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The MD/DC Volleyball Meetup Group Message Board › Who gets the second touch?

Who gets the second touch?

A former member
Post #: 1
It looks to me a lot of people believe that the second touch in the volleyball game must be done exclusively by a #3. Only in case when #3 is not able to reach the ball that player is supposed to yell “Help!” and only then somebody else is allowed to make a second touch.

Of course, when everything is going according to the plan, first touch is nicely done and the ball successfully passed to #3, then no problem exists and there is nothing to argue about. However, at our, not very professional level, when often happens that the first pass is not going right direction, and the guy who is perfectly positioned sets the ball with his fingers (that is an ideal case) and #3 is running at him like a wreck train, jumps in the air and tries to reach the ball with his fist, misses it anyway and and yells at the other guys that he took “his ball”… That does not make too much sense to me.

I have been explained that if you are currently not the #3 and the ball is coming to you, you have to quickly back off from it (the volley ball) in order to make a space for #3 in order to avoid an interference… And after the second touch is done, everyone is supposed to run back to their positions.

It is often virtually impossible to discuss this issue with players, since they are sure there is a “safety rule” that requires this kind of playing.

Well… I figured that if it is a “safety rule”, one should definitely have to be able to goggle it, right? Well... I tried hard and came up with nothing. There is no even one mentioning on the web of this so called “rule”. That’s weird, right? I went through a number of books about volleyball and written for volleyball coaches and players and again, there was NOTHING about such a “rule”. OK, I did not stop there and watched dozens of volleyball competition videos on youtube web site. I spent dozens of hours and have not seen EVEN ONE occasion where players would do such a thing.

Theory says that these days every team wants to have a setter and his or her responsibility is to make a second touch and set. Setters are specially trained to estimate the situation in a blink of an eye and yell “Mine” (or “Me”) or “Help!”. This is their job and they are the best setters in their teams. No matter where their current position is, they always covered by their teammates to make sure they never have to make the first touch and the first pass is always addressed to the place, where the setter is supposed to get the ball. It is not necessarily position #3. The teams are trained to use a number of different combination, depending on their current setup, players’ preferences, the game flow, their opponents positioning, tactics and bunch of other things like even their today’s luck of attacking by a particular player from a particular position. First pass is normally brought very high, so the setter has enough time to estimate situation, position himself and choose the best way to set an attack.

Now, while playing coed volleyball and #3 tries to apply this completely different conception to himself … This does not make any sense to me.

First of all very often the ball after first (unsuccessful) touch accidentally goes to much better setter then current #3, second of all the other guy (for example #6) could be in perfect, stationary position, ready to make a flawless set and at this point #3 is running at him that forces #6 to quickly back up, often bumping into the players behind him (#1 and #5), stepping on their feet and this way endangering them of pulling the mussel or dislocating or even fracturing the bone… At this point I always want to ask who was that genius that invented this magic and unknown to google “safety rule”. I have a feeling that this guy has no understanding of this outstanding game and very little common sense.

Even more ridiculous the whole circus looks when after the first touch the ball goes really low, so even the guy who is in the best position to “dig” it has a difficult challenge. Nevertheless he runs away from the ball (clearing the space for the #3, according to the infamous “rule”, stepping on players behind him feet) and at this point #3 (who naturally does not have even a fracture of that setter’s special training) yells “Help!” when it was too late to yell even a second ago, when the guy ran away from the perfect spot.
This is really laughable to watch this Ringling Brothers show, my friends.

Well... that was the theory… And after watching dozens of hours of high rank volleyball on the youtube I can tell you, NO ONE ever runs to get the ball if there is a perfectly positioned player, ready to set. NEVER. Even a designated setter. And it makes a perfect sense to me. Pointless running on the field during the game, where one have to run away from the ball and the other one has to run to get the ball is nothing but crazy nonsense. Even though high-level teams always have a designated setter, even they DO NOT EVER do this idiotic stunt. It just does not give you any advantage, does not make any sense and is extremely dangerous from the safety point of view.

