What's The Most Proper Volleyball Serve Technique? Learn 5 Serve Terms

What's the most proper volleyball serve technique to know? Learn the five serve terms for the let serve, sky ball serve, the overhand and the underhand serve.


Before I get into the specific types of volleyball serves, it's important to understand what a volleyball serve is and its role in the game.

Serving in volleyball is a fundamental skill, marking the beginning of every play. It's the only technique that every player can execute individually, it sets the tone for each rally, and its the one skill a player can do by themselves in order to score a point.

A serve is a strategic way to launch the ball into play,  that is made from behind the end line, across the net, into the opponent's court.

The objective is to make it as challenging as possible for the receiving team to return the ball and thus to gain an advantage.

Mastering different serve techniques opens up alot of strategic opportunities, and can not only interrupt the opponents' tactics but also create scoring opportunities for your own team.

Having a strong, accurate, and consistent serve can give the player and their team a significant edge in the game.

With that in mind, let's take a detailed look at the various types of volleyball serve techniques and how to execute them.


Equipment Needed for Practicing Volleyball Serves


Being equipped with the right gear can significantly aid in perfecting your serve technique in volleyball. Here are the essentials:

1. **Volleyball**:

The key piece of equipment, of course, is the volleyball ball itself.

There are different types of volleyballs for indoor, beach, and outdoor play, so ensure you're using the one suited to your practice environment.

2. **Comfortable Sports Attire**:

Wearing appropriate athletic wear that permits full range of motion is essential. This includes comfortable volleyball sneakers with good grip for indoor practice.

3. **Knee Pads**:

Some beginners might find volleyball knee pads useful for protection when diving for the ball during serve-receive drills.

4. **Nets**:

While you can practice serves without a volleyball net, having one can provide a better understanding of serving angles and height.

5. **Cones or Markers**:

These volleyball cones can be helpful for target practice in serving drills. Set them up in different zones of the court to work on your serve accuracy.

6. **Additional volleyballs**:

Having multiple volleyballs can make your serve practice sessions more efficient as it allows for repeated serve trials without running to fetch the ball after each serve.

Remember, the quality of your practice heavily influences the improvement of your serve technique, so investing in the right equipment is an important step in that direction."



What's Proper Volleyball Technique For Different Types of Serves


There are quite a few different types of service techniques in volleyball , but what's the most proper volleyball serve technique you need to know? 

  • the let serve
  • overhand serve
  • sky ball serve
  • underhand serve
  • service error


The 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 of volleyball serve techniques players use to start a rally.

I suggest learning these to increase your volleyball IQ.


Proper Volleyball Serve Technique
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 and
  • 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 serving 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.



Proper Volleyball Serve Technique:
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.


Overhand serve training in my Boot Camp classes during August post summer high school prep volleyball classes. 

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.


     Proper Volleyball Serve Technique:

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


Proper Volleyball Serve Technique: 
Sky Ball Serve


Beach volleyball players use this style of a serve in volleyball to take advantage of the wind and the light colored 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.

It was much harder when the official beach volleyball ball was only white but in recent years they've changed the color of the balls so that players play with balls that are multi-colored, that are much easier to see against the bright sky.


Proper Volleyball Serve Technique: 
How To 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 underside of the ball with a closed fist or closed palm

to serve it over the net.


Proper Volleyball Serve Technique: 
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 serve.

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.


Professional Tips to Enhance Your Serving Technique


Now that we have covered various serve techniques and the equipment necessary to practice them, let's move onto some expert advice from professional players and coaches.

Here are a few pro tips to enhance your serve:

Addi works on her jump float serve toss consistency while aiming for a deep line serve to Zone 5. 


1. **Consistency is Key**:

Even the most powerful serve is ineffective if it doesn't get over the net. Prioritize consistent serving over power, and as your technique improves, gradually introduce more power to your serves.

2. **Vary Your Serves**:

Keep your opponents guessing by varying your serves - change up the speed, angle, and location of your serve to disrupt their receiving rhythm.

3. **Use Your Whole Body**:

Many beginners make the mistake of serving with their arm strength alone. Incorporate your whole body into your serve by shifting your weight from your back foot to your front foot as you serve.

4. **Mental Preparation**:

Volleyball is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Visualize where you want your serve to go before you execute it. A clear mental image can help improve accuracy.


5. **Practice Under Pressure**:

Practice serves at the end of a practice or after physical training, when you're tired. It simulates the feeling of serving in a high-stakes game situation where fatigue can affect performance.

           Volleyball Serving Drills My 10                   "Coach April Overhand Serve Volleyball Tips

Always remember, practice makes perfect. The more serves you practice, the better your serving technique will become."


Frequently Asked Questions About Proper Volleyball Serve Technique


1. **Question**: How can I improve my volleyball serve?


**Answer**:

Regular practice is key to improvement. Additionally, you can focus on elements such as having a consistent toss, utilizing your whole body for the serve, aiming for different target areas on the court, and varying the speed and spin of your serve. It can also be beneficial to work with a coach or more experienced players for specific tips and feedback.


2. **Question**:

What kind of serve gives the most control?

**Answer**:

For beginners, the underhand serve will likely provide the most control. As your skills progress, you might find that the overhand serve gives you a good balance of control and power.

3. **Question**:

How can I make my serves more powerful?

**Answer**:

Power in serving comes from a combination of arm swing speed, timing, and body momentum. Working on your physical strength, particularly in your core and serving arm, can also help generate more power in your serves.


4. **Question**:

What is the most difficult type of serve to return?

**Answer**:

It can be subjective and depends on the skills of the receiver. However, many players find the float serve difficult to return due to its unpredictable trajectory. An excellently executed jump serve can also be very challenging to return due to its speed and power.

5. **Question**:

Can I touch the line while serving in volleyball?

**Answer**:

No, you cannot touch the line. While serving, you need to stay behind the end line until you have contacted the ball. Stepping on or over the line before the ball has been hit is considered a foot fault, and results in the serve going to the other team.

6. **Question**:

Why is my serve going into the net/too long?

**Answer**:

If your serves are going into the net, it may be a result of striking the ball too low or not having enough power. If your serves are too long, you may be hitting the ball too hard, too high, or leaning back too much on contact. Making adjustments in these areas can help improve your serves.


Remember that volleyball is about teamwork, skill, and most importantly, enjoyment! Train hard, play fair, and always enjoy the game.

Have more questions? Feel free to reach out to us. We're here to help you become the best volleyball player you can be!



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Private or semiprivate volleyball indoor/sand lessons are an excellent way for young Las Vegas high school volleyball players to quickly improve their individual skills through a private or semi-private coaching experience.

These lessons are conducted by former pro volleyball player, former USA Volleyball High Performance instructor and Evaluator and Tstreet Vegas 18s head Coach April Chapple on a weekly basis.

Sign up now!Private or semiprivate volleyball indoor/sand lessons are an excellent way for young Las Vegas high school volleyball players to quickly improve their individual skills through a private or semi-private coaching experience. These lessons are conducted by former pro volleyball player, former USA Volleyball High Performance instructor and Evaluator and Tstreet Vegas 18s head Coach April Chapple on a weekly basis. Sign up now!


Follow me on Pinterest Volleybragswag 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. 



Learn more volleyball terms in the pages below. 



  1. Improve Your Volleyball Performance with Private Volleyball Coach April Chapple
  2.  ›
  3. Words Used In Volleyball: Basic Terms, Slang, Phrases, Jargon, Lingo
  4.  ›
  5. What's The Most Proper Volleyball Serve Technique? Learn 5 Serve Terms


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