Monday, 22 Jul 2024

Five Keys to Better Serving

Originally published in VolleyballUSA, Fall 2013 issue

Serving in volleyball is a crucial aspect of the game that can greatly impact your team’s ability to score points. Whether you’re an outside hitter like Matt Anderson or an opposite player like Nicole Fawcett, there are key strategies and techniques that can help you improve your serving game. In this article, we will explore five essential keys to better serving that will enhance your performance on the court.

Clear Your Mind and Focus

Before you step up to serve, it’s important to clear your mind and focus on the task at hand. Matt Anderson, a prominent outside hitter for the U.S. Men’s National Team, emphasizes the importance of taking a moment to calm your nerves and get in the right mindset. Clearing your mind allows you to approach each serve with a fresh perspective, free from any emotional baggage from previous points.

Master Your Toss

A consistent and accurate toss is crucial for a successful serve. Anderson believes that the toss is the most important part of serving as it allows you to have control and range over your serves. By focusing on perfecting your toss, you can ensure that your serve is executed consistently and effectively. According to Nicole Fawcett, an opposite player for the U.S. Women’s National Team, a high toss in front of you is ideal as it mimics the motion of attacking, allowing for adjustments and powerful swings.

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Establish a Routine

Bill Neville, assistant coach for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Men’s Team, stresses the importance of having a routine and a checklist for every serve. A routine helps to automate your actions, ensuring consistency and minimizing errors. Neville compares this routine to an airline pilot going through a pre-flight checklist to ensure a safe journey. He suggests following these steps:

  • Center yourself and take a deep breath.
  • Identify your target and serve with a purpose.
  • Visualize the velocity, trajectory, and location of your serve.

By following a routine and checklist, you create a mindful and deliberate approach to serving, increasing your chances of success.

Serve Strategically

Shawn Patchell, men’s volleyball coach at Concordia University Irvine, highlights the importance of serving strategically. Rather than solely focusing on aces, Patchell suggests aiming to disrupt the opposing team’s system. By serving targeted seams on the court, you increase the chances of throwing the opposing team off balance and limiting their attacking options. Patchell encourages players to go beyond the basic four serving seams and explore more specific serving strategies. By asking questions and seeking feedback, you can identify weak points in the opposing team’s defense and exploit them effectively.

Find Your Target

Matt Fuerbringer, U.S. Men’s National Team assistant coach and former beach pro, advises players to find a fixed target for their serves. By visualizing a specific spot on the floor or sand, you can create a mental image of where the ball should cross the net. Imagine a box at that exact spot, and make it your target. Focusing on a small, defined target increases your confidence and accuracy. Additionally, serving to a target that is closer and above the net can give you a competitive edge.

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Q: How can I improve my serving accuracy?
A: One of the key factors in serving accuracy is mastering your toss. Practice consistently to develop a consistent and accurate toss, allowing you to have more control over your serves.

Q: How can I disrupt the opposing team’s system with my serves?
A: Serving strategically is crucial for disrupting the opposing team’s system. Aim for targeted seams on the court, which can throw the opposing team off balance and limit their attacking options.


Serving in volleyball is a skill that can be developed and refined with practice and focus. By following these five keys to better serving, you can enhance your serving game and contribute to your team’s success on the court. Remember to clear your mind, master your toss, establish a routine, serve strategically, and find your target. With dedication and persistence, you can become a formidable server and make a significant impact on the game.

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