When you learn how to serve a volleyball you have three types of service to choose from.
The underhand serve in volleyball is most often the first serve you learn because its easy to control the ball.
The sidearm service in volleyball is a form of underhand serve but your serving arm is extended out to your side and you contact the ball on the face of your closed fist.
The side arm serve allows you to serve underhand but with alot more pace, speed and direction to the ball.
You most likely see alot of coaches use the sidearm serve during passing and serving volleyball drills.
The overhand serve in volleyball is used in high school, college and in all advanced national and international and beach competition.
You see it used in the following forms:
In order to begin a rally, the player in Zone 1 is required to serve the ball from behind the service line over the net into the opposing team's court, after the referee has blown the whistle.
If you plan on getting alot of playing time or even making your varsity team, you have to know how to serve a volleyball overhand so your team can compete.
The players who know how to serve tough get the most playing time.
When you learn how to serve a volleyball, even though it's your hand that makes contact with the ball,
That should help explain ahead of time why much of my advice on how to serve a volleyball is concentrated on the correct positioning of your feet and lower body.
When you're first practicing your serve, your ball may not always go where you want it to but no matter what, you always want to serve the ball with a purpose.
Remember that you want to have a place or a person to aim for when you serve the ball in the opposing team's court.
You need to identify a location on the opponent's court where your serve creates the most difficulty for the opposing team to run their offense.
Watch Washington State Cougar Alexis Dirigis overhand jump float serve technique.
Let's say you decide to serve down the line towards the opposing team's left side hitter.
In order to begin the serve we first start with how your feet should be positioned. If you are a right hander you should place your right foot parallel to your left foot so both feet are parallel to each other. Yes, this makes them parallel to the net AND the service line also.
This means your left hip and left tossing arm should be pointed straight ahead and aimed at the target you want to serve.
Your body should be opened up and perpendicular to the net, facing the wall on your right with feet and hips parallel to the service line and the net.
If you decide to serve cross court to the opposing team's zone one (1) area, then your hip should be pointing cross court and so should your tossing arm.
You should have all your body weight equally distributed on both feet.
This should be a very comfortable position. Even though your feet are pointed towards the wall on your right, the heels of both of your feet should be on the ground.
The only lower body movement needed when you serve the ball will be a very very slight step with your left foot, in place, required when you pivot your body weight from your right foot to your left foot, after you toss the ball two feet in the air.
Your non-serving arm should be extended straight out to the side of your body, parallel to your hip and holding the ball that you will toss in the palm of your hand. This is the arm that you will be tossing the ball in the air with.
This would be the left arm for right handers and the right arm for lefties. It needs to be held comfortably straight out to your side and pointing directly at the target you intend to serve to.
photo by Luomen
Some people start with this hand down by their side. When you do this, it adds more movement to your floater volleyball serve technique which is unnecessary.
Make sure the starting position for your left arm is straight out to your side, not down by your waist.
I can tell you that when you first learn how to serve you will underestimate the importance of the toss.
Don't worry everyone does.
Here's what you need to know.
Without a good consistent toss you can't serve the ball.
The toss is one of the most important elements of the serve.
As you learn how to serve a volleyball, you will realize that getting the ball over the net depends also on developing consistent tossing skills.
With your left arm pointed at your target, toss the ball no more than two to three feet in the air.
If you tossed the ball correctly the ball will land about 6 to 12 inches in front of your front foot.
Every time you toss the ball, if you were to let your toss fall to the ground then the ball should fall several inches in front of your front foot.
Your goal should be to toss the ball in the same way every time you serve.
You want to become a consistent serving machine so you need to develop a toss that always goes up in the same place and comes down in the same place...I tell my players...two feet up in the air and 10-12 inches in front of your left foot.
Let me repeat...once again your toss should be two feet up in the air and 10 inches in front of your left foot.
If you toss the ball to the left or the right of your front foot several things happen.
First a ball tossed too far to either side will force you off balance.
Once you are off balance, then you will be forced to chase your tossed ball. "Chasing your toss" means that you will have to adjust your serving arm to go chase your bad toss.
When you do this your body is no longer facing the target you intended to serve and you won't serve in the direction you are aiming for.
When your toss is in front of your front foot then your toss will be in front of your serving shoulder which should then keep everything in line for you to serve the ball right where you want it to go.
When the toss is too far to the left or right of your front foot then you are much less likely to serve the ball to your intended target.
Your serving arm should be held fully extended above your head, and fully extended above your non-serving arm with your fingertips with the palm of your serving hand slightly turned and fingers held wide.
After you toss the ball, step forward on to your left foot as you make a quarter turn to go from facing the wall on your right to facing the net.
During your turn its very important to keep your elbow high, above the level of ear, as your arm comes forward at the same time your hips do...to high five the ball.
This is where players make a second crucial mistake once they learn how to serve a volleyball.
Many tend to drop their elbow to shoulder level or below, when they pull their elbow back to serve.
Not only does this increase the possibility of shoulder irritation or injury but it lowers your chances of serving the ball over the net.
After you've made your toss and when you are contacting the ball you want to WATCH the middle of your hand, contact the middle of the ball.
The part of your palm that's at the base of your fingers.
Learning how to serve overhand is the one thing you can count on that will help you get on the playing court. If you have a deadly serve, then your varsity coach WILL notice. Trust me.
Anybody who can score points with a great serve from the service line, I promise you boo boo, their coach will make sure they get in the game.
That's why its super important to learn how to serve overhand and to make your serve so good and so tough that your coach will be forced to say..."I have to play her or him" because I know we will score points with her serve.
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