4 Types of Serves in Volleyball Overhand, Underhand, Topspin and Jump

There are four types of serves in volleyball varsity players learn. Beginners learn the underhand serve first, then the overhand serve, then topspin and jump serve.   

How many types of serves in volleyball are there?

There are three main types of serves that Vegas varsity players should learn how to do. 

The underhand, the overhand serve and the jump serve. 

Types of Serves in Volleyball
The Underhand Volleyball Serve
A Step-by-Step Guide

When players first learn the basic skills in volleyball they are usually taught how to underhand serve first.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How To Underhand         Serve in Volleyball

The underhand serve is done by

  • having the left foot in front of the right foot in a balanced position with your weight on the back foot and toe of the left foot pointed towards where you intend to serve the ball (lefties do the opposite)
  • holding the ball in one hand and
  • swinging your other arm back keeping it parallel to your body 
  • then swinging your arm forward with a closed fist or open hand contacting the bottom panels of the ball 
  • when your arm swings forward you shift your weight from your back foot to your front foot which helps to 
  • propel the ball across your court and into the opposing team's court using the momentum of the swinging arm to get the ball to travel over the net 

Click here to read more about the underhand serve. 

Volleyball serve skills: Sophia performs the standing float serve during Fridays Advanced Skills clinic at Vets.  

The next two types of serves in volleyball are important because when done correctly they are designed to make it difficult for passers in serve receive to pass the ball easily to their setter. 

Types of Serves in Volleyball
The Overhand Serve 
Standing Float Serve

With the floater overhand volleyball serve:

How To Serve Harder in Volleyball

Imagine giving a friend a "high five" keeping your elbow above the level of your ear while you rotate to contact the ball. 

When using this volleyball serving technique the ball crosses the net quickly with no spin and alot of float movement in the air.

Then the ball drops suddenly to the floor making it super difficult for a passer to track and pass the ball to their setter target. 

Types of Serves in Volleyball
The Overhand Serve Standing Topspin 

The standing topspin serve is another type of overhand volleyball serve

The primary difference in performing the topspin serve is

a. the wrist isn't stiff, its loose when contacting the ball and bends so the serving hand contacts the top third of the ball.

Contacting the top third of the ball

insures the ball crosses the net with a lot of pace and velocity like a spiked hit.

Example Scenarios: Strategic Use of Volleyball Serve Techniques, Underhand, Overhand, Float and Jump Serves

I think its a great idea to share some scenarios where different types of serves in volleyball is used. 

If you understand when and how to use different serve techniques strategically you can greatly impact the game.

Consider the following example scenarios:

1. Underhand Serve:

The underhand serve is often the first type of serve that beginners learn and is used when players are first learning the game or in situations requiring a high level of control, such as accurately placing the ball into a specific area of the opponent's court during serve receive.

I learned how to do a high paced precisely located underhand serve after training with several Asian coaches who use the underhand serve in fast paced drills with their players.

When used well, the underhand serve can become a point scoring option that opposing receivers easily underestimate. 

2. Overhand Float Serve

Once I learned about the overhand float serve I made it my mission in college to score as many points as I could each set or match with a tough serve.

Volleyball Serving Drills: Addi, Piper and  Hadley Working on their Jump Float Serve To Chairs for Accuracy and Points during semiprivate training with me 

I practiced for hours just on my serve so I could deliver it at any time to any place on the court in order to make opposing passers have to move out of their base passing position to chase the ball or I'd serve right at them in order to force them to shank the ball so it would be a direct point for my team. 

Now I spend a lot of time with my clients on serving drills so they too become known for having consistently tough point scoring serves.

The overhand float serve is effective because its used to disrupt the opponent's passing and serve receive formation.

Make sure you work on keeping a consistent ball toss in your practice drills, a toss with no backspin helps make this serve even more challenging for the opposing passers to get a well-controlled pass.

A 12-year old with a tough top spin jump serve! 

3. Overhand Topspin Serve:

Simply said, if you want to get the ball over the net fast and hard you use the overhand topspin serve with your jump approach. 

The float serve is the finesse serve while the topspin is the power serve. 

-April Chapple

The topspin serve is used when you want to generate power and add spin with a downward trajectory once the ball crosses the net to the serve.

Even younger players are getting really good at including the topspin serve in their toolbox of skills they can use during their match when they need to start a rally after the ref blows their whistle. 

This places increased pressure on the passers that're on serve receive, because the ball is coming over the net at a super fast speed so making it more difficult to move to the ball in order to execute a clean pass.

4. Jump Serve

The jump serve is the second type of serve that most young players learn during their playing career. 

Combining the three or four step approach with the standing float serve technique is what players learn how to coordinate in practice...putting the timing together with their upper body work with their lower body approach... 

The jump serve is a dynamic and powerful serve technique.

It is used by more advanced players who can generate high speeds, lots of pace and velocity, making it difficult for the opposing team to pass which increases the potential scoring opportunities.

By carefully assessing the game situation, understanding opponent weaknesses, and considering your team's strengths, you can strategically choose the most suitable serve technique to gain a competitive advantage.

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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. 

Types of Serves in Volleyball 
Where Do you Go From Here?

Your three options are: 

  1. You can learn more about Basic Volleyball Skills by visiting the related links below.                            
  2. Follow the suggested reading on our Sitemap page Learning How To Play (Sitemap)
  3. Or visit the pages in the How to Play Volleyball section in the drop down menu at the top of the page to get started. 
  4. Before leaving this page Say "Hi" to Miss Tattoo the Tiger wearing the #9 jersey below.  Miss Tattoo is the starting defensive and serving specialist for the All Beast VolleyBragSwag All Star team.

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

You might like to learn more about the types of serves in volleyball in the pages below. 

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