An ace is a special way to score a point. The defenders are not able to touch the serve. The server is standing behind the court and pushes the ball over the net. If the other team is not able to touch the ball before it lands inside their court, it is called an ace. Great servers can score a lot of points for a team and if you score a lot of aces in a row, you can win a match quite easily. Therefore an ace is scoring a point after a serve (or service) while the other team was not able to touch the ball.
Definition of an ace in volleyball
An ace is a serve or service that hasn’t been touched by the other team. We can distinguish between different types:
1/ The defenders were not able to catch the ball. This is the strict definition of an ace as the defenders were powerless against your serve.
2/ The defenders were not able to control the ball and dropped it. This is a broader definition of an ace as the defense had the possibility of stopping it.
3/ The ball touched the net but went over it. The defenders couldn’t stop it.
4/ The defenders made position errors or another mistake (such as foot fault)
All of these can lead to a point for the team that is serving. The first scenario is always the greatest as you were able to defeat the defenders in a clean manner. Scoring an ace is a great feeling anyway, even if the defenders could touch the ball. Players that score their first ace ever often celebrate this as it is a great achievement.
An ace is sometimes also viewed as a star player. For example in the popular TV show Haikyuu it is mentioned in this context. An ace is then a player that is able to beat the defense often. Volleyball is a team game but players that can score a lot of aces in a row can really push the team forwards. In some tournaments, the player that scores the most aces wins a trophy and gets a prize.
The term ace is also used in other sports, such as tennis, and has a similar meaning there. Now you know a lot about other sports as well, just by reading this article.
How to score an ace in volleyball
The other team is not able to respond to the attack and this can be very demotivating for them. The attacking team might even have some special cheers to taunt the other team after a serve. You have to be careful with this as you can annoy them and they can start to play better after this. The fastest serve ever is executed by Wilfredo Leon. This Cuban outside hitter served the ball faster than 84 miles per hour. To give some perspective, this is how fast a car drives on a highway. This makes it very hard for the defenders to react to this.
If you want to score an ace, you have to work on your aim. You have to see who the weakest defender is and aim the ball in that direction. You can also aim at the lines as this makes it harder for the defenders if they are not standing close by. There are several drills that can help you to improve this.
My favorite one involves serving as usual but there is a target (or basket) on the court. You have to get the ball inside of this target. Once you succeed at this, the target is moved and you start again. This is done until you have hit the target multiple times. A great server will be able to do this. It can take several weeks to get this right as small nuances (such as turning your hand) can have a big impact on where the ball lands. This drill helps you with making sure that you can see what impact your movement has on the ball. The best servers spend several hours every week on this to really get a feel of where the ball will go. Volleyball is played with the same ball and net height across competitions so if you are great at serving, you can score a lot of points during your career.
There are also drills to improve the power of a serve. This can be done by using the right arm swing technique. It is also essential that you can jump high if you want to serve fast. A drill to jump higher is to use ankle weights and jump several times in a row. Improving your run-up can also help.
What is a service ace in volleyball?
There are two main ways of serving: a topspin and a floater.
A topspin is throwing the ball in the air and smashing the ball with the other hand. The ball that smashes the ball goes around the top of the ball. This adds a lot of effect to the ball and can make it quite unpredictable for the defense to know where it will land. This requires a lot of practice as it is easier to hit the ball in the net in this way.
A floater on the other hand is hitting the middle of the ball with the palm of your hand. This adds more power and speed to the ball. This is an easy way to get the ball over the net but can be quite predictable as the ball is going in a straight line. Underhand serves (where the hand that hits the ball is lower than in an overhand serve) are not used that often as they are less precise. Some junior team and beginners use this but you almost never will see a professional player use this type of serve.
In the past players used to stand still when they served. Nowadays players generally jump while they serve as this allows them to send the ball farther down the court. You can also add more power to the ball, making it harder for the defenders to intercept the ball.
Some players have developed their own techniques as can be seen below. This is only for advanced players and you should be great at the basics before you try these:
It is not allowed to block a serve. The ball can hit the net while going over it so it is possible to drop the serve just behind the net. The defenders might not expect this as the ball generally goes to the second row (where the best defenders are standing). This can be a great way to score. As a server you have to try and find the weakest defenders on the other team and send the ball this way. If they keep dropping the ball, it is possible that this player will get substituted. This is why a lot of coaches will ask for a timeout or will replace a player if they see that a lot of aces are being scored in a row.
Scoring an ace can give a great feeling as it is a hard thing to do. It should happen a few times every match but given that defenders are quite good, it won’t happen in every set. Defenders will often dive (or slide over the floor) to make sure that they can keep the ball in the air. The main purpose of the libero player is to make sure that the server can’t score. Therefore they are not doing their job very well if the server is able to score a lot of aces.
It is also possible to score an ace in beach volleyball. The court is smaller but there are fewer players on the court. This makes a great serve even more interesting than for indoor volleyball. This is why beach volleyball players spend a lot of time improving their serve.
To conclude, an ace is a term that is used to indicate a way of scoring. The serve goes over the net and lands in the court of the other team while they are not able to touch the ball. This means that their defense was not able to stop the attack. While the serve only counts for one point, it can give a great feeling to score one. If you can score several in a row, you can win the set quite easily.