The problem is that a lot of players are able to hit the ball right from time to time but they are not consistent enough. This can be very frustrating for the player, team, and coach. The player knows what he or she has to do but is not able to do it every time. This makes it unpredictable if the team can count on that player. How can this be improved?
Here are the drills that you can use to get great at serving as explained by an Olympic athlete. There are several ways to serve but a jump serve is the most popular as you can add a lot of effects and force to the ball. Therefore it is a great idea to learn this type of serve. We provided a step-by-step overview of this drill before. Let’s go over the correct technique with Olympic medal winner Jordan Larson:
Drill 1: Serving Over the net
The first drill is to get the ball over the net using the technique that we have discussed. Players should be encouraged to use an overhand serve as this provides more control over the ball than an underhand serve. The players will probably need a lot of encouragement so remain positive. This can be hard to do if they keep making mistakes but this is part of being a player and coach. Focus on the technique and everything else will follow. Let’s get an easy explanation below:
It is important that other players don’t get hit by the ball or fall over a ball that is rolling around. Therefore it can be a great idea to locate all the players on one side of the net. Players should be able to perform this drill 5-7 times in short succession so that they can get a feel for what works and doesn’t.
If players are struggling with this, it can be a great idea to encourage the player to practice at home or before the training starts. Every player has to serve during a match so players need to master this. It is possible to temporarily lower the net so that players get used to using more power. You can also use your phone to create a short video and point out what they need to improve on to get the ball over the net. They can also use a standing serve instead of a jump serve to get started.
Drill 2: Serve within the box
Now we are going to be more precise. We are going to add some tape over the court to outline an area where the player has to drop the ball. This area can still be quite big to get started. It will generally be at the end of the court so that it is easy to get the ball over the net. Each player has to do this 5 times in a row. When a player is able to land the ball in the outlined area, he or she gets a cheer from the team.
After a while, we can reduce the size of the area by moving the tape around. This will push players to be more precise. You can do this gradually so that players get time to adjust to this new challenge. Always remain positive, even when a player is struggling. These drills are not easy and recognize their efforts. It can take several weeks before players are able to hit the target area consistently.
Drill 3: Hit the target
Now we are going to the next level. We are going to take a ball cart. Players have 5 balls each. They have to hit as many balls in the cart as possible. Once every player has done this, the cart moves around so that players have to aim at another area on the court. The player that has the most balls in the cart at the end of the drill, wins the game. Volleyball players are often competitive and this can really push them to give their best.
You can also add a time limit so that players have to serve faster. During a match players also don’t have a lot of time so adding some pressure is always a great idea. Players shouldn’t waste too much time dribbling.
Let’s see this in action below:
This game is really challenging but can really improve the service of a player. Once they start to master this, you can challenge them to hit the ball harder. This can be done by improving the arm swing or by jumping higher. The fastest serve was more than 163 miles per hour so there is always room for improvement once player get the ball over the net consistently.
Drill 4: Read the game
After a while, players are able to serve more consistently and they have to start to read the game. For example, if there is a weak defender, they can start to aim the ball in that direction to score more points. It is also necessary to take the location of the best hitter into account as they can launch a counterattack quite fast if the ball lands close to this player. Being able to read the game is an advanced skill but can really make players score more points as they find the weak link in the defense. The coach can point this out but players should be able to see this for themselves. Aiming the ball in that direction can make all the difference, as outlined in the video below:
Technique is essential in volleyball and small differences can have a big impact on how the trajectory of the ball. If you don’t master the techniques, you will never be a great player.
To conclude we outlined some drills that can improve the serve of players. We can state that discipline leads to consistency. You should repeat the same basic drills over and over again until you can do them in your sleep. It can be tempting to focus on new drills and try new techniques but this distracts you from the basics. Only after you have mastered these, you can move on to the next drills.
After becoming champion, the famous coach John Wooden showed his players how to tie their shoes again when the next season started. This might sound weird as the players were champions. Why did they have to learn how to tie their shoes? This successful coach showed his team that the basics are important. If you don’t pay attention to how you tie your shoes, you will never be great. A lot of people get distracted by new technologies and fancy new sports trends. As coach John Wooden mentions, try to focus on the basics and get these right first.
The basics in serving are as jumping and ball control. This might sound boring and mundane but you have to find the challenge in repeating the same drills over and over again. For example, you can try to keep the ball longer in the air than before. Work until your technique, ball handling, and hand-eye coordination are very good. And then repeat the drills some more. After a while, you will develop muscle memory and you will be able to perform the actions a lot faster. At this point, you will become more consistent as you have repeated the same patterns a lot of times. You won’t have to think about what you have to do anymore as it has been ingrained in your brain. It can be exhausting to have to repeat the same drill over and over again but you have to keep the long-term goal in your mind. Keep your short-term feelings in check and keep repeating the drill until you feel that you are able to do it without thinking.