I came across an excellent post from one of my former NT teammates Brenda (Boroski) Westwood that I thought was to valuable not to share with you.
Brenda had an astonishing career for the University of Winnipeg Wesmen as she led the team as a setter to 5 CIS national champions, (Player of the Year in 86/87 and 87/88; MVP of the National tournament in 85/86 and 86/87) and
played Jr. National team for 2 summers, Captain in 1985 where the team won Gold at International tournament in Italy… defeating the US in the finals.
Brenda came to the team for the year that I had transitioned to full time setting. In fact, this young "little" feisty setter, who is one of the funniest people I have ever met, taught me a lot about setting and dealing with hitters that no coach would ever teach me!! shhh..and will remain a "setters secret".
Now a successful youth coach, Brenda has many gifts to bring and I am happy that she is letting me share her knowledge here on my blog.
GUEST BLOG: BRENDA WESTWOOD, Winnipeg Manitoba
It's time kids!!... lets talk about Setters!! Yay!
Of course this is my favourite topic because I get a kick (not really) out of talking to coaches about setters. Unless you have set for a long time, it is hard for a coach to understand all the jobs that a setter has to do... besides actually playing!!
- Setters must be able to think on the fly... take a look at the opposition and try to figure out HOW to 'create' then attack the gaps with the best option for the team needs to get a kill with the type of offense they call.
- They need to figure out and deliver the set types and specific location of those sets (ex. push 51, inside high for line shot, backset either inside or at the antenna, if dumping is an option, where the defense on the other side is weak, and what tempo will work best against that specific opposition.
- They need to figure out who likes which set, and give them the highest chance for success, either with the actual set or the combination that creates an open lane for it.
- They need to be aware of the mental makeup of their hitters and what kind of support works best for EACH of them
- They need to do some things early in a match (whether they work or not!!) To establish a certain attack they may not even use in the third set, but have to lead the opposition blockers to believe she might. (These early plays usually cause rookie coaches to lose their minds...)
- They usually have to adjust to middles coming in at all different speeds and angles (even though they shouldn't have to adjust to speed, it should always be superfast) often they must set a middle who hasn't even gotten two steps off the net, but the gap is there and that set needs to be made even forced!
- Setters know that a fast middle sets up everything... combos, isolation, seams etc. This is the 1st ingredient in engaging your setter in a fast, fun, smart and effective attack. (correct me if I'm wrong setters... but a high ball is NOT a challenge, nor is it fun and unless you have an entire stable of horses it usually ends with a Loss) Speed kills. Speed = isolation kills.
- Setters have to read hitters and decide when to release from defense to run in and transition the offense... coaches: this is fun!!... STOP asking your players to dig the friggin' ball into the center of the court!!! all that does is force a high ball attack with two solid closed blockers. Why not expect more? Even my brothers 12U girls are digging the ball to the setting spot... setters job is to get there.
- Setters are usually the liaison between coach and players and have to work together to create a winning offense... Nothing more frustrating than a coach that doesn't understand what a setter needs and wants to do.
- All of this AND setters, please add to that mixture, trying to deceive the opposition blockers by disguising your set using different body and hand position.
- also setters... please do all of this regardless of the quality of the passes or digs.
Not too much to ask, is it? AND this is only 1/4 of the stuff you need to teach and do... there is soooo much more, but you get the picture here.
Coaches: coaching setters is as much or more conversation as it is reps. That is why choosing a setter (and libero, but that's next weeks topic) who is a tactician and loves figuring all of those things out, is crucial. I can guarantee that some coaches will read this and either not understand what I mean, or they will realize that they have some work to do for their teams.
Brenda, intense and confident, as she listens to strategic advice during her 5 years at UW with coach, Mike Burchuk.
Mike was my coach for the 1996 Olympics. He was a great technical coach and improved my setting technique significantly in the 14 months he coached me. Proving you "can teach an old dog new tricks!!"
Brenda (Captain,#3) setting for Canada Junior Team for 2 summers.
Middle player is Kristine Drakich, 2016 CIS Champion coach for University of Toronto and former national team player.
As many thoughts of volleyball & my many days of playing come up for me these days, I thought I would share some insights with young & old players, coaches alike!!