My understanding of volleyball on our, amateur level is very simple: At any stage of the game, regardless of whether it is 1st or the 2nd touch (the 3rd one is a different story) the player who is positioned better gets the ball.
“Positioned better” means that he is closer to the ball, ready to act, has no interference. The less you run – the more precise set less mess on the field you create. As simple as that.

So, I guess my question is: Is there anyone who can explain to me who was the genius who invented this nonsense and why are people so stubborn even to think about this “rule” absurdity?
user 3938290
Group Organizer
Kensington, MD
Post #: 128

the better, more prepared teams, particularly with coed VB, HAVE at least ONE backup setter, minimum..........sometimes two.

In that context, one of the other two is likely in proximity to the ball. That said, if either the primary or secondary setters are not in a position to set a ball coming right at the Right or Left front line hitter, He/SHE CAN call "I GO" and set that ball. In THat context, the first hitter functioning as a setter Should be setting the opposite side Hitter to spike the crap out of his set, slamming it to the floor on the other side of the net.

The logical move is to be active, aggressive, assertive. Do NOT shy away from the ball. I have had women setters take a ball off of my nose, when I stood stock still as a ball was coming straight at me AND they had called their ball. I simply froze in my tracks and they did their job.

But, yes, you are right. If a team is playing LOW level coed rec ball, the level of athleticism and competence MAY be lower and so the setter cannot motor consistently to get to the ball. In those instances, if the players can acknowledge their faults ahead of time, they can discuss likely outcomes and reach a mutual group decision about the instance that you have described.

IDEALLY, the designated setter gets EVERYTHING. I have seen HS girl setters who ran all over the court like a speedster, making her teammates Look like pros because she was so FAST, so mobile, so willing to slide on the floor, throwing their body around to keep the ball in play and in position to attack. But we adults tend to be so much slower to the ball and so much less willing to dive for any reason, whatsoever.
A former member
Post #: 2
Thanks for the reply, Steverino. I agree with your every word, however I was speaking about the lower level teams, that do not have any designated setter, but just rotate during the game and somehow people get a wrong idea about current #3, that is no better setter that any one else...
That case presents a problem for me. On my view people sometimes just go nuts and screw up the game badly.

Merry Christmas to everyone and happy volleyball to you, my dear fellas.
user 3938290
Group Organizer
Kensington, MD
Post #: 129

My suggestion to you is to shop around and find yourself a better quality level of fellow Vb players.............if you HAVE that choice....
A former member
Post #: 3
That's a good one... You probably noticed that I did, but there is not too much activity where I live. Should I maybe move to DC? biggrin
user 3938290
Group Organizer
Kensington, MD
Post #: 130

If you LIVE in Sykesville, I would have to tend to agree, somewhat. However, there ARE two venues of which you should be aware.

I am going to assume that you already PLAY at the VolleyBall House in Elkridge on Furnace Drive??
IF that is the case, your complaints were about the level of play THERE, correct?

I suggest that you pile into your car and hie yourself south of that location about 3 miles. Go to the industrial park where Patuxent Range Road is and make a left turn onto in from Route 1 heading South. Go about 2-4 blocks and turn left again onto Preston Drive. Go into the parking lot of the large building on your left. Park your vehicle and go inside the double glass doors. You pay $5 for the night on Fridays to play from 6-12. The level of players here is definitely higher than at the VBH. Ceilings are higher and there is more competence. Unfortunately, there CAN be more attitude as well. But, all in all, it WILL raise the level of your game.

Give it a shot and let me know your thoughts. Also, there is the Greenbelt Sportsplex located on Good Luck Road north of Greenbelt Road, off of Soil Conservation Drive, just north of DuVal High School.

Throw in the Rockville Sportsplex in Rockville across from Champions Field House, the TWO Laurel, Md. gyms that are good for VB plus the entire Montgomery County system of gyms (10 or more) that host VB and the answer is a resounding should move. The only really smart question is specifically WHERE.

