Developing A Consistent, Accurate Volleyball Serve

Preparing to serve volleyball

A fundamental element of being a successful volleyball player is developing an effective and reliable serve. Serving starts each point and often, serving errors are the difference between winning and losing a game or match. At Active.com, Coach Tom Houser described some serving fundamentals that all youth volleyball players and coaches can concentrate on. Here are some keys to developing a better overhand serve.

  • Bad Habits

When a child begins playing volleyball, she’ll undoubtedly develop some bad habits in order to compensate for a lack of strength. This is similar to a young basketball player being unable to use a fundamentally sound shooting motion. This is particularly problematic when it comes to serving. Excess motion, twisting or bad follow throughs doom any serve. These motions may have been necessary when a player lacked strength, but as the player matures, they only make a serve less accurate and consistent.

  • Correcting Motion

The most common problems in a player’s serving motion are twisting their shoulders away from the target and following through across their body, as if throwing a baseball. Turning the shoulders sideways helps to create more power when contacting the ball, but it negatively affects accuracy. Since the primary goal in youth volleyball is to simply put the ball in play, accuracy should be valued over power. A bad follow through also causes the player to lose accuracy. It typically causes the ball to be pulled off line, or shanked completely. If necessary, the follow through can be removed completely to fix a player’s serving motion.

  • The Toss

For jump serves, the toss is extremely important and should be high and in front of the player. For standing overhand serves, the advice differs slightly. Excessively high serves make it much harder to serve consistently. The ball will be traveling faster at impact and the player will have more time for unnecessary motion. A toss that’s too low doesn’t leave enough time for proper execution, however. A good teaching tool is “toss, prepare, step, hit”. Toss the ball, prepare by ensuring your shoulders are facing the target and your eyes are following the ball, step straight forward with your opposite foot, then hit with the center of your hand impacting the center of the ball. Since timing is important, players should keep their hand high, not drop it, when they toss the ball.

As with anything, practice is the only way to perfect your serving motion. Finding the right height for your toss and getting comfortable with a proper motion will come with practice time.

At Perfect Practice Athletic Center in Tulsa, we offer court rentals for individual volleyball training and clinics, like VolleyKIDS that teaches fundamentals to girls age 6 to 11 and prepares them for club and school teams. For more information or to sign up, visit our VolleyKIDS page.

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