The setter is the player on the court that normally gets the second touch on the ball. Passers aim to get the ball to this player, because they are in charge of getting the ball to the hitters. Most often, a setter will play in the back row toward the right side, allowing them to move easily to the front right, while having three available hitters in the front row. They are the player on the court who has the strongest skills in placing the ball in the right place for their hitters. Setters must be able to communicate with their players and know where specific hitters want the ball to get the best hit. Setting most often occurs with the hands rather than typical passing with the arms.
There are many different ways for the setter to place the ball when they are setting. Typically, they use two hands to send the ball, but if they cannot get into a proper position, they can also set with a "platform" which is the typical way players pass or bump the ball.
When setting with the hands, the setter must be sure to plant their feet on the ground steadily, and facing the target, spread their hands in the shape of the ball above their heads. They must come into contact with the ball with both hands at the same time, or the ball will spin and a double can be called. Once the come into contact with the ball, they must push it in their preferred direction both with their arms and with their body. For longer sets, they must use their legs and torso to push the ball. They must also follow through with their hands and the direction of their body to ensure the ball moves in the right direction.
Setters also have the opportunity to "dump" the ball if they feel they cannot get a good set to a hitter. They will pretend they are setting, and then send the ball over the net instead, hoping to trick the other team and catch them off guard.
Setting occurs as the second touch on the ball. Players will pass the ball to the setter and the setter then places the ball for their hitters. In most rotations, the setter will move so that they are in the front row, and another player will pass for them. If the setter passes the first ball, another player, often the libero, will step up and act as the setter.
The point of a setter is to put the ball in position for hitters to get the best hit possible. Setters often have to decide where the best place is to set the ball based on where they are on the court and on which players are hitting the best. Often, setters will set to one player over another because they are playing better or they are in an ideal place on the court to line them up to hit the ball.
One key skill for setters is communication. They must talk to their hitters so that hitters are prepared to hit and they must be able to listen to the hitters' feedback on their sets so that they can improve. In many situations, if the setter feels they cannot get to the second ball, they can call for help so that other players might act as the setter.
Strong setters have the athletic ability to get to the ball anywhere on the court. They are expected to get the second ball in most situations, so they must have the athleticism and endurance to be the player on the court that moves the most and often the fastest.
It is also preferred that setters be tall because of their presence in the front of the court. They are expected to be blockers when they are in the front row, and on overpasses, they have to go up to the net to either joust for the ball or try to put it down on the other side of the net.
The setter must also have consistency in their body position, no matter what kind of set they are producing. This way, the opposing team cannot read their body position and know which direction the ball is going.
There are many places where the setter can place the ball. The three most typical sets are to an outside hitter, a middle hitter, or an opposite hitter. The set to the outside goes to the left side of the court, the middle goes to the middle, and the opposite goes to the right side. These players work with their setters in practice so that the setter knows how each of them hits, and where they like the ball in the air.
The setter can also set a lower set to the middle, which is a quicker hit meaning that the other team may not be able to get a block up fast enough. Middles can also "slide" and move to the right or left side of the court, again to change position and confuse blockers. Setters can also set players in the back row. These players must hit from behind the ten foot line, but these hits can be difficult to block as they do not fit into the typical front row attacking hits. There is a large variety in types of sets, as shown by the diagram below.