Over-Head Setting By Steve Fuhrman
Let’s face it. Some people should NEVER over-head set.

Setting is one of the most controversial areas in wallyball. Bad sets seem to go uncalled and it can get very frustrating.

A contact of the ball using the fingers of both hands to direct the ball toward a teammate is a set. A player may set the ball in any direction toward his/her team’s court. Rotation of a set ball may indicate a held ball or multiple contacts during the set but in itself is not a fault

A player may have successive contacts with the ball during a single attempt to make the team’s first contact (on a hard driven spike), provided the fingers are not used to direct the ball.

The ball must be contacted cleanly.  It cannot be held, lifted, pushed, caught, carried, or thrown. The ball cannot roll or come to rest on any part of a player’s body.  It can rebound in any direction.

What I normally find is that when we play against another team in our division, we generally have a very good hand setter.  Unfortunately, the opposing team usually doesn’t.  Therefore when we perform a handset, the ball is clean, with little to no spin.  However when the opposing team does a handset, it may have several rotations.  We instinctively hesitate because we think the set is bad and should be called.  If the set isn’t called, we feel the game is not being played fairly.  When things like this happen during a game, you can’t help but get discouraged.

However with this being said, I still understand that a lot of people don’t like tight rules when it comes to hand setting. Some say it discourages people from wanting to use their hands to set the ball.  My philosophy is: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and more PRACTICE.  Just like anything else, if you want to get good at something, practice.

In my opinion, tightening up the rules on hand setting will not discourage but will encourage people to practice.  Also seeing someone handset that can do it very well, encourages me more to learn how to do it and/or become better at it. 
I have seen some players carry the ball down to their chest to set a ball.  I have seen others throw up a handset from above their heads so quickly that it makes your head spin.  A handset is done at or above the top of your nose with the ball traveling in one direction only during the setting motion.  Usually when the ball is “pushed” wrong from before it leaves the hands, it will have spin on it.  This should automatically be a bad set and be called as such.  In certain cases, the division you play in determines which rules will apply.  For example, if the ball leaves your hands cleanly but has rotation on it while in the air, your division level should determine if this will be called a bad set or not.  See below for the rules for the different divisions.

Open              : The ball may slowly rotate (not spin) forward or backward up to 3 rotations. No more than 1                               side rotation or sidespin.

Advanced      : The ball may slowly rotate (not spin) forward or backward up to 4 rotations. No more than                                2 side rotations or sidespin.

Intermediate : The ball may slowly rotate (not spin) forward or backward up to 5 rotations. No more than                                3 side rotations or sidespin.

Beginner and Recreational:  The ball may slowly rotate (not spin) forward or backward. 

Lets put more skill into the setting position...make the setter get his/her feet in the right position and deliver a good set!

Legal contact of the ball, particularly during a handset, is probably the most difficult part of the game to self-officiate. The ball must be contacted cleanly (one contact on the second and third hit) and not held, lifted, pushed, caught, carried or thrown. The ball cannot roll or come to rest on any part of a player's body. Rotation of a set ball may indicate a held ball or multiple contacts during the set, but in itself is not a fault. Since wallyball has different categories of skill, there are differences in how strictly this rule is applied. The stricter you are with your team, the more likely the team's skill will improve. If a captain feels that another team is constantly setting the ball illegally and not calling it, it is better for the captain to point out the fault early in the game and not wait until the score is 14-14.

In volleyball, it's worth noting that the AVP has followed the trend of the FIVB and USAV in loosening up on hand setting calls. The purpose of this change is to encourage longer rallies, and decrease the number of rallies decided by the officials. Is this good? Personally, I don't think so.

Wallyball hasn’t done this.  In either sport, we strongly encourage you to call your own mishandled sets!  The benefits are improved skills and cleaner games.


USA Volleyball helped the Wallyball Information Network (WIN!) define hand setting in 2002.

This article was written in 2008.