Once you get it down, the jump serve can be one of the most threatening weapons on the court. Here, Brent Hilliard, assistant volleyball coach for the nationally ranked San Diego women’s volleyball team, dishes on the finer points of this complex, yet effective move.
Who should use it
Most jump servers are outside hitters—effective attackers who get a lot of swings in the front row. They have good timing and can jump to reach the ball at its highest point. However, not too many middle blockers or strong defensive players jump serve—even at the collegiate level. These players are used to mid-timed balls and hitting quick sets that are very short and down the middle. They also tend to have lower arm swings, which is not good for the jump serve.
To generate enough power, we teach a four-step approach that is similar to taking an approach in the front row. Right handed athletes should take a slow or tempo first step with their right foot to identify where they’ve tossed the ball and to know where they need to be to attack it.
Use the next three steps to generate as much power and force as possible. Then jump for the ball as high as you can while also broad jumping into the court. It’s very hard to jump serve if you don’t get any forward-moving momentum.
Toss the ball with whichever hand is more accurate. Most people use their right hand, but it really depends on the athlete. Throw it high and two to three feet into the court with a nice topspin. This way you don’t have to generate all the spin with your hand and can follow through
Good topspin helps take the ball over the net, yet brings it down on the other side.
It’s easiest to contact the ball with your arm at full extension, which also happens to save your shoulder from stress.
Although your entire hand will eventually contact the ball, your initial contact should move from the palm to the top of your hand. After that, the topspin from your toss should pull your hand over the ball, until every part of your hand touches it.
Jump serving doesn’t require just an arm swing, but a full-body swing. Your arm is simply an extension, almost like a whip attached to the rest of your body. As you lean back to reach the ball, get a good arch in your back. Once the ball is in your hitting zone, pike [use your abs to pull your whole upper body forward, toward your feet], then spike the ball.
Aim to land the ball on a certain third of the court, half if you’re not very accurate. Being too specific with your aim and guiding the ball take power and speed off your serve. Decide where you’re aiming before you toss the ball—maybe, for example, when you bounce the ball before you serve. Don’t decide during the approach or any time after that.