The Volleyball Serve Definition

Volleyball Serves and Serving Terms Explained

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photo by Luomen

What's the volleyball serve definition?

A serve in volleyball is an offensive weapon and the first chance for a

player to score a point.

When used intelligently it can help you and your team score easy

points from the baseline.

The list of terms below describe various types and forms of volleyball

serves players use to start a rally.

I suggest learning these to increase your volleyball IQ.

What's the volleyball serve definition for the "let serve"?

The let serve was created because of a rule change made by the

powers that be (FIVB)  to increase the speed of the game, to make it

more appealing to television audiences and spectators by reducing the

pauses that occur between plays. 

Initially a served ball couldn't touch any part of the net as it passed

over it to start the rally.

But with the new rule, if the ball touches the net, the referee is

allowed to "let" the play continue so the players on serve receive must

be ready to continue to play the ball.

What is the volleyball serve definition for the "overhand serve?"

The overhand volleyball serve describes what happens

when a player tosses the ball with one hand about two feet up in the

air, steps towards it, and raises their other arm to perform a bow and

arrow arm movement, keeping their elbow high above their ear,

contacting the ball with an open hand to propel it over the net and into

the opposing volleyball team's court, which starts the rally.

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photo by Luomen

In competitive volleyball in high school, club, college and professional

indoor and beach leagues and competition,  the overhand serve is the

most popular form used to start the rally when serving.

Various forms of the overhand serve include the floater serve, the

topspin serve and the jump serve. All these types of serves require the

player to make contact with the ball over their head.

If you hear someone call this an "overhand" serve or an "overhead"

serve, they are referring to the same type of volleyball serve. 

What is the volleyball serve definition for a service error?

According to the rules of volleyball a service error is committed when a

player fails to start a rally by getting the ball over the net with their


This can happen if a player serves the ball over the net and it

a) lands outside of the other team's court,

b) if the ball doesn't cross the net or

c) if the server steps on the service line and commits a foot fault.

What is the volleyball serve definition for a "sky ball?"

Beach volleyball players use this style of a serve in volleyball to take

advantage of the wind and the sky.

By serving the ball more than 20-30 feet into the air, they force the

opposing passers to take their eyes off of the court in order to visually

track the ball.

Because of the brightly lit sky and the wind currents, it makes it difficult

for passers to pass the light colored ball since it can get lost against

the light colored background of the sky or get moved around alot in the

wind currents.

What is the definition for an underhand serve?

The underhand serve describes one of the first basic skills in

volleyball beginners learn.

A player begins the rally by tossing a ball with one hand two feet up in

the air, steps towards it, and swings her other arm back behind her

before quickly swinging it forward to contact the ball with a closed fist

or closed palm to serve it over the net.

Meet Tatoo the Tiger, Serving Specialist on 
VolleyBragSwag's All Beast Team

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