Jump Serving Tips - The Dig

tips for jump serving

Jump Serving Tips

One of the most exciting things to learn how to do in volleyball, is to jump serve. This skill often comes after you’ve been aquatinted with the sport for a while and you’re ready to try something new. 

Prerequisites to the Jump Serve

Before you get started with the jump serve, there are two things you need to already know.

1. Know how to serve a standing floater.

2. know how to do a 3 or 4 step approach.

Let’s talk about the first. You need know how to do a standing float serve. The quality of the float isn’t extremely important, but you need to be pretty consistent before incorporating a jump. If you are having troubles with a standing serve, it would be in your best interest to spend your time practicing a standing serve.

I have included my serving video with some tips on the standing floater. I suggest you watch it, even if you already know how to serve. Just in case you get a pointer or two you’ve never heard before.


I also included a link to my episode on the standing floater:

How To Aim An Overhand Serve

Now on to prerequisite number 2. You need to know how to do a three or four step approach. How many steps you take doesn’t really matter. It’s important that you are really comfortable with an approach though. You’re going to be tossing the ball during the middle of your approach, so you do not want to have to think about the proper approach steps, while you’re trying to figure out the toss of the serve.  It is much easier if you know how to do an approach.

Benefits of the Jump Serve

Let’s see, biggest benefit of the jump serve? You look cool. I’m kidding (sorta). I know looking cool isn’t actually the biggest benefit of the jump serve, but you’re kidding yourself if you think I don’t know it’s crossed your mind.

In reality, the biggest advantages to the jump serve are power/speed and trajectory of the ball. The first is pretty much self explanatory.  If you jump serve, you can serve harder and faster because you’re adding more power behind the ball. The second, the trajectory of the serve, means that you are jumping, which means you do not have to hit the ball and send it up, before it travels back down.

If you can reach 6’6” feet in the air, and the net is above 7’4”, then when you serve, you have to aim up a little, so the ball goes up, over the net, and back down. When you jump serve, if you jump high, or you’re tall, you can send the ball over the net flat, or even down. This gives you a nice advantage.

Drawbacks of the Jump Serve

There are many drawbacks to the jump serve, but only based upon your comfort and ability with it. Jump serving is harder than the standard serve, so you will struggle with it for awhile before you get it down.

If you can serve specific spots with the standing serve, and you can’t with the jump serve, then it may be beneficial to do the standing floater.

If you are inconsistent with the jump serve, then you may want to serve the standing floater until you get more consistent with the jump serve.  Missing serves just because you want to look cool, isn’t cool… well at least not to your coach.

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How To Jump Serve

I guess we better cover some jump serving tips, since that’s what I promised you today!

Preparing to Serve

Let’s start by getting yourself ready to serve. Hold the ball up high-ish, out in front of you. You want to see over the ball, but you want it to look like you’re staring your normal serve. You wouldn’t start your normal serve by holding the ball by your knee, so don’t start your jump serve that way.

You’re going to have to decide if you want to toss with one hand or two hands. The first thing I’d suggest to you, is to ask your coach which they prefer.  Many coaches have a preference, and you should most definitely do it the way they’re asking you.

My preference? I actually don’t have one. But I do have some thoughts on each one.

If you toss with two hands, I find that it is a little easier to learn the toss and control the toss. The drawback to two hands is that your hands are both starting in front of you, which means you have to pull back your hitting shoulder and arm, which requires more movement and more technique.

If you toss with one hand, it can be a little tougher to get the toss right, but you can start with a ready-to-hit, hitting arm. Your body is already in position to serve, now you just need to take your steps and swing at the ball. The choice to 1 hand or 2 hand toss needs to be up to you and your coach, I’m not going to make the decision for you. I’ve seen it done effectively both ways, at high levels.

The Footwork and Toss

This is where it is super important that you know how to do an approach already. For simplicity, I’m going to talk about it as a right handed player doing a three step approach.

The steps/toss goes:

Left, toss, right, left, jump & swing, land.

Got that? It’s a lot. A normal approach is left, right, left. (You likely read that with the correct beat as well. Left, <pause>  right, left.

Now, as a jump server, you’re going to add your toss into that pause.

Left, toss, right, left.

Then, just like an approach jump, you’ll jump off two feet and hit the ball over the net. Seems easy, right? Left, toss, right, left, jump & swing, land.


Your Posture

During your approach and toss, you need to stay upright. Your arms should never drop. You want to toss the ball and immediately look like a hitter with your hitting elbow pulled back, and your non-hitting hand aiming at the ball. Hold that position for Left, Toss, Right, Left, <BAM!> <— That “bam” is you crushing the ball.


The Toss

If you’re hands don’t go down in this serve (they shouldn’t!) then you certainly do not have time for a hight toss. Toss the ball about 2-3 feet above you and no more.  If you toss too high, your timing will be way off.


It will take a while to get your toss to the right height. You’ll have to learn how high you can jump, and how high you can reach. Toss so that you’re reaching when you contact the ball. When you toss for yourself, make sure you try to toss in front of your hitting arm.



Make contact on the ball just like you would with the standing floater. Solid contact with the palm of your hand on the back of the ball.


Good luck; and practice a lot. The good news is, jump serving is fun, so practicing it should be fun too.

Hopefully I’ll produce a video on this soon. I know that a lot of the concepts would be so much easier to understand if you could watch a video with the explanation. 

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