by Terry Pettit
The advantage of having a left handed attacker behind the setter is that it is easier for the attacker to hit out of system sets, particularly those sets that are off the net. There is also a advantage in running the X play with a left side attacker because it is slightly easier for a lefty to rotate her hips and attack cross body to zone 5.
The advantage of having a right handed attacker behind the setter is that if the spiker learns to make a slightly inside out approach she can adjust to inconsistent sets that travel past the antenna by going off one foot and hitting a slide attack. The setter can be trained to error wide to a right-handed attacker. If the setter errors wide to left-handed attacker it usually results in an error or a weak attack. A trap set that falls low and inside to both right and left-handed attackers is a recipe for disaster.
There are other advantages to being right-handed attacker behind the setter. The tip and other off speed shots can be more effective for right handed attacker behind the setter because it is more difficult to read. Why? Because the set travels across the attackers body it is easier for the right-handed player to delay the arm-swing and disguise the tip. It is also easier for a right-handed player in system to use the block because the attack hand is closer to the sideline and she can wipe the ball off of the block and out of bounds.
The most important thing in right side attack is not whether or not the attacker is left handed or right handed but consistent footwork and the length of her first step in a three step approach.
Every right side attacker that I coached was trained to load her hips as the setter moved under the ball, so she could make an explosive and relatively long first step to the ball. Her initial step was at least as long, if not longer than her step close. I wanted my right side attackers adjusting to the location of the set as soon as possible and not end up long jumping on the step-close which can result in the attacker drifting past or under the ball and hitting out of her body line, resulting in an error. Unless an attacker is unusually strong, a long step close usually results in a drifting approach that leads to a net violation.
Because she is operating in a relatively small space, compared to a left side attacker, a right side player must have been trained in exceptional footwork to be effective, and that trumps whether or not she attacks with her left or right hand.
-- Terry Pettit is the author of Talent and the Secret Life of Teams and other articles on coaching volleyball at www.terrypettit.com