Setting: A Guide to the New Rules (In Theory, anyway...)

rule changes setting Jul 17, 2022

Making Sense of the Chaos

If you were like us watching the Gstaad Elite Series, you will have been shocked at the new direction the FIVB has taken their refereeing directives. From nearly an 'anything goes' standpoint to seemingly every other hand set being called.

Why have they done this? From the email that they sent through to players, they have announced that they've reviewed the current setting standards in the run up to Paris and have decided that they are currently too relaxed. They have therefore started a crackdown with the aim of "reinstating the appropriate implementation of the Official Beach Volleyball Rules within the current Paris 2024 Olympic cycle."Why they've done that midway through a season, and not after the Olympics or during the off-season last year we don't know. It seems unfair to expect professionals to change their method and technique a few days before an event!

However, the rules have changed- so what do they look like?

The New-Look Rules

The important change in the rules is that they have really tightened up their 'lift' calls. There has been no change to the interpretation of double touches. Instead, they are being very tight on 'lift' calls. So the message seems to be to set faster, not necessarily cleaner. So far, so indoor volleyball. Here are the three faults they are now looking for when assessing a 'lift':

Down and Up Contact

This is the so-called 'elevator set'. Where a player takes the ball, brings it below their eyeline, and then pushes it back out again. The FIVB definitely don't want to see this. They don't want to see the ball absorbed in the hand setting contact. They want the player to meet the ball and push it out.

Hold and Release

Like the 'Down and Up Contact', the 'Hold and Release' is all about not absorbing the ball. It's essentially stopping players letting the ball settle in their hands for too long before pushing it out. The FIVB want players to push the ball out straight away, not hold it to negate any spin (which we've seen lots of players doing).

Redirecting the Ball

The final change that the FIVB have made is being much stricter on twisting with the ball. From the example videos that they sent when they made this change, this does not mean that you can't set sideways or reverse.

What it means is that your body must face the same way after the set as when you started it. So, if you start facing the net and then twist as you set it to face the antenna that will be called. So you have to do the setting with your hands/arms, not your body.

What does this mean for the game?

In the short term, it means that there are a lot more whistles and some less attractive volleyball.

However, in the long term we think that it will bring a bit more skill back into the game. Hand setting has always been a skill that takes a while to master, and it should remain so. If the rules are too loose, it allows really big players to set with complete ease, and makes life harder for shorter players who have spent years learnign to set butter.

We don't think that it will change any styles of play long term. Maybe we will see a few more players or teams bump setting, which has largely (Christian Sorum and some Brazilians aside) gone out of the game in the last few years. That could be a good thing, too-a bit more variety.

What do you need to do?

This probably leaves you thinking-what do you need to do to set now? We would suggest thinking about the following key principles:

  • Have a stable base when setting. Make sure your feet are well set, so you can push the ball out straight away.
  • Send the ball where you want to go with a full follow through with your hands (fully outstretched overhead).
  • Don't twist to your target-send the hands there instead.

If you want more help with this, why not sign up for our Beach Boost programme? We have lots of instructional videos and lots of exercises for you to practise setting.


What do you think? Leave us a comment below.

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