Serving

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Try and tell the coach of any losing team that serving is not important.

After a full week at the Australian Schools Cup, I have come to the conclusion that the most poorly done skill at the event was serving, and I do not mean the technique.

I think significant gains can be made by coaches who take more notice of what the players do before they serve the ball and from where they serve the ball. Many players do not have a pre-service routine, and if they do, their pre-service routine is often not helping them.

As coaches we have to help players develop a logical, thought out and a calming pre-service routine. Many players to their disadvantage were doing their own thing.

Bouncing the ball before the serve is an appropriate part of a pre-service serving routine. Keep it to three or less bounces. One player had thirteen bounces and then served without looking at his target.

I think a good pre-service routine consists of the following elements:

  1. Pick up the ball, step on the baseline on your way back to your serving position counting the steps like a bowlers run up. Any number of steps can be appropriate, including zero. If you do this you will never foot fault again which, is one of volleyballs most stupid mistakes.
     
  2. Turn and face the net, aiming at your target. Aiming should take 3 seconds minimum.
     
  3.  What type of serve are you going to do? How hard? What trajectory, spin or float?
     
  4. Whilst you are aiming at the target, take a deep breath in and left half of it out.
     
  5. Visualise the successful serve clearing the net and flying to your target.
     
  6. Say your pre-service statement to yourself which could be “hard hand,” “watch the back of the ball” or “clear the net” so that your brain is clear what is required.
     
  7. Execute the serve.
     
  8. Move quickly to your court position and play hard.

In summary I think too much time was spent bouncing the ball, not selecting and looking at the target and not being organised enough resulting in foot faults.

By the way, if you want your players to serve in after a time out, then practice it at training. One of my great coaching mentors Harley Simpson often said:

“You have no right to expect a player to do something unless you have practiced it at training 100 times”