Volleyball Serve Use A Float, Jump Or Overhand Serve To Start A Rally

`Volleyball Serve | Improve Your Volley `

Volleyball Serve Use A Float, Jump Or Overhand Serve To Start A Rally

The overhand, underhand or jump volleyball serve is used to start a rally after the ref blows the whistle for the player in Zone 1 behind the service line.   


What Is The Volleyball Serve?


The volleyball serve is your first opportunity to score a point and it's the one individual skill in volleyball that you have complete control of. 

From the moment

  • you pick up the ball behind the service line,
  • to once it leaves your hands for the toss after the ref blows the whistle

you literally have the ability to score points for your team, if you use the correct volleyball serving technique.


The serve is often the first offensive skill a player usually learns.

If you can't serve the ball, you can't play the game, since throwing the ball over the net isn't allowed. 


Syd works on improving her standing float serve during private training with me. 


Different Types of Volleyball Serves


There are various types of volleyball serves that players can utilize.

Understanding these different types of serves and their unique characteristics can enhance your effectiveness on the court.

Here are a few commonly used serve types:


Volleyball Serves - The Float Serve


To execute a float serve, start by standing behind the service line with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Hold the ball with a light grip in your non serving hand which will be your tossing hand, almost like you're cradling it.

As you toss the ball in front of you with a straight outstretched arm, make sure to keep the toss consistent and in line in other words..in front of your hitting shoulder.

Toss the ball two feet up in the air and one foot in front of your front foot which is pointed in the direction of where you want the ball to be served. 

As you swing your arm forward, make contact with the middle or lower part of the ball using a firm, flat hand.

Rather than adding topspin or backspin, focus on a clean, direct hit.

The primary benefit of the float serve is its ability to disrupt the opposing team's reception.

Unlike a topspin serve that dives downwards or a jump serve with high velocity, the float serve often has minimal rotation and can move unpredictably in the air.


volleyball float serve gif

Ryanwils, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


This can make it challenging for passers to read the trajectory and adjust their positioning accordingly.


Volleyball Serves 
The Jump Serve


The jump serve is a dynamic and powerful serving technique that can give you a strategic advantage on the court.

This serve involves a three or four step approach and a jump to launch the server in the air to generate extra power and velocity behind the ball.

To execute a jump serve effectively, start by standing behind the service line and take a few steps back for your approach.

step - toss - step close - launch yourself in the air

As you reach the peak of your approach, jump off both feet, extending your hitting arm back and swinging it forward forcefully.

Make contact with the ball at the highest point of your jump, ideally with a firm hand and a snapping motion of the wrist.

The primary advantage of the jump serve is the added power and velocity it can generate so once the ball passes over the net it spins to the ground quickly. 

With a well-executed jump serve, you can put significant pressure on the opposing team's serve reception, making it difficult for them to control the ball and initiate a strong offensive play.


To maximize the effectiveness of your jump serve, consider the following tips:


1. Timing


Focus on timing your approach jump to ensure you contact the ball at the highest point of your jump.

Practice the timing and coordination of your steps, arm swing, and jump reach to achieve a seamless motion with no pauses or hesitations in your approach to the ball.


2. Generating Height


Work on developing explosive leg power to achieve the maximum height in your jump.

I like to tell my clients to attack the floor with the last two steps of your approach in order to launch yourself higher in the air using  your leg muscles to drive upward forcefully to gain additional height during the serve.


3. Generating Velocity


To generate velocity, focus on a strong back swing with both arms and quickly  and aggressively swing both arms forward before pulling the elbow of the serving arm back keeping the elbow close to your ear while turning the palm of the hand towards the ball before you make contact with the ball.

Use the full range of motion in your hitting shoulder and snap your wrist to add speed to the serve.


4. Practice and Consistency


Like any skill, the jump serve requires practice and consistency to refine your technique and develop accuracy and control.

Set aside practice sessions to work on your jump serve and strive for repetition and refining your technique.

By mastering the mechanics of the jump serve and incorporating it into your game strategy, you can become a formidable server and disrupt the opposing team's serve reception, giving your team a significant advantage.


Volleyball Serves 
Topspin Serve


The topspin serve is a powerful serving technique that can put significant pressure on the opposing team's reception.

It involves imparting topspin rotation on the ball, resulting in a downward trajectory when the ball crosses the net.





To execute a topspin serve effectively, start by standing behind the service line and ensure a firm grip on the ball.

Position yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart and your non-dominant foot slightly in front of the other.

As you begin your serving motion, toss the ball slightly in front of you and to the hitting shoulder side.

The toss should be high enough to allow you to strike the ball at its highest point. This is crucial for generating the desired topspin.

When making contact with the ball, strike it with a firm hand and snap your wrist downward and slightly across the ball's center.

This action imparts topspin rotation, causing the ball to dip and drop rapidly towards the opposing team's court.




The topspin serve offers several advantages.

By creating a downward trajectory, it can make it challenging for the opposing team to handle effectively.

The combination of speed and the ball's steep descent can lead to difficulties in accurately receiving the serve.

Additionally, the topspin can cause the ball to bounce off the passer's arms with greater velocity, increasing the chances of an uncontrolled pass or an error on their part.


           To refine your topspin serve and                              enhance its effectiveness,                 consider the following tips:


1. Consistency

Focus on consistent toss placement and contact point to ensure a clean and powerful strike. Practice the toss and striking motion repeatedly to develop muscle memory and consistency.

2. Timing

Pay attention to the timing of your toss and approach, ensuring optimal coordination between the two. Timing is crucial for achieving the desired contact point.

3. Wrist Snap

Emphasize a quick and forceful snap of the wrist at the moment of contact to generate maximum topspin rotation. Practice the wrist snap motion separately to improve control and power.

