Setting Masterclass with Mark Garcia-Kidd

Beach Volleyball Player Mark Garcia-Kidd making a diving dig


Over the last few years our guest writer for this setting masterclass, Mark Garcia-Kidd, has consistently been one of the top performers on both the domestic and international stage. Internationally, Mark competed for Great Britain at the World University Games in 2016, and has since flourished on the World Tour. He has represented England in China, Hungary, Croatia, France and Rwanda, and this year appeared in the qualifiers at his first FIVB 4* tournament, in Portugal.

Domestically, his accolades include winning the prestigious Weymouth Classic alongside Taylor Wilson, winning the annual Champions Race in 2018, and being voted the best male setter in the UK for 3 years running. This, as he is fond of reminding everyone, makes him the best setter in 4 countries.

Mark’s talent as a hand setter is not just that he has good hands (which he does). He is also very good at setting a wide variety of sets and finding the tempo of his partner. He prides himself on the skill and has worked incredibly hard on it, so I thought now was the perfect opportunity to give us a setting masterclass. Over to you, Mark!

Firstly, I’d like to thank Sam and Fireball for letting me be a part of the volleyball advent calendar. Setting is something I hugely enjoy about the game and I’ll try my best not to overload you or write too much, as it’s a topic I could talk about forever.

Goal of setting

Regardless whether you are a bump (dig) setter or a hand setter, you should have the same goal: put the ball in the hitters’ window. This means getting it to your partner’s hitting arm at the right tempo for them.

Bump setting

Bump setting or dig setting is all about relaxing those forearms and letting the legs do the work. Think of your forearms as pillows, taking all the spin out of the ball and allowing you to put that ball where you want.

For the bump make sure you have your chest facing the pin/post. If you can relax those arms and make this angle you’ll always be pushing the ball on for your partner and creating a better chance to score. If you find yourself close to the net, then go parallel to the net so you don’t overset. 

Hand Setting

Mark Garcia-kidd hand setting for Freddie Bialokoz at an FIVB World Tour event.

Hand setting follows the same methodology, chest facing the pin/post and relaxing the hands and forearms, letting the legs do the work. Those that have ever been coached by me will know how I use the ‘meerkat’ technique. For those of you that are interested about this then please come and find me and ask, or ask those who I’ve coached (you’ll get a laugh out of it for sure!).

but the MOST IMPORTANT thing about hand setting is….

Just be confident and not scared to bust out the paws in training and matches. I would encourage you to watch this video by the Mckibben brothers. It’s all about practise.

Sometimes the VEBT/UKBT has been the strictest tour to handset on with unrealistic expectations making it hard to handset. Sam mentioned in a previous post about the FIVB relaxing handling, and as the Mckibbens say, “setting is a style”. No-one sets the same way much like no-one hits the same jump shot in basketball. Two different setting styles can be similar but never identical-so just because someone sets in an unfamiliar way doesn’t mean it’s wrong!

What makes a good setter

Setting off the pass is the easy bit but what makes a really good setter is being able to set out of defence. stretching and diving to put a ball in an area of attack. This is why Phil Doulhauser and Todd Rogers were such a great team, apart from the blocks; when Todd made a dig Phil put him in a great area to score.

Taking the points from the first few paragraphs, get your chest facing the post/pin and use that as your target, if you can’t face it then try your best to finish your forearms pointing towards the post/pin, engaging the legs and lifting the ball to your target as shown here.


I started out as one of the worst setters on tour and was lucky to play with Carl Butcher (VEBT best setter 2012) in my early days on the VEBT. I never used to hand set and rarely faced the target when I was setting, I was just flinging my arms out and becoming frustrated at my partner not scoring. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

There are so many aspects to setting and I would love to discuss them all, but I feel that it would be dissertations worth of reading. However, I think the two most important things for setting are the confidence to do the skill and finishing to your target, from there you can’t go far wrong. 

I believe that with these two key things and a little coaching on the smaller details you’ll be setting perfect nectar for your partner to feast on. 

Get in Touch

If you have any questions on setting or want to know more feel free to follow me on Instagram (@mgarciakidd) and message me. I’ll be working with various volleyball companies throughout the summer and I’ll be at UKBT events, feel free to grab me and ask away.

Thanks fireball for the chance to write a small bit on setting for your advent calendar. 

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