How to Hit Different Sets in Volleyball

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There are two basic sets in volleyball: the normal set and the quick set. A normal set rises several feet or more above the net, while a quick set should reach just about a foot above it. There are several types of sets within these categories, all based on placement. Being able to hit each one will make you a much more effective spiker. (The numbers used here are one of several different numbering systems for sets.)

Hitting Normal Sets

  • Hit a "6." A "6" is a ball that is set very high and outside the antenna. Your approach should start outside the court boundaries. When the ball is set, wait for it to reach its peak, then approach and swing, hitting the ball cross court.

  • Hit a "5." A "5" is the most common set and is what most novices begin with. Like a "6," a "5" is set high, but it stays inside the antenna. Your approach should start back and to the left of where the ball will be struck. When the ball hits its peak, approach and then swing, either across your body for a spike down the line, or outside for a cross-court hit.

  • Hit a "3." A "3" (also sometimes known as a "32" to differentiate it from the "31" listed below in quick sets) is a high set that is put midway between the setter and the antenna. As with the "5," start your approach back and to the left of where you will make contact. When the ball hits its peak, approach and hit either angle (left or right) or straight.

  • Hit a "2." A "2" is a ball set two or three feet in the air above the net and directly in front of the setter. Your approach should start a few feet back from the setter. When the ball hits its peak, approach and attack in any direction. The "2" is often very effective against blockers because several angles can be used.

Hitting Quick Sets

  • Hit a "Shoot." This set, sometimes known as a "4," is the same as a "5" in location. The ball, however, should be set so that its peak is just a foot above the net. To hit this set, start in the same position as you would for hitting a "5," but start your approach when the pass reaches the setter. The ball should be set fast enough that it will arrive at its peak at the same point you are swinging.

  • Hit a "31." Like the "3" above, the "31" is set halfway between the setter and the antenna. But again, it should be set only about a foot above the net. Therefore, you again need to approach as soon as the ball reaches the setter's hands. Your swing should be timed to strike just as the ball reaches its peak.

  • Hit a "1." This is the most difficult set for many spikers because it requires perfect timing. Like with the "2" set above, the "1" is set right in front of the setter. It also should rise only a foot above the net. This means that you must approach and leap in perfect conjunction with the setter receiving the ball and putting it into the air. Your swing should be starting as the ball begins to rise.

Tips & Warnings

  • Normal sets are much easier to spike because they do not require such perfect timing. A high ball can be adjusted to, while a ball that rises just a foot above the net must be struck at exactly the right time. But quick sets are extremely effective because they often don't allow opponents to set up blocks. Make sure you get a setter who has the strength and accuracy to place the balls where they need to be.

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