4. Practice Variations

Experiment with varying the pace, placement, and angle of your topspin serves.

This can add an element of unpredictability, making it even more challenging for the opposing team to receive your serves effectively.

By mastering the technique of the topspin serve, you can become a formidable server and create opportunities for your team by disrupting the opposing team's reception.


Volleyball Serve Techniques


Mastering the proper technique is essential for a consistent and accurate serve.

Regardless of the type of serve you choose, the following elements are crucial.


Volleyball Serve 
Float Serve Grip


For the float serve, it's important to have a loose and relaxed grip on the ball.

Place your tossing hand underneath the ball, allowing your fingers to spread naturally.

Keep your hand and wrist relaxed to avoid generating excessive spin on the ball. This type of grip promotes a clean surface contact with the ball, allowing it to float unpredictably over the net.


Volleyball Serve 
Jump Serve Grip


With the jump serve, a firmer grip is recommended to generate power and control.

Hold the ball firmly in the palm of your hand and use your fingers to secure it in place.

Maintain a steady grip throughout your serving motion to ensure that the ball doesn't slip from your hand.

This grip helps maximize your ability to impart spin and power on the ball.


Volleyball Serve 
Topspin Serve Grip

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




The topspin serve requires a strong yet controlled grip on the ball. Hold the ball tightly with your palm and fingers.

Keep your hand slightly behind the ball to allow for a clean strike and effective topspin rotation.

The firm grip helps you generate the necessary spin to create a downward trajectory and make it difficult for the opposing team to handle.

Regardless of the serve type, it's crucial to find a grip that feels comfortable and natural to you.

Experiment with different grip pressures and positions to discover what works best for your serves.

Remember, a balance between a firm grip and maintaining a relaxed and fluid motion is key to executing accurate and powerful serves.

By emphasizing the importance of a firm yet comfortable hold on the ball, players can optimize their serve technique and improve their overall serving performance.



Common Serving Mistakes


To help players avoid common pitfalls, address some common serving mistakes and provide tips on how to rectify them.

Some examples include:

Volleyball Serve - Serving into the Net


Explain the common causes of serving into the net and offer techniques for creating the necessary height and clearance.


Volleyball Serve -
Serving Long or Out of Bounds


Discuss the importance of proper aim and provide suggestions on adjusting power and technique to achieve better control.


Serving Strategies and Tactics To Use During A Match


During a match you as the server can use certain strategies of serving that can give you an advantage during a match.

Some strategies to consider include:

  • target weak zones on the court
  • mix up your serves
  • learn to read your server's body language


-Targeting Weak Zones

During warmups you get a chance to see how players pass and that's the time to identify who has strong passing skills. 

Also during the game you as the server need to remember which zones to serve on the opposing court that cause them trouble in serve receive. 

Serving deep to the opposing team's cross court to zone One when the setter is backrow in defense in Zone One is always a good idea because the passer has to pass a perfect ball from the right back of the court ..in front.. of the setter... who is moving to the net ...while having to turn and look over their shoulder ...in order to deliver a good set to their hitter.

If they dont pass well the setter has to work harder to get to the ball and the set becomes  an easy ball for your team in defense to dig because the hitter doesnt get a good set. 

All this chaos is the result of a smartly placed serve from you. 

-Varying Serves

In practice you want to learn to mix up your serves. My teams regularly know how to serve short in one rally and then serve deep in another rally which keeps the opposing team's passers guessing all the time. 


-Reading Opponent's Positioning

learn to see where the opposing team's passers are in their serve receive formation on their court. 

If the three primary passers are deep in the court, then you want to consider serving short so your serve falls just behind the ten foot line.

If the opposing team's passers are standing closer to the ten foot line then consider aiming your serve either at their heads or deeper in the court so they're forced to move backwards. 


Serving Tips for Beginners


For beginners who are just starting to learn the serve, here are some tips and advice to help you improve your skills. 

  • focus on consistency
  • start with a basic serve
  • practice regularly

- Focus on Consistency

As a beginner you want to practice your reps so that you develop consistent technique and repetition to develop muscle memory.

Give yourself a goal of completing 30 repetitions. And then keep track of the repetitions that you get right to your target.

If you get 15 to the target out of 30 total attempts that means you made half of them or 50% of your serves to the target. 

Every time you practice at home by yourself see if you can do better than 50%..This is how you can test yourself each time and how you can keep track of your improvement. 





- Start with a Basic Serve

If you're a beginner you'll probably start with a fundamental serve technique, such as an underhand serve or a simple standing overhand serve, before moving onto more advanced types of serves in volleyball. 

Get consistently good with your simple serve before moving on to more advance types of serves in volleyball. 


- Practice Regularly

Practice, practice and practice your serve. The serve is the one skill you by yourself control and can use to score points without the help of a coach or a teammate so wouldn't you want to get back behind the service line and confidently serve as many points for your team as possible?

The only way to be able to consistently do that is to practice serving to consistent spots to the opposing court so that at any stressful time during a match you are calm enough and consistent enough to serve tough no matter what. 


Frequently Asked Volleyball Serve Questions Answered 


Which team can serve the ball first? 

  • The team that wins the coin toss at the beginning of a match is the team that can serve first. 


How many players can serve a ball and when?

  • Only one player can serve the ball at the beginning of a rally. 


Who can serve the ball?

  • The player on the offensive team, who starts in Zone 1, is the only one who can serve the ball. 


Where can you serve the ball from on the court?

  • The server must be behind the service line until the ball has been contacted.

What is the purpose of the volleyball serve?


Each official match must 


Do You Follow Me on Pinterest?


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. 


The Volleyball Serve
Where Do You Go From Here?


Your three options are: 

  1. You can learn more about Serving 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 these basic volleyball skills pages!


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