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The Volleyball Voice

Fix Your Wimpy Volleyball Serve

by April Chapple


Serving is the volleyball game's "equalizer" because from start to finish you (the high school volleyball player) and only you control every aspect and especially the outcome of the serve.

The good news is that it doesn't matter how tall, how wide or how short you are, if you develop a tough serve that makes points consistently, I guarantee you, your coach will put you in the game and you will regularly see court time.


1. Mentally decide to attack with your serve.

Many volleyball players with serves that are inconsistent or ineffective need to first change their mind set about serving. For elite athletes serving isn't about getting the ball over the net so the other team can start the play.

On the contrary, "the play" STARTS with the serve, meaning the serve is used as the first "attack" you make against the opposing team.

So learn to "attack" with your serve. This is a mental process first. Decide to be aggressive with your serve. Then in practice, practice making high velocity tough attack serves, not wimpy ones.


2. Just like when you spike the ball,  you need to raise your elbow.

When volleyball players complain about serving into the net one of the first things I watch to make corrections is how high their elbow is.

Whether you use a bow and arrow arm swing or a simulation spike to serve...(that's what I call it) if you drop your elbow when you serve, your ball will rarely clear the net.

Your elbow needs to be high...always above the level of your ear. Then you need to speed up your arm swing and reach-contacting the ball in the 12 noon position above your head.


3. Low toss or inconsistent toss.

This is the second place I look to check for wimpy volleyball serves.

If your toss is low, then that means you have to go chase your ball off balanced.

Because the toss is low, in order to recover and make something happen, you usually lean forward..and have to go chase the ball because of the bad toss.

Or, if one time you toss to the right of your front foot, then another time  feet over to the left you will never create a system for yourself so you can consistently serve tough.


Create a "ritual" where you toss the same way every time you serve.

I point my foot exactly in the direction of where I'm going to serve, then with open palmed left hand, I toss the ball two feet above my head and one foot in front of my front foot.

How do I know these measurements?

Because at home or by myself I practiced my toss...just my toss for hundreds of reps. Two feet up, one foot in front. Let the ball drop without swinging at it to make sure it lands in front of the toe of your front foot.

Why? This keeps your body balanced so all you have to do is transfer the weight from your back foot to your front foot, quicken your arm swing and make solid contact with the ball.


4. Not facing your target.

Some volleyball players think its really sneaky to try and fake out the serve receive by not showing where they are going to serve.

On the contrary I say...let everybody know where you are going to serve.

Face Your Target.

I'm talking about the floater serve, here. Place everything that you have, your feet, hips, shoulders, tossed ball in the direction of where you plan to serve.

Face that player or that space on the court and just let it Go!

If ALL your energy is going in one direction you can create more force than if different parts of your body are going in different directions. If everything is all lined up in one direction and balanced then you can focus on one last element.


5. Ball contact.

If you don't make solid contact right in the middle of the volleyball panels facing you, then you probably won't get that tough floater serve you are looking for.

Contact on the sides, gives the ball side spin and contacting the ball too low gives a back spin which is usually pretty easy for the opposing team to pass.

In practice, watching where you contact the ball helps you improve your ball contact when you serve.