Phenomenology Project Study

Phenomenology is the idea on how individuals experience things and interpret these experiences. There are many ways to engage in a phenomenal perspective. In my project, I chose to think about the physicality of doing something. Here, I studied volleyball because I am very familiar with the sport since I participate in it. In volleyball, being on the court and being off the court can be very different and similar at the same time. When a player steps foot on the court, its quick, on the spot thinking, more pressure, and only a few seconds for hitters to talk to their setter. When you are on the bench, you are focusing on what you can do in the future to win, what needs improvement with your teammates or figuring out mistakes, suggestions, running different plays or lineups, etc. You are also still engaged in the game as you are on the court being prepared to go into the game at any moment, but you have less pressure and more time to think about any essential parts to the game.

Here is a good example of what the game looks like. There are allowed only three contacts total on the receiving side. First, a serve to the other side (receiving side), the receiving side demonstrates a pass, a set, and a then a hit, all in the first 11 seconds of the video.
As you can tell from the video, a lot of communication is needed in this game or else negative consequences may happen such as: the ball dropping on the floor, or teammates running into each other which may lead to serious injuries. In the video, you can hear a lot of yelling, or talking, which is everyone on the court trying to communicate. The communication may sound like gibberish to people who are not familiar with the game.

Looking into a phenomenal perspective, hitters always call their sets, or the play they are running, by saying it repeatedly. The definition of a “setter” is considered to be the most important position. A setter is in charge of offense, setting the ball up for their hitter to attempt a hit. In simpler terms, a setter can be described as “the quarterback of volleyball”. A “set” is usually the second contact of the ball. When a hitter “kills” the ball, it means they won the point and the defending side couldn’t defend the hitters ball. Usually the set is a number, for example, many would say “4,4,4” very loud and fast. A “4” ball is a basic high set ball, sent to the left side of the court. They say this number three times naturally without even realizing it, even though they don’t have to say the number three times.

Here is a short video clip on what a set looks like. This would be the second contact in volleyball. The first set the setter attempted in the video was a “4” ball, which is what I used in my example here. The man catching the ball would be the hitter in the game.

I decided to interview three of my teammates on why hitters call the set three times, or multiple times. First, I interviewed Makenna who is a setter. When I asked her why hitters call the ball multiple times she said, “Saying something three times is just the right amount of times to say something, where it’s annoying enough to get people’s attention. For example, that’s why when you were little it took three times of saying ‘Mom’ to finally get her to listen, because you said it enough for it to be annoying…”

Next, I interviewed Krista who is a hitter. When I asked Krista about it she said, “Repetition helps for them to hear what you want. They’re listening to other hitters so it helps to re-enforce what you want.”

Finally, I interviewed Wren who is also a setter. Wren answered, “Communicate is better. There’s so much going on if you only call it once there’s a chance your setter might not hear it… like calling it over and over is just trying to make sure your setter hears it, also it kinda signifies you want the ball. I’m more likely gonna be confident that you’re gonna kill it if you sound like you really want the ball, whereas if you call once I’m gonna question if you want to be set.”

Below are pictures of setters communicating hand signals to their hitter right before the serve begins. They only have a few seconds to communicate this. The setter wants to communicate so they can set up the perfect ball for the hitter to get the point. After the serve, when this side is receiving the ball, the hitter needs to reassure that they want to hit the ball from the setter, so they are repeating it loud and confident.

The Lo-Down: How Setters Signal | Hail Varsity
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A Simple Guide to Volleyball Positions and Rotations - Pro Rec Athlete
Here is a simple lineup of how coaches may set up the game for their team.

Coming to a conclusion, we can question, “Why do the hitters repeat the ‘set’ three times in a row?”. Based on my interviews with my teammates, they all said similar answers – calling the ball multiple times gets the setters attention better. Based on my experiences on playing the sport, I can suggest that since volleyball is so fast paced at short moments, they repeat to keep the high intense energy while getting the setters attention quickly so they can make up their mind on who to set and who they are confident in to kill the ball.

Here are my field notes planning my project.

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