Learning The Float Serve

One of the most important skills you can develop as a volleyball player is the float serve. A ball that is it with a float serve will actually float on the air as opposed to just being shot forward. This type of serve is important for several reasons. A ball that floats can be hard to track; it can be difficult to decide exactly where the ball is going to land. Because of this, the defenders have to be on their toes to ensure they are ready to move as the ball comes to them. Another importance of the float serve is the fact that the wind can catch and direct a floating ball, making it drop in a seemingly random place. The float can also be difficult to hit back due to its lack of spin.

Theory of the Float Serve:

Any ball hit over the net floats in its own way, right? The thing to understand about a float serve is that the ball has no spin on it. Removing the spin from a ball allows more air to affect the course of the ball from all directions. This gives it the ability to be affected by updrafts and wind currents with less resistance. Picture a bouncing ball without any spin rebounding off of a wall. That rebound will be more likely to follow an exact opposite path from the direction it hit the wall. When the same ball is hit at a wall while it is spinning, the ball has a tendency to bounce back at a completely different angle, often losing some of its speed in the process. Knowing the theory of the float serve should help to understand what you are trying to accomplish when serving.

Technique of the Float Serve:

The actual physical mechanics of serving a floating ball can be fairly easy to master. The method described here is for a right-handed server, but can be reversed for left-handers. When serving, you want to stand about a foot behind the endline, with your left foot in front, pointing straight ahead and your right foot turned almost sideways holding your weight. Facing forward should give your body about a 45 degree angle at the waist. Hold the ball ahead of you in your left hand, about waist level. Your right hand should be pointing upwards behind your head, slightly bent. Toss the ball a little over your head, slightly in front of you. Shift your weight to your left foot and hit the back of the ball with the flat of your palm. You should only be following through about halfway.

Tips of the Float Serve:

Once you have the mechanics down, it is time to perfect the technique. When holding the ball, you want to hold it so the air hole is in the center of your palm. The air hole is the heaviest part of the ball and will be affected the most by gravity. If it is facing down, the ball won’t spin when the air hole is pulled down. You also want to ensure that you hit the ball right in the center, with only your palm. Using your fingers or hitting it anywhere except the center of the ball will put more pressure on one side, thus causing spin. When shifting your weight forward, drag your back leg along the path of the hit. This helps guide your body in the straight line it needs to hit the ball correctly.

With some good practice, you will find it relatively easy to hit a float serve. This will create a ball that can be difficult to return, thereby creating an opening for a point without even having the ball hit back over the net. The perfect float serve can mean the difference between a good player and a great player.