time. It is a very difficult play to block and the setter has all the advantages. But the big mistake the middle makes is assuming that all attackers are available. He loses valuable time searching for the middle attacker and with the offence run at that speed, the instant he looks away from the setter he is lost.

Too often we imagine that the setter has more options than they really do. Our job is to make sure our players look in the right place to get the information they really need and ignore the ‘chuffah’*.

*Shout out to all Kevin Smith fans.

To learn more about teaching Middle Blockers good reading habits, click here.

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

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