The Short Overhand Serve Two Strategies For Serving To The Front Row

Your short overhand serve to the front row positions on the court to right front in zone 2, middle front in zone 3 and left front in zone 4 are strategic areas.

Learn why you want to serve short to the front row positions on the opposing teams court when they're in serve receive. 

Use these two short serving tactics on where to place the ball in the opposing team's court in a way that helps you score points for your team.

Here are some overhand serve strategies to try when you're behind the service line during your next game.

Overhand Serve 
To Zone Three and Four

Many players just happen to serve short in the opposing team's court by accident but elite and experienced players serve short on purpose.

They know that the short serve can put the opposing team in difficulty, especially when tall players are in the front row.

What Happens To A Hitter's Spike Approach When You Serve Short

Like airplanes, tall players usually need longer runways to make a strong three step or four step spike approach which helps them gather speed and momentum before jumping high and reaching as high as possible to contact the ball as far above the net as possible before hitting the ball into the court.

A longer runway helps a hitter keep the ball in front of them which allows them to see the opposing team's court while in the air hitting.

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.

So as the player serving the ball, you need to "cut" or shorten the opposing hitter's runway way take off ramp.

Serving the ball short to the players in the front row is one of the sneakiest overhand serve tactics to use because it 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 as much power to hit as hard or as high as they normally would if they weren't passing.

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!

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.

The Overhand Serve To Position 2
The Right Front Zone

The same overhand serve tactics apply here as well in regards to 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 (RF) 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 aim your short serves to the right front player while the setter is coming to the net from behind that right front player 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.


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 right front position in 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 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 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 players.

If this happens then the hitter ends up spiking a ball that is easier for your team to dig up in defense and this scenario is all due to you using one of these smart short serve tactics.

So the next time that you do overhand serve  in practice, make sure you set goals for yourself to make your serves count for points.

Do You Follow Me on Instagram?

Follow me on Instagram @coach_apchap to improve your game even faster!

I share alot of individual, partner and easy-to-do volleyball serving drills we do in class with my followers.

Many of these volleyball practice drills you can do at home by yourself or try at your next practice with your teammates.

If you're a B team or JV player trying to make varsity next year...your goal should be to complete 1000 reps a day of at least three of the basic skills on your own...volleyball passing, serving and setting should be at the top of the list. 

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

Read more about volleyball tactics on these pages.

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