What Does "Intermediate" Mean ?
Most intermediate players would understand the descriptions below, but just to be sure everyone knows what "intermediate" means, please be sure you read and agree with the description below. Questions and discussion on the content below are welcome. In short, intermediate play is not beginner or recreational, but neither is it necessarily "advanced". Getting players of a similar level together makes for the best games. It can be "not fun" to play with people who are either too far below or above your level. "Set it Up"
"Intermediate" means that the players understand that, if possible, the first hit is hit by someone other than the setter and goes to the setter, and that the second hit is definitely the setter's ball, unless the setter yells for help, and that the setter, if possible, sets (bump or hand-sets) to a hitter on the front outside, who hits it over.
In a perfect play, there'd be a nice pass to the setter, a nice set, and a nice spike. However, this is "intermediate", not "advanced", so although that perfect-play scenario happens often in intermediate play, it certainly doesn't always happen (unlike in "advanced" play, where this perfect scenario would happen most of the time (but since the other side would supposedly also be advanced, they might very well block your spike)).
In intermediate play, when receiving a serve, the ball can be occasionally bumped over on the first hit, for example, if you're hitting a tough serve and just need to get the ball in play, but otherwise you should bump to the setter.
In intermediate play, the setter can occasionally hit the second hit over, if, for example, the pass is not a good one and the setter can't make a decent set, such as if the pass is off to the side or tight up against the net. But otherwise, the setter should not hit the second hit over but should instead set to a hitter. At opportune times, the setter can occasionally spike it over, but this should be rare, and the setter hitting the ball into the net while attempting to spike it over could warrant scowls from the hitters, if such miss-hits happen with any frequency.Intermediate Play Compared to Recreational Play
In contrast to intermediate play, in "recreational" play there is often no designated setter, people often hit the first or second hit over the net (or hit it out or way off to the side), and rarely is there an attempt to do 3 passes in a bump-set-spike fashion. In recreational play there are often a lot of miss-hits, such as hitting the ball out of bounds. The players are often not all on the same page regarding how they are attempting to pass the ball. To further contrast recreational play vs. intermediate play, it'd be expected, for example, that intermediate players will generally not miss-hit several playable serves or passes in a row, while such a scenario may frequently happen when playing with a beginner / recreational player.
In intermediate play, there can be still a fair amount of occasional miss-hits, such as on really good serves, or "right-idea" passes that go awry. And that's ok. It's not a good thing, though, (and really, not ok) in intermediate play, for:
- someone other than the setter to kind of crash around and hit the second ball (perhaps running into the setter)
- the setter to not set the second ball if there is an ok pass
- the setter to (continually) not ask for help if needed
- the setter to (continually) hit the ball over the net without setting it
- someone in the back row to come up to the net out of position and hit balls that the front row people are expecting to be theirs
- someone to continually bump the first hit over the net on easily-passable balls.
In short, intermediate players should know better and should avoid those things (if possible)Intermediate Play Compared to Advanced Play
In intermediate play, unlike in advanced play, there may not necessarily be a lot of smashed spikes or blocking on every play, but there can be some or quite a bit, depending on the players. In intermediate play, the passing is usually "good, but not great" meaning that the set may be sometimes but not always right on the net. Since the sets in intermediate play may be often off the net, there is usually not as much blocking as in advanced play.
The main thing is that everyone is on the same page regarding passing and positions and who hits what ball. It's fine to occasionally (some days more than others) shank a ball or hit it into the net or hit it out. Encouragement and support are very important. Remember, this is for fun and shouldn't be overly competitive. And remember, this isn't advanced, so being overly picky on someone's sets would not be appropriate, and it should be understood that intermediate players are not advanced in all of their skills. Many intermediate players may not be power hitters. And that's ok. They can still get good hits in, and can often do very well in placing their shots. In contrast, power hitters who have not yet refined their game can actually lose a lot of points for their team by continually hitting the ball into the net or hitting it way long (just getting it over and in is sometimes a good start for everyone).