Just me tossing in my two cents......
A former member
Post #: 4
Thank you, Severino. I appreciate your suggestions.
I played only locally, in the local Merritt Athletic Club and local schools. Every other place is about 50 min away and from I've read on the web all of them are pretty crowded. I am not a young guy any more and somehow I've been hesitating to try it. I blame my natural shyness for this :)
For the same two reasons have never been to the Elkridge VBH and I think this is the closest descent place to me, though it is still about 40-50 min away. But you are right, I definitely have to try it.
The reason for my post was my confusion and frustration, since I've heard the same weird "safety rule" from a quite few people here, so I thought that it was either some Maryland's invention or something that I did not knew or understand. You can say it was just a cry of desperateness... just to make sure I am not crazy :)
Thanks again for the discussion and I hope some day I could have a chance to meet and chat with you personally.
I would also like to say a few words about the attitude that you have mentioned. Unless you participate in real competition, volleyball is supposed to be fun, isn't it? That is why I do not understand why people very often get competitive and even angry instead of just enjoying the team environment and satisfaction from both the physical activity and collective thinking. I have never had a problem with somebody taking the ball as you said, "off of my nose", but have seen a lot of people who are literally drawing circules around each player and watch their moves really jealousy. Do you think it is just a reflection of the general of feeling envy, that is sooooo popular these days?
user 3938290
Group Organizer
Kensington, MD
Post #: 131

It is STEVERINO, not Severino.

I am going to Mapquest Sykesville and see what I can find for you. I believe that the nearest venue for you is with the Owings Mills Volleyball Meetup. I suggest that you Google their website, join up and go out to several of their open gym pickup sessions.

I did a Mapquest search and see now where Sykesville is located. You are equidistant from the Owings Mills VB meetup group, the Columbia VB meetup group that plays only OUTSIDE on sand currently AND the Damascus Community Center that has VB on Monday evenings. I suggest that you contact the Organizers for the two Meetup groups and call the Damascus CC management. THe Montgomery County Rec Dept gym ACCESS card costs $45 per year for out of county residents. I believe that McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., has Volleyball facilities on their campus and probably have an adult outreach program so I would call them as well.

Aleksander, you reall ARE in the middle of nowhere, my friend. Try doing some searches. There are often small independent groups of VB players who rent local gyms at elementary and middle schools in your own little town. See if you can talk to your neighbors and see if anyone knows of any such arrangements.....

I wish that I could be of more help to you. But even any Frederick VB groups would be a schlep for you to make. Take care.

A former member
Post #: 5
Hi Steverino,
I apologize for a typo I made in your nick-name.
I appreciate you going out of your way trying to help me. I do know about all the venues you have mentioned, however there are few things that discourage me. The groups are too big and I do not want to be an unwanted extra guy and a quite some driving envolved. Like you said...I am really in the middle of nowhere.
I have tried hard to find some other groups in that are playing in local schools, spoke to a few people in Freedom Area Rec Council office. They are nice people and they did their best to help me and was happy for a while, playing with a nice people, however the same stupidity has started again and I am sick and tired of fighting and explaining to the people who do not want to think and listen.
Also before the holidays tried to communicate to the guys I mentioned in my post and have played with for a few years. I invited their leader Bill to present his point of view here, but it looks like he is not going to do it. I hoped they reviewed their position but it did not happen.

Here is my communication if you're interested:
You might be interested in participating the discussion by presenting your point of view:
Who gets the second touch? {link to this page}
Have a nice holidays,
I hope you understand that how you have explained us at merrit is inaccurate and mildly offensive. You have made it seem as though we are all low level players that do not know the rules of the game.

I don't know what is about me, or the other experienced players at merritt that you do not find as a reliable volleyball source. I have been playing for 10 years, Kristen has been playing for 15 and Bryan has been playing virtually his whole life.

Playing the setter always gets the second ball unless they call for help is such a standard, that arguing against it is like arguing against 3 hits per side. We did not make this rule up, we play it because it is how it is played everywhere. Some videoes online might be confusing because some teams run 6-2 offense, which means they have two setters, one for the front row and one for the backrow. There is still always a assigned setter and they always have the first opportunity to get the ball.

