Aug. 20, 2011
By Jon Cooper
One woman’s useful tool can be another’s not-so-useful one.
Take the “Setter’s Eye.”
The Setter’s Eye is a mobile, netted, cylindrical stand, that extends to around 13-feet high and has an opening at the top.
An invention credited to former USA Volleyball National Team Coach Yoshi Toshida, “The Eye” is used by setters to practice their feeds and improve the accuracy of them. It’s much like a basketball hoop.
“It’s pretty common in gyms,” said Georgia Tech’s head volleyball coach Tonya Johnson, whose team held its annual Gold/White Scrimmage Saturday afternoon at O’Keefe Gym. “It’s for them to have a visual as to where their ball is and if it is going to the right spot. We love the setter’s eye and what it provides for our setters in regards to feedback.”
While Johnson loves the information she can gain from “The Eye,” former setter and current student assistant coach Mary Ashley Tippins recalls not being as enamored with it initially.
‘Mash’ doesn’t deny that it improved focus. Her problem with it was what it led her to focus on.
“I hated ‘The Eye,'” she said with a laugh. “It wasn’t my friend. I’d get nervous because I’d focus too much on getting the ball in there when you’re just supposed to be focusing on technique. I was just so worried about being perfect on every set that I made. If I didn’t make it I’d get so frustrated.”
The team’s current setters, sophomore Kaleigh Colson and freshman Ali Santi, don’t share that level of frustration, even though both admitted that they fell into the trap of occasionally focusing more on their accuracy in putting the ball in the hole than on their technique.
“That happened a little bit earlier today, focusing too much on the result and not the process of getting it,” said Colson after one practice. “It depends on the day, I guess, but I don’t really mind it.”
“Today, when Coach Craig [Bere] was talking about my footwork, if I did my footwork right but I missed the basket I’d kind of still be bummed out, versus if I did the wrong footwork and I made it in,” said Santi. “I was more focused on getting it in the basket. So I have to shift my focus to what they’re talking about and not worry about where it goes at first.”
Santi has a little more of a soft spot for “The Eye,” as she was a basketball player in high school, leading Punahou High School to back-to-back state championship games her final two years. She also comes from a basketball family, as her mother, played college hoops for four years (1980-84) at Pacific.
“I was more of a shooter than anything else,” she said. “I wasn’t really good at anything else. So I guess it’s good, seeing that, it reminds me of basketball.
“It’s kind of two different things,” she added. “It’s the same level of focus, it’s kind of like shooting a free throw, when you’re setting into the cylinder. I like it because you know where your location is, if you miss it, you’re kind of like, ‘Oh,’ versus if someone is catching it, you don’t really know if it’s right on point.”
Tippins actually softened her stance on “The Eye” some as she recalled her days growing up playing basketball.
“When I played basketball I practiced free throws all the time,” she said. “So, it’s kind of similar because you want the ball to be consistent. So that’s what that big eye is there for.”
Maybe it’s not all bad, after all.