What are the 3 types of serves in volleyball? This will surprise you

Serving is restarting the game after your team has scored a point (or to start the game). This is done by standing behind the line of your part of the court. You have to send the ball over the net and in the court of the opposite team. Using the right amount of force is essential as you have to send the ball over the net but inside the court of the other team.

If you use too much force, it will go outside the court. When you don’t use enough power the ball will go in the net. If you can add a special effect, you can surprise the other team. You score an Ace when the other team is not able to touch your serve and it hits the floor on their part of the court.

Your team can win quite easily if they are able to score a lot of aces in a row as the other team is not able to react. Some servers can therefore help their team win by using powerful attacks. There are three main types of volleyball serve and each has its unique advantages and disadvantages. 

What are the 3 types of volleyball serves (or services)?

We can determine the type of serve based on how you hold your hand. In a floater your hand is flat and firm, you hit the ball in the middle. For a topspin serve you fold your hand around the ball and hit it at the top. These are the two main types of serving a volleyball.

We can add jumping to these types of serve to make it the jump float serve and jump topspin serve. The last type of serve is often not mentioned as it is very hard to perform.

Let’s discuss each of these in detail below.

Floater: precision over speed

The floater is easier than the jump serve and is often used by beginners. You are just standing on the ground, you throw the ball in the air with one hand and you contact the ball with the other hand. There is a little spin on the ball and can make it more predictable where it will hit but you can be more accurate.

If there is a weak spot in the defense of the other team, you can keep hitting it over and over again. You want to use a very firm and straight hand for this type of serve. Then you hit the ball as hard as possible. The goal is to send the ball below the antenna on the net as this makes it harder to defend. 

Top spin serve: speed over precision

The goal of this type of serve is to make sure that the ball is turning (or spinning) around rapidly when it goes over the net. This adds a lot of speed to the ball, making it more powerful. It is less precise than a floater but can be a great attack if you want to surprise the other team.

This is done by throwing the ball closer to you than if you would do it for a floater. This allows your arm to add more force to the ball. Instead of a firm hand as you would use in a floater, you are going to use a loose hand to wrap it around the ball. You wrap your hand around the ball when you are going to hit it. Your fingers go over the ball when you make this move.

You have to end the movement with your fingers pointed down to create the spin. You can listen to the sound to hear if you have made a great spin serve or not. If you hear a slapping sound, you are probably hitting the ball well. 

You can start practicing this by hitting the ball quite softly and gradually adding more power. This can be done by taking a bigger step when you hit the ball. You can do this while standing or also perform this serve while you jump. Start by standing and add the jumping movement later on.

How to jump float serve: add a special effect to the ball

This is similar to the floater that we discussed before. The first step is to dribble so that you get a good hold of the ball. More experienced players might not want to do this but it can help you to focus. It also allows you to see if there is a problem with the ball or not.

After this, the ball is thrown in the air with one hand. You use a firm hand to hit the ball in the middle but instead of standing, you are jumping. This is the most popular serve as you can add a lot of effect to the ball while still maintaining enough control. It is quite difficult to execute as you have to time the jump very well. Let’s see how Olympic gold winner Jordan Larsson of Team USA explains this in a step-by-step video: 

The challenge is to jump at the right moment as the ball is coming down and you have to hit it at the correct moment. You also can jump forward to add more force but you have to be careful that you don’t jump on the court too early as this can be a violation of the volleyball rules.

Getting a jump serve just right requires a lot of practice. Therefore not a lot of beginning volleyball players are able to pull this off. You hit the ball with a firm hand in the middle of the ball. It is easy to throw the ball too far if you don’t get it right. Therefore you have to find the right amount of force that you should use.

The steps are always the same:

1/ Dribble the ball

2/ Throw the ball in the air with one arm

3/ Jump towards the ball

4/ Hit the ball with a firm hand. Your best or strongest arm is used for this. Be sure to aim in the right direction by turning your hand.

5/ Land and be ready to play again as the ball can come your way very fast. A lot of players are not attentive enough and take too much time after their serve to start defending.

Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash

A great drill is to use a basket on the other side of the net. You have to hit the ball in the basket. Once you succeed, the basket moves again. This will help you to develop your aim and make sure that your float serves are very precise.

If you then see a weak point in the defense during the match, you are able to target this. Professional players are often testing different parts of the defense and once they have found a weak point, they keep attacking it. This is why the float serve is such a great attack.

It is possible that players have a bad streak of serves. Even top players miss some of them and this is normal. You shouldn’t spend too much energy on this during the game. Just focus on the basic steps and try to do better next time.

It is always possible to analyze the footage or discuss with your coach to see what went wrong afterward. During a match, you don’t have time for this. The only option that you have is to remain calm and try to do your best.

Some people argue that there is actually a fourth type of serve. This serve is very difficult and this is why not a lot of people use it.

Jump topspin serve: add speed and effect

Similar to the topspin serve that we discussed before, you are going to fold your hand and keep it less firm. You wrap it around the top of the ball when you hit it. Doing this while you jump is very difficult and this is mainly done by professional athletes as it is very difficult to perform.

If you are able to do it, it is often possible to break the defense of the other team and score a point as you can add speed and effects to the ball. 

To conclude, we can state that there are three main types of serves: floater, topspin serve and jump serve the ball. Each of these has its unique purposes during a game. From adding speed, effect to precision. You have to see which one works best against your opponents.

These require a lot of hand-eye coordination and you need to get the steps or jumps right. This can only be done by practicing over and over again. A lot of players don’t put enough time into this as they get bored after a while. You have to practice this every day if you want to get great at it. 

Here are some great serves:

With the discussed serves, you should be able to score a lot of points for your team!