Improving Quads 3: Distributed Setting

img_8303Part of the Improving Quads series.

As noted in the previous article, most beach quads teams adopt the “diamond” formation for both serve receive and defensive formations. The player closest to the net is the designated setter, and is expected to set the ball for attack by either “wing” players. In a sense this is borrowed from indoor sixes volleyball, the 4-2 strategy that is drafted onto the beach quads system. Some local rules may designate the most recently serving player as a “back row” player subject to jump restrictions for attack or blocking.

This formation imagines an idealized pass going to a designated location on the court, with a trajectory that enables nimble setting near the net, a difficult requirement given that it’s a response to an offensive contact, even in more experienced players. To learn setting, we can lower the bar by distributing the setting responsibility across the entire team.

Unlike the regular diamond formation, distributed setting means that every person is a setter with a dedicated passer. So, for example, if a team consists of players A, B, C and D, if player A passes the ball, player B is the setter. If B passes the ball, C is the setter. And so on until the entire team is involved. Particularly for novices, this simplifies both passing and setting. Rather than trying to track a ball that can come from three possible passers, every potential setter only needs to track their one passer. And it removes the pressure to pass the ball towards a specific region on the court – both passer and setter can move closer together in a play to simplify the pass. Note that a setter does not have to set the passing person – she may set any person she deems appropriate for the play.

The distributed nature of setting frees up the players to form various defensive formations that can be team initiated rather than imposed from the outside. The linked pairs of passers and setters means the team as a whole can adjust dynamically, and scales with team proficiency. Limited testing seems to promote creative problem solving, and better non verbal communication.

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