There are rules when it comes to serving and they may be some of the most overlooked aspects of volleyball. Next week we’ll look at serving zones and how teams use the serve to make things difficult on an opponent. But before we get there we need to talk about the serve itself, one of the two most important aspects of the game (along with passing) in the rally-scoring era, and the rules that come with serving.
Never miss a serve after a timeout. Coaches usually call timeouts for one of two reasons. One, their team is struggling and they feel like a timeout will help them settle down. It allows a coach to go over a game plan to somehow try to get something rolling. Two, they are trying to “ice” the server on the other team. The coach is hoping for a momentum change, and this usually happens in close games. If a player were to miss a serve after a timeout, then they could be playing into the opposing coach’s plan.
Never miss a serve after a teammate in front of you has missed a serve. Coach John Cook always says, “We will never miss two serves in a row.” Although it sometimes happens, that is something he preaches day in and day out. If the person in front of you misses a serve that is a free point for the other team. If the next person misses a serve that is another free point, and usually a momentum-shifter.
Never miss a serve on game point. How many times have we seen a player miss a serve on game point in a close match, and then go on to lose the game even though it had the lead? I know I have seen it too many times. That is why you simply never miss a serve on game point. This one matters most when you are in a tight game. You can’t afford to give away any free points if the score is neck-and-neck.
Never miss a serve in the net; always miss long. The reason for this is simple: If you miss a serve in the net the other team has no chance to play it and automatically gets the point. If you miss a serve long the other team has to consider if they are going to play it and in the end you could end up with that point. Sometimes one player will think a ball is going out, but the perspective of another player is that the ball is in. Always give your opponent the opportunity to make that mistake.
Stick to the routine. The last serving rule that Nebraska focuses on — and a lot of other teams across the country do as well — is the importance of a player’s serving routine. Some spin the ball, some bounce it, some take a deep breath and some visualize. Everyone is different and every routine is different. The reason why the routine is crucial is because it helps focus the player and prepares them to serve. It also provides a consistent familiarity, which has proven to relax players, especially when they are serving under pressure.
Need more of The Lo-Down? Check out the first entry in the series here.
Lauren joined Hail Varsity in 2017 as a contributing writer covering Nebraska Volleyball. Lauren played volleyball at UCLA in 2009 and then finished her collegiate volleyball career at the University of Nebraska from 2010-2012. After college, she played professional volleyball in Switzerland and Puerto Rico before making her way back to Lincoln. Lauren considers herself a wine connoisseur and a major “foodie” and she also loves to travel the world. Lauren and her husband, Jason, married in 2018.