How to Serve a Volleyball

How to serve a volleyball is critical for success in the younger age groups. When first learning how to play volleyball, it's important to learn how to serve. 

Note: Learn to serve overhead as soon as possible. You don't want to make the mistake of serving underhand all the time. With the underhand serve, there isn't skill transfer to any other skill in volleyball. For example, you can't become a great overhead server or spiker from underhand serving. The experience you get from underhand serving won't help you, so beginning learning how to serve a volleyball overhead as soon as possible. 

Advantages to serving overhead...

  • Serving overhead is the same motion you will use any time you hit the ball overhead in a real game. 
  • Improving your overhead serves will improve your spiking. With each repetition of serving the ball using the overhead serving motion, you are actually teaching yourself the same arm-swing as you need to spike a volleyball. 
  • Even when standing on the court and sending the ball over the net during a broken play, being able to hit a "down ball" is important. You will be comfortable with this technique by practicing your overhead serves.

Types of Serves - How to Serve a Volleyball

The High Arc Serve - How to Serve a Volleyball

I like this serve because when you serve in this way, you are less likely to make an error. It can also be easier to hit your targets when you serve like this. 

When you serve the ball with a higher arc, this helps to place the ball short in the court because the ball is coming downward at a sharper trajectory.

And if you send a high arcing serve deep, this ball looks like it's going deep out-of-bounds and many players will make the mistake of thinking the ball is going out when it actually drops in the court. Players are used to seeing a serve that comes in higher end up going out. This makes passing this ball really tough.

The disadvantage of trying to serve short is that you could miss into the net, but if it has a high arc, then you have a better chance of getting the ball over. Also, if you intend to serve short, but don't get it short and it goes a little deeper than short then this ball tends to be really easy to pass. 

How to Hit this Serve

This is different from an ordinary serve in that the toss is slightly back and not in front of the body. In order to hit the ball up, toss the ball more back and contact more of the bottom of the ball. This technique can also be deceptive because it's tough to anticipate whether you are sending the ball short or deep because the toss and contact look the same. 

The Flat Serve - How to Serve a Volleyball

The flat serve doesn't travel as high as the high arc serve. To serve a flat serve really well you need to serve the ball in such a way that it barely clears the top of the net and then the ball drops quickly as soon as it has crossed the net. 

The advantage of the flat serve is that it gets to the opponent quicker so the opponent as less time to react. This can be especially effective the opponent is lined up deep in serve receive.

So, serving this ball is really effective because the ball gets there faster and gets to the floor quicker because the ball isn't going to travel as far.

How to Hit this Serve

You want to toss this ball more out in front of the body than you would on a ordinary serve. This serve tends to be more difficult to master because the toss and contact is critical. If the toss too far out in front of the body, the ball goes in the net. If the toss is too much above the head, the ball can go deep and out-of-bounds. 

Intermediate Deep Serve - How to Serve a Volleyball

This serve can really disrupt the opponents serve receive. If the opponent is lined up in a "W" or "U" serve receive, use this serve. The goal is to force the front row receives to take this ball. If you can get them to receive it, they will end up taking the ball high near the head or shoulders. And if these players aren't skilled at receiving the ball overhead, then this serve will cause a lot of trouble. 

The goal of this serve is to create confusion. If the front row receivers and back row receivers don't communicate well then it's going to be really tough to pass this ball.

Another advantage of this serve is there's a lot less chance of a service error. Even if you serve this ball a little too hard, it's still going to stay in the court and won't drop deep out-of-bounds. 

How to Hit this Serve

Serve this ball in a way so it has a low trajectory and focus on getting the ball there quickly. Aim for a zone or the shoulders of the front row receivers. 

› How to Serve a Volleyball