Types of Serves in volleyball

Types of Serves in Volleyball

The game of volleyball hinges on the crucial skill of serving which initiates play by sending the ball over to the opponents’ side. Serving plays a pivotal role in determining the tempo and flow of a game, which make it an imperative skill for players to hone.

Volleyball offers a variety of serves. Each serve distinguished by its technique and purpose. This article explores the different types of serves and their defining characteristics.

10 Types of Serves in volleyball

  1. Standard Serve
  2. Float Serve
  3. Jump Float Serve
  4. Topspin Serve
  5. Jump Topspin Serve
  6. Skyball Serve
  7. Power Serve
  8. Jump Serve
  9. One handed Serve
  10. Off Speed Serve

Let’s start to discuss each serve in detail.

1- Standard Serve

The standard serve is often referred to as the ‘underhand serve’. It is considered as one of the fundamental types of serves. It is a first serve that beginners learn. The standard serve is characterized by the following key features:

Underhand Technique: Standard serve is executed when the player stands behind the end line and uses an underhand swinging motion to hit the ball over the net. This means that the player strikes the ball with their closed fist or the heel of their hand while their palm is facing upward.

Less Power and Precision: The Standard Serve is generally chosen for its simplicity and ease of execution. This make it suitable for the beginners. It does not require the same level of power and precision as more advanced serves.

Starter Serve: It is often taught to beginners as a foundational skill to introduce them to serving in volleyball. As players progress and become more skilled, they may explore more advanced and powerful serve techniques.

2- Float Serve

This type of serve is travelled through the air. It is used where the ball does not spin. It moves in an unpredictable and wobbly manner, which make it challenging for the opposing team to anticipate its path.

This serve is executed by striking the ball with a flat hand. It requires a good deal of control and precise timing to be effective. The float serve is a valuable tool for the players to keep their opponents on their toes. It introduces an element of uncertainty into the game and can be difficult to receive.

3- Jump Float Serve

This serve combines a leap into the air with the principles of the float serve. Unlike the traditional underhand serve, the jump float serve involves a player jumping into the air before hitting the ball with a flat hand. This added upward momentum, which results in more power and speed behind the serve. This make it more challenging for the opposing team to receive.

The serve can create difficulties for the receiving team. The ball’s irregular path combined with the swifter pace and can catch them off guard. This serve requires not only a good sense of timing but also the ability to coordinate the jump and the strike effectively.

Mastery of the jump float serve is often seen as a testament to a player’s skill and finesse on the volleyball court. It is a serve that demands a balance of power and precision, which make it a valuable asset in a player’s quest.

4- Topspin Serve

The topspin serve is a technique that adds a strong element of spin to the game. To execute a topspin serve, the player strikes the ball with a strong downward spin. This causes it to drop quickly after it clears the net. The serve is known for its speed and the abrupt dip it takes, which make it a challenging serve to receive.

The topspin serve is often favored by players who aim to put pressure on their opponents . The spin not only forces the ball to dip, which make it challenging to judge but also to add a layer of complexity for the receiving team to handle.

The topspin serve requires skill and precision to be executed effectively. Players must strike the ball just right to generate the desired spin and trajectory.

5- Jump Topspin Serve

This type of serve stands out as an advanced technique. The serve combines the elements of a jump serve with the dynamics of a topspin serve. When performing a jump topspin serve, a player takes a leap into the air before delivering the ball with a powerful downward spin.

This added jump provides extra momentum and height, which generates greater speed and unpredictability in the serve. As the ball is struck with a vigorous downward spin, it descends rapidly after clearing the net. This make it challenging for the opposing team to handle.

Mastering the jump topspin serve is no small feat. It demands not only athleticism and timing but also a high degree of skill. The goal is to capitalize on the element of surprise and the sheer velocity of the serve to disrupt the opponents’ defense. The jump topspin serve is a showcase of a player’s quickness and skill.

6- Skyball Serve

This type of serve is a distinctive and intriguing technique. The player throws the ball high up into the air before delivering it with an overhand motion. The goal is to make the ball come down on the other side of the net with a lot of spin, which make it challenging for the opponents to receive.

The high toss of the ball into the air can make it difficult for the opposing team to anticipate the serve’s path accurately. Additionally, the spin applied to the ball adds to the unpredictability of the skyball serve.

The skyball serve demands a mix of skills, which include precise timing and the ability to generate spin on the ball. When executed effectively, it can create confusion on the opposing side. In many ways, the skyball serve is similar to a curveball in baseball.

7- Power Serve

It is a specialized serving technique that can be a game changer. It creates intense moments and exciting turnovers on the court. The power serve combines strength, accuracy and strategic thinking to put immense pressure on the opposing team.

To execute a power serve, the players need to master a few key elements:

  • The foundation of a power serve is a solid serving technique. Players must develop a consistent and controlled serve. The goal is to send the ball to its intended target.
  • The power serve lives up to its name by delivering a blistering pace. This challenges the receiver’s reflexes and control. Players generate power from a combination of their leg and core strength. They use their entire body to maximize the force behind the serve. The speed of a power serve can easily exceed 60 miles per hour, which make it incredibly difficult to defend.
  • The power is important, however the accuracy is equally crucial. A powerful serve without precision can easily result in errors or give the opposing team an advantage. Great power servers can consistently hit specific zones of the court, which is effective in putting pressure on the receivers to make quick decisions.

8- Jump Serve

The jump serve is one of the most exhilarating and forceful serves in the volleyball. It involves leaping before striking the ball with an overhand motion. However, successful execution requires precise technique and timing.

9- One Handed Serve

The one handed serve in volleyball is a distinctive and less conventional technique. It is often employed by the players who are looking to include the element of surprise to their serves. This serving method is common in the volleyball.

Here’s a closer look at the one handed serve and what makes it unique:

  • The one handed serve involves holding the volleyball with one hand while using the other hand to strike the ball over the net. The serving hand’s position can vary, but the players hold the ball with an open palm or fingers and use an underhand motion to send the ball over the net.
  • This serve may not generate the same power as the two handed serve. The one handed serve offers players a high degree of control and placement. Skilled one handed servers can direct the ball with accuracy. The aim is to focus on the specific areas of the court.

10- Off Speed Serve:

The off speed serves the centers on changing the pace and disrupting the opponents’ timing. It involves delivering the ball with less force than usual, which causes it to travel at a slower speed and catching opponents.

These serves are typically executed with a softer and slower contact with the ball. The server may choose to place the off speed serve strategically. Some off speed serves incorporate spin or movement to make the ball’s less predictable. For example, a floater serve which has minimal spin can wobble unpredictably in the air.

The off-speed serves are normally used at crucial moments in the game, such as when the opposing team is expecting a powerful serve.

How to master the jump Serve in the volleyball?

For those looking to master the jump serve in volleyball, the following steps can be followed:

  1. Stand behind the end line with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Hold the ball with both hands slightly above your head.
  3. Take a few small steps towards the net to build momentum.
  4. As you reach the final step, jump up and forward, which bring the ball down for your hitting hand to make contact.
  5. Strike the ball with an overhand motion.
  6. Land on both feet. Maintain forward weight to keep balance.
  7. Consistent practice is key to improve the consistency and power of your jump serve.


To master the diverse range of serves in volleyball, it is essential for players to become versatile and effective on the court. Each type of serve demands a combination of skill, technique and practice for successful execution.

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