If you want to be a better player, you have to play the way the game is played at its highest level. Sure we could all stand around and have the person that the ball goes to play it, but then we will never get any better. There are skills being developed for the setter who is practicing going after errant passes and there is practice for the person knowing where to be while the setter goes after the ball.

You are clearly a succesful, intelligent person who can respect doing things the right way, even if they might feel awkward at first. If you want to be a better player, you need to play the right way. If you go out and explore A and B level volleyball at the volleyball house, which is the level that some of us at Merritt play, you will find that all of these games are played with a designated setter that has first opportunity at the passed ball. Only in level C and below, where players don't really know the rules, do they without a disignated setter or have the person that the ball goes to set the ball.

I am sorry that your unwillingness to trust us has caused you to stop playing, as you are always welcome to play anytime.


There is no such a rule and you will never find any reference to it on the web.
My description was very accurate on my view and if it was mildly offensive – that is because that you feel that something is really wrong with you, guys.
And finally, if you add your 10 years, Kristen's 15 and Brian's "whole life", you might get near the number 40 that is my number of years, playing this game, so it is a bad indicator.
I invited you to participate a discussion and be my guest – defense your rule at the forum.
I still do not understand how smart people like you do not even try to understand what I am trying to explain. You are still talking about completely different situation.

Have a nice life and happy holidays,


I do not want to go back and forth over email, especially if you are not willing to respect my accurate and experience based knowledge of how volleyball is played.

I am sorry that you are going to allow this to stop you from playing with us.

Please go to the volleyball house ( on any Friday night and watch them play, if you are not willing to believe me.


Thanks for a reply. You still do not understand my point which is there is no designated setter in your either team. Sorry, I can not explain it better that I already did.


So it looks like this "second touch" desease is unconquerable анд highly contagious in where I live, so I just decided to give the whole volleyball thing up.

Volleyball is supposed to be fun, not a fight, right? :)


user 3938290
Group Organizer
Kensington, MD
Post #: 132

In ANY kind of league play except maybe Rec level, the second ball is ASSUMED to be the responsibility of the setter. However, if a ball caroms off the first touch's hands right at another player, it is HIGHLY unlikely that the setter will have any play on that ball. In that kind of circumstance, one's team is just happy that they can get the ball up off the floor and back across the net. HOWEVER, by and large, as in 90% of the time or more, the SETTER should get every second ball in order to be able to set it to the two hitters on either side plus a 10 to the Middle Back as well, if they feel so moved.

In an organized team, the setter functions as the quarterback, calling the plays for the other players to execute, IF the team is organized. So, a 5 is a set to the outside hitter on the setter's left. A 4 is a back set to the hitter on the setter's right. A 2 & a 3 are both quicksets where either of the two hitters spikes the ball as it is rising just to the height of the net. A 10 is a set to the MB for a spike across the middle starting behind the Attack Line. So, if a team IS organized, they can do so much more than just react to their opponents.

That said, in THIS situation, likely almost EVERY second ball goes to the Setter to put into play. If you want references, I would suggest that you look at the NCAA, NFHS and USAV rule books to get written verification for your needs. You may wish to look up the FIVB rules as well.

So, NO, not every 2nd ball Goes to the setter. But in theory, that is what is what a team wants to happen. Broken plays are the one where another player sets the ball instead. Sometimes they will garner a point or sometimes they fail horribly.

Alex, I suggest that you check out the OWINGS MILLS VB Meetup. They seem a lot more laid back than your Merritt Athletic Club group and not as judgmental. Just because you question someone does not mean that they need to cop an attitude. I run this group and I get players challenging me on any number of topics. I know Organizers in other groups who simply BAN them and kick them out. My point of view is to let them vent their spleen and then ASK THEM to pitch in and help effect positive change. Almost without exception, none of them is sufficiently motivated to put in any effort to make things better and so they go away and shut up. Personally, I would welcome their help. But they are not motivated to actually make things better. So, if you want to effect change, be willing to put in some effort to make thing better,.

Just saying......
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