In the early 1990’s as Australia established a full-time, centralised, National Team program and sought to catch up with the rest of the world, ties were logically created with the United States. They were after all the reigning Olympic champions, were culturally similar and had invented the centralised concept, or at least the version of it that we sought to emulate. During that time various exchanges were conducted, mostly amongst coaches as the teams were not similar in level. The exchange that I personally participated in, was a visit to Australia by Harlan Cohen. Cohen had worked for a long time in the US at a variety of levels, including a stint coaching the women’s National Team. At the time he came to Australia he was in his 60’s and, from memory, was working with Marv Dunphy at Pepperdine as a consultant. He was definitely an interesting character and the theme of his visit was setting.
He had a lot of drills and theories that he applied and presented in National Team trainings and other sessions. A few of things that come to mind are recommending that setters do some hand exercises in a bucket of rice for strengthen purposes, a lot of footwork exercises that setters did every day and the requirement that the ball should be passed low and fast to the top of the tape so that the offence could be fast. Those are all very useful and interesting, but the greatest influence that Harlan Cohen had on me, was to introduce to me the concept of the ‘Setter’s Rules’.
The ‘Setter’s Rules’ were training rules that held effect in every single drill throughout practice, regardless of the specifc goals of the drill. They were designed to emphasise and consolidate the techniques, skills and behaviours that were required of setters. I have used them in different situations over the years, particularly with younger players. I can remember a particular coaching situation I was involved in where the team only trained once a week. Individual technical training under those circumstances was not possible. But simply by applying the ‘Setter’s Rules’ in practice my setters made enormous progress, in every area. I can highly recommend them at every level.
1. THE SETTER MUST PLAY EVERY SECOND BALL
2. THE SETTER MUST SET EVERY BALL WITH HIS / HER HANDS
3. THE SETTER MUST ALWAYS JUMP SET
I have also found one of the actual information sheets that Cohen shared, a specfic conditioning program for setters. Interestingly, my team uses all of the medicine ball exercises with all our players. Note the ‘Bucket of Rice’ exercise and I don’t recall what an ‘Arm Sprint’ is.