Remember, serving is the one part of a volleyball game over which you have complete control. Nobody can interfere with you, so you should be able to at least get the ball over and in the court 100% of the time. If you can score an ace here and there or throw the other team off their offense at the same time, so much the better. Implement these tips, and you’ll be doing all of the above in no time!
- Be consistent with your serving routine. It shouldn’t be too elaborate or take too long, but doing the same motions before each serve will help your brain get in the right groove. This can be as simple as turning the ball the same way or as complex as bouncing the ball a certain number of times. The important thing is to get yourself in the right mindset to serve.
- Keep your toss low and precise. This is a common mistake, especially among newer players. Unless you’re jump serving, your toss shouldn’t be very much higher than what you could reach with your serving arm completely extended. The toss should also land in the same spot every time.
- It’s all about momentum. The power of a serve comes from the use of your body weight and your ability to transfer that weight through your shoulder using momentum. It’s much more about weight transfer than shoulder strength, especially if you want to be accurate.
- Don’t pick up your back foot. Your right foot (again, if you’re right handed) should drag behind you but never leave the ground. If it does leave the ground it means you’re bending at the waist to contact the ball, and this will not only screw up your back but it will lead to a lot of serves ending up in the net.
- Go for accuracy over power. This is the rule until you can serve 15 in a row exactly where you want to. Remember that wherever your shoulder and hips end up pointing, that’s where the ball will be going. If you hit slightly underneath the middle of the ball it will get a higher arc and you can serve short. Get comfortable serving to any spot on the court, and you’ll be a fearsome sight to behold when you go back to serve. After you’re comfortable with accuracy practice the power serve, but remember to never pick up your back foot!
- Keep the flow of the game in the back of your mind. If your team has just busted its butt to win a grueling point and you’re the next one to serve, make sure you get at least one serve in before you start being tricky or pull out the line drive serve. Similarly, it’s important to make the first serve of the game and the first serve after a time out. Every point counts, but there are times when getting a serve in the court should be your first priority.
- Don’t give the other team a freebie. I know I just said there are times when it’s vital to just make your serve, but even at those times your secondary goal should be a serve that disrupts your opponent in some way. This can be as simple as serving to the person who made the last error; just make sure you have intention behind your serve so you’re not giving the other team an opportunity to get a pristine pass, set and hit off your serve.
- Court awareness is key. You should always know where the setter is on the court and the path s/he needs to travel to reach the target area, who the hitters are and which one is the biggest threat, and which passer is the weakest. These three key pieces of information can help inform your serving strategy and allow you to cause maximum damage to your opponent’s offense.
If you’re not satisfied with your serving form, accuracy or consistency, you may need to go back to basics and get some good solid repetitions in.
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