Volleyball Skills – the Serve

In the hugely competitive era for sports, little things can make the difference between an average player and a good one. At the highest level, opponents and coaches study every player minutely and any chink in the armor is noticed and exploited. The phenomenon is prevalent in all sports imaginable. For example in football, coaches and his support staff watch hours and hours of videos to identify small things like a player marginally preferring one foot over the other. Therefore, the need to evolve and acquire new skills is more now than it ever has been. It is advisable to get a pair of the best volleyball shoes before attempting to learn this with your old pair.


In volleyball, where the basic shots are just a few, it’s not about the number of tricks you possess. It is about how much mastery you have on each of the 5-6 different kinds of shot you have. The most basic and perhaps one of the most important shots in volleyball is the serve. A couple of aces vs a couple of fault serves can easily be the difference between victory and defeat in most matches, leave alone very close fought ones.

The earliest volleyball players used to serve underhand. Underhand serve is the most basic one where you swing your arm from low to high to send the ball across. This type of serve is very basic and is very unlikely to cause any problems to a seasoned opposition. The probability of hitting an ace or an unreturnable serve is almost zero with this kind of serve. Hence, much like in other sports like cricket and tennis, this type of serve has been replaced by its overhand counterpart. The underhand serve has vanished from competitive matches and is used only by beginners and amateurs. An interesting variation of the underhand serve did become popular for a small period of time. In this serve, invented by the Brazilian team, the ball is hit very high in the air with an underarm serve. The variation was able to fox the opponents for a while but they figured it out quickly and its brief existence in indoor volleyball came to an end.

Overhand serve has some variations which have also evolved over time. In the topspin serve, the ball is hit with a lot of topspin. The topspin prevents the ball from flying away waywardly in the air and helps it dip and travel faster. This type of serve had its heyday when it was invented but it is rarely used nowadays. Because this type of serve travels in a straight line, it can be used to target the weakest link in the opposite team.

Another variation of the overhand serve, the floater, does not have any topspin and hence swerves along an unpredictable path making it more difficult to pick and dig.

The most popular service in the current era is the jump float. As the name suggests, this service involves the server jumping high to hit the ball. Because the ball it hit at a higher point, the drop into the opposition court is steeper. Also, because the player is in motion, he can impart more energy on the ball making it move faster than usual.