Overhand Volleyball Serves

Learn Volleyball Serving Strategy 

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photo by Luomen


For certain overhand volleyball serves, you want the ball to be

strategically placed in the opposing team's court in a way that helps

you score points for your team.

Or at the very least, puts the opposing team in such difficulty, that

they can't run an offense against your defensive players. 

Here are some strategies to try when you're behind the service

line during your next game.

Volleyball Serves: Serve The Ball To The Left Front Hitter In Zone Four

If the left front player playing in position four is a swing hitter she has two


First she has to receive the serve and then she has to swing outside to

hit the ball as well. 

To serve a volleyball overhand deep down the line forces the left side

player deeper towards the back of her court.

Using this serving strategy means that, that outside player

has to first back up to pass the ball, then she has to cover a lot of

ground to get back into position to be able to make her usual three or

four step spike approach in order to spike the ball.

This strategy can potentially eliminate that specific left side

front row player as a hitter/attacker, taking her completely out of the

offense, which forces the setter to use only one or two of her remaining

front row players as an option to set to. 

This means she has to set the ball to either her middle blocker or

back set the player behind her playing in zone two, depending on

how many hitters are front row.

Now because of your well-placed serve, your team only has to

worry about blocking against two front row players instead of three.

Iowa Player Serves A Volleyball Overhand
Photo by Jon FravelIowa Player Serves A Volleyball Overhand Photo by Jon Fravel

In other words, you can "play chess"  against the opposing team when

you are serving the ball.

If you see three hitters in the front row, then with your

volleyball serves,you can force one of them to pass the ball from a

deep position in the courtnear the back end line, which will leave

only two front row volleyball players that your blockers and

defenders have to concentrate on. 

That puts your team at an advantage, right?

Force the opposing team to do what you want them to do just by

playing smarter when you are serving the ball.

Volleyball Serves: Serve A Ball To Zone Three and Four

Many players just happen to make short volleyball serves in the

opposing team's court by accident but elite players

serve short on purpose, because they know that the short serve can

put the opposing team in difficulty, especially when tall players

are in the front row.

Like airplanes, tall players usually need longer runways

to make a strong spike approach which helps them hit the ball hard and

in the volleyball court.

If their "runway" is cut short, in other words if the area where they

usually make their long three-step or four-step spike approach is

shortened, then that "airplane" (or tall player in the front row in this

case) has a hard time taking off.

VCU Player Serves A Volleyball Overhand
photo by Henry SternVCU Player Serves A Volleyball Overhand photo by Henry Stern

So as the player with all the power, since you are serving the

ball, you need to "cut" or shorten their runway way off.

Serving the ball short to the players in the front row can often

prevent them from having the time to back up and take their usual long

three or four step spike approach.

If they do get the set, after they passed the short serve they

won't have much time or the strength to hit as hard or as high as

they would if they weren't passing.

So by serving the ball short, you have effectively helped your

team by taking one of the opposing team’s front row players out of

their offense.

Here’s the million dollar question.

How tall do you have to be to learn to how to serve the tall female

player in the front row?

Here’s the answer, it just doesn't matter how tall you are!

How To Fix Your Wimpy Volleyball Serves

What matters is how accurate you can become when serving the

ball to the opposing team’s front row.

You just have to serve the ball 50 times to each of the front

row positions--left front, middle front and right front, before or

after practice so when the pressure is on, you are ready.

Volleyball Serves: Serve A Volleyball Overhand To The Right Front Zone

The same argument applies here about serving the tall player in the front

row especially if she is in the right front position. 

If you see that she is playing in Zone two here's something else

you can look for. 

Look to see if the setter is preparing to come to the net from the

right front position, after the ball has been served.

If you plan to aim your volleyball serves to the right front player

while the setter is coming to the net from behind that right front

player, consider this great idea.

The setter has to track the ball that was passed over her left

shoulder while she is moving towards the net, then she is forced to set the

volleyball quickly. Why?

Because she has very little time to adjust her body and square herself to

her target to set a ball that has been passed right from the position she

just came from.

(Or served right to the position she just came from however you want to

look at the situation.).

No matter what, serving the ball to the front row gives the

opposing team’s setter much less time to track the ball, stop, then

set the ball to one of her front row players especially if she receives an

imperfect pass.

If your volleyball serves going to the opposing team’s front row,

result in an imperfect pass to the setter, then she will have an even

harder time of giving her hitters a good set.

Many times the setter will give her hitters an imperfect set which is a

ball that she is forced to set off the net or to one of her back row


If this happens then the hitter often times will spike a ball that is

easier for your team to get up in defense and this scenario is all due to

you serving the ball strategically at the beginning of the play.

So the next time that you do serve a volleyball overhand in

practice, make sure you set goals for yourself to make your serves count

for points.

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

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