How to Serve a Volleyball: The Beginners Guide

Are you a beginner looking to improve your volleyball skills, specifically in serving?

In this blog post, I’ll go through how to serve a volleyball, common mistakes, and advanced techniques to take your game to the next level.

What is a serve in volleyball?

A serve in volleyball is when a server hits the ball with their hand over the net and into the opponent’s court. The server must hit the ball with their hand over the net and into the opponent’s court. A serve starts the rally, and it has to be performed over the net.

The purpose of serving is to gain an advantage for your team. You can either win the point with an ace or put the opponents in a defensive position. A serve has to comply with certain rules that apply to all volleyball positions.

What are the different types of serves in volleyball?

There are various kinds of volleyball serves, and all of them have their own unique advantages. Here are the most common types including;

  1. Underhand Serve is where the player hits the ball with their palm facing down and the elbow up. This type of serve gives a lot of spin to the ball, making it difficult for opponents to pass it.
  2. Overhand Serve is when a player hits the ball with their palm facing upward, keeping it from going too deep into the court. This type is typically used when serving from behind the end line.
  3. Float Serve is when a player hits the ball without any spin, making it difficult to predict where it will go on the court. This serve has a floating motion which makes it tough for opponents to return accurately.
  4. Jump Serve is when a player jumps off the ground before serving and reaches up higher than normal in order to hit the ball over the net. This is a great serve for experienced players and it’s also quite intimidating for opponents.

Related Article: Best Volleyball Positions for Short Players

Basic Rules of Serving:

Before you start serving, make sure to understand these basic rules of serving. This will help you understand what’s expected of you and avoid any confusion during the game.

Here are the most important ones;

  1. The server must be outside of the court and within the service box before they serve.
  2. The ball has to be hit with the hand and must travel over the net without any interference.
  3. A serve has to be made in a continuous motion, meaning that it can’t be stopped or interrupted in the middle of it.
  4. The ball has to land within the court lines in order for it to count as a successful serve.

Related Article: Volleyball Positions: The Beginner Guide (Pictures)

5 Steps to Serve in Volleyball:

Serving in volleyball might seem simple at first glance, but it’s a skill that requires precision, strength, and strategic thinking. Mastering this fundamental aspect of the game can significantly boost your team’s chances of success.

girl about serve volleyball

Here are the steps to serve a volleyball;

Step 1. Stand in the service box:

Position yourself in the service box, making sure to stay behind the end line.

Make sure your feet are kept together and your arms are held at shoulder height. You need to be ready to jump as soon as you hit the ball.

Step 2. Hold the ball firmly:

Grip the ball tightly, using your dominant hand and looking at it while tossing it up in a steady motion. You should be able to feel the ball contacting your palm and fingers.

Make sure the ball is not too high or low as it could interfere with your serve.

Step 3. Toss the ball up and hit it:

Once the ball is in your hand, toss it up using your wrist and follow through with your forearm to hit the ball at a higher angle than normal.

Make sure you keep track of where your elbow is pointing – it has to be pointed upwards when hitting the ball for an overhand serve.

Step 4. Aim the ball and hit it:

Aiming is essential in volleyball, as it will determine whether your serve will be successful or not. The angle upon which you hit the ball plays a key role in how accurately you’ll be able to direct the ball towards your opponent’s court.

Focus on where you want the ball to land and hit it with as much power as possible.

Step 5. Follow through with your arm:

Once you make contact with the ball, keep following through with your arm. Don’t stop just after hitting the ball and do some controlled movements to get back into position after serving. This will help you maintain balance while giving a more powerful serve.

Side Note: At 1st, your ball will not land where you want to be. But, this is common when you’re just a beginner. With practice, you’ll get the hang of it and understand how to aim your balls accurately.

Essential Tips for Beginners:

As a beginner in volleyball, there are numerous elements to master. One of the most important is how to serve. This process can be daunting initially, but these are my favourite tips that I used to improve my serve when I was a beginner.

volleyball player serving

Here are some essential tips to help you get started.

  1. Practice Consistency: Start by focusing on your consistency. Try to hit the ball at the same spot every time. This will help you get comfortable with the serving motion and gradually improve your accuracy.
  2. Work on Your Timing: Timing is crucial in serving. You have to toss the ball up and hit it at the right moment. Too early or too late, and your serve could end up being too strong or too weak.
  3. Use Your Whole Body: Don’t just rely on your arm strength. Use your whole body. This means involving your legs, hips, and core when you serve along with your arm and hand.
  4. Focus on Your Target: Always have a target area on the opponent’s court where you want the ball to land. This will guide your aim and give you a higher chance of scoring a point.
  5. Stay Calm and Confident: Finally, stay calm and confident on the court. It can be easy to get nervous, especially when serving. But remember, every player has been in your shoes. With each serve, you are gaining valuable experience and improving your skills.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them:

Serving in volleyball, like any skill, takes time and practice to perfect. However, there are some common mistakes that beginners often make when serving which can hinder their progress.

Here are the most common serving mistakes and how you can avoid them;

  1. Tossing Too High: One of the biggest issues is tossing the ball too high in the air before hitting it. This can cause the ball to land over or even behind the end line, resulting in a fault. The best way to avoid this is by practicing tossing and hitting the ball at different heights until you get it right.
  2. Not Taking a Step: Another mistake is not taking a step before serving. A player needs to take at least one step forwards if they wish to serve a float or jump serve. Taking steps can help improve power and accuracy with every serve.
  3. Not Focusing on Target: A lot of beginners also make the mistake of not focusing on their target area when serving. It’s important to focus on the exact spot where you want the ball to land so that your aim is more accurate and your chances of scoring a point increase.
  4. Not Having Proper Technique: Lastly, many beginners make the mistake of not having proper technique when serving. In order to improve your serve, it’s important to master the correct technique such as using your whole body and timing your hit at the right moment.

These are some of the most common mistakes that beginners make while serving in volleyball. Avoiding these errors and mastering the right technique can help you become a more efficient player on the court.

Of course, it’s always important to remember that mistakes happen while learning any new skill. Don’t let this discourage you – just focus on improving your technique each time and you will eventually master the art of serving in no time.


Serving is an important skill to master in volleyball, as it can determine whether your team scores points or not. To serve well, you need to be consistent with your technique and have a good understanding of how to toss, hit, aim and follow through with the ball.

Additionally, it’s important to avoid common mistakes such as tossing too high, not taking a step, and not focusing on your target. With practice and dedication, you will be able to improve your serve every time you play.

Kyle Parker

About Author:

I'm Kyle Parker, a former professional volleyball player turned coach. Here, I shares in-depth guides and practical tips to elevate your volleyball game. Learn more...

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