Setting off a Lead Leg

Spend any time discussing setting with another coach, and “what type of footwork do you teach?” pops up pretty quick. It tends to be a hot button issue at our GMS clinics as well (something has to take swing blocking’s place…). Ron Larsen did a great study for us here at LMU, and combining that with our work at USA WNT, here’s one item of setter footwork I believe is important to teach your setters:

Set off a lead leg

This is one way of saying the setter’s right foot should be forward when setting the ball. Depending on where the pass is, the most effective and dynamic choices currently would be to jump set (when the quick is involved) or to pivot (every other time). The benefits of jump setting are pretty widely acknowledged:

  1. Speeds up the offense by shortening the distance between the quick hitter and the setter
  2. Jumping in the air adds one more visual element for the block defense to interpret thus making the setter more difficult to read

The benefits of the pivot may not be as widely acknowledged, but here’s what we’ve found them to be:

  1. Running and pivoting allows a setter to run fast all the way to the ball, and use the rotation of the pivot to create balance. This is a lot more efficient than trying to put two feet on the ground when running hard to a ball, which is essentially like putting on the brakes
  2. The rotation of the pivot creates some torque, and this extra power sure is nice when encouraging setters to get out of their third of the court and set against the flow.
  3. Similar to #1, when the setter is on the move, the pivot allows a simple and dynamic way to finish square to the target

Some keys we’ve used to improve this move:

  1. Read the pass: It’s amazing how under-developed this skill is. Most setters do not look at the passer’s platform until the passer’s forearms actually connect to the ball. This is way too late. Getting on the platform early gives the setter time to run, and once they’re running, this pivot move becomes a lot easier.
  2. Face the ball, face the target: This is all done off the right foot. Run to the ball, pivot, and finish facing the left-side target.
  3. Knee up, not foot out: Lots of setter’s pivot, but they are almost spinning their body with two feet on the ground. This creates drag and doesn’t allow for the benefits of the move to come into play. Driving the left knee up allows for a tighter axis, better rotation, more torque, and a more dynamic move.

Good luck to all our setters!

Tom Black