Main Body

2. Serving

Serving

A serve starts every point in volleyball and is among one of the most important aspects of the game. Because rally scoring is used, a team can lose points if a player is unable to serve the ball over the net and inside the opponent’s court. To be a playable serve, the player serving the ball must:

  • Stand behind the end line anywhere on his/her side of the court (players do not have to stand in the back-right position)
  • Contact the ball before stepping on or over the end line
  • The ball must travel over the net. If the ball hits the net, goes over and still goes into the opponent’s court, it is a playable ball and is good. If the ball hits the net and comes back on the serving team’s court, it is not a legal serve and results in a point for the opponent.
  • The ball must land inside the opponent’s court

There are different types of serves, each with its own benefits. Some serves are easier to learn, some are used to target a specific area on the court, and some are harder to return. Therefore, mastering a good serve can be an offensive weapon.

Underhand Serve

An underhand serve is usually the easiest to learn. Using this serve, beginning players often have better control over where the ball will land and thus are able to target specific areas of the court. Additionally, an underhand is typically easier to return as well. To perform an underhand serve, the player:

  • Stands with non-dominant foot in front
  • Holds ball loosely at hip height in non-dominant hand
  • Creates a fist with dominant hand and rotates arm so that the heel of the hand is facing up
  • Extends dominant arm/serving arm backwards
  • Swings arm forward and hits the ball off the non-dominant hand (like a golf tee)
  • Follow through with the arm

Watch the instructional video below on how to perform an underhand serve.

Overhand Serve

An overhand serve has more speed and power than an underhand serve but is often harder to control (or target where it lands). Players should practice and try to use it since the return for the opponents will be more challenging. To perform a standing serve, the player:

  • Steps forward with the foot opposite the serving hand
  • Tosses the ball, 3-4 feet above your head.
  • Creates a bow and arrow with serving arm
  • Contacts ball with open palm
  • Follows through and transfers weight from back to front

Watch the instructional video below on how to perform an overhand serve.

Float Serve

This is an overhand serve where you don’t put spin on the ball with your toss and hit it with a hard-open hand that stops (like a high five). This type of serve has a lot of movement on it (it wobbles and floats) and can be hard for your opponents to determine what it will do. To perform a float serve, the player:

  • Steps forward with the foot opposite the serving hand
  • Tosses the ball with no spin, 3-4 feet above your head.
  • Creates a bow and arrow with serving arm
  • Contacts ball with open palm, like an exaggerated high-five
  • Follows through and transfers weight from back to front

Watch the instructional video below on how to perform a float serve.

Jump Serve

This serve requires a lot of practice. It is harder to master because it involves a good toss, jumping, and hitting the ball all at the same time. The benefit is that you are higher and farther in the court when contacting the ball; therefore, it drops very quickly after crossing the net and is likely to be the hardest type of serve to return. To perform a jump serve, the player:

  • Stands two to three feet behind the serving line and steps forward with the foot opposite the serving hand
  • Tosses the ball high in the air
  • Steps with dominant foot then non-dominant and then jump
  • Creates a bow and arrow and contacts ball in mid air
  • Contacts ball with the heel of the palm and follows through

Watch the instructional video below on how to perform a jump serve.

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Ch.1 - Volleyball by UGA PEDB Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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