How To Make Your Overhand Serve More Powerful

If you’re playing on a volleyball team, you’ll likely need to serve sooner or later. Whether you’re the go-to server or you avoid it every chance you get, knowing how to make your serve more powerful is important. It will make you a stronger player, and avoid the risk of needing to be subbed out during a match. 

But just because you want a more powerful arm to start the next play doesn’t necessarily mean you know where to start. Luckily, you have this guide to take you through everything you need to know for a better overhand serve. Read on so you can find the tips you need to improve your game. 

What Is an Overhand Serve?

Whenever one team scores a ball, there needs to be a serve. And overhand serve is one of the two available options for serving the ball which means getting it from the behind the end line to over the net to the other side of the court. 

An overhand serve means that the player throws the ball up with one hand and brings the other hand up and over their head to strike the ball. This is the more advanced form than underhand. This means that while mastering the technique isn’t easy, it’s possible for any player. It just takes being properly taught and lots of practice. 

How To Serve a Volleyball Overhand

The basics of how to accomplish this technique all start from behind the end line. You’ll need to ensure your feet are stable so that you don’t practice moving across the line before you’ve made contact with the ball. If you cross before touching the ball, a point will automatically go to the opposite team. Therefore, it’s best to keep the line in mind as you first begin drills. 

To begin your drills, hold the ball in your weaker hand with the same foot forward. If you’re right-handed, the ball will be in your left hand with your left foot forward, and vice versa if you’re left-handed. 

Hold your hand at about shoulder height, directly in front of you. Gently lift the ball in the air, just above your head. The dominant hand should come overhead and strike with a flat palm. The more power, the more of a power serve it will be and the more difficult it is to receive. 

Serving a Volleyball for Beginners

These tips on form won’t go far if you’re a complete beginner. Rather than doing drills on the full movement, focus your drills on the most basic mechanics. Breaking it down into smaller segments will ensure proper technique and the correct development of muscle memory. This way, you’re learning properly. Here are some tips for beginners who are only getting started at scratching the surface of this sport. 

One of the first drills you need to practice is tossing the air properly for the right height and stability. Too high, and you’re leaving too much room in the fall to go wrong. Too low, and you won’t have the space to enact proper technique on your strike. 

Other drills should focus on learning how to strike the ball. You can have someone tools the ball to you or throw it against a wall and hit it as it returns to you. 

How To Get Better at Serving in Volleyball

The expression on how to improve goes “practice makes perfect”. But let us amend this to “practicing properly makes improvement”. 

If you’re practicing your drills incorrectly, you’re developing a technique, but not necessarily the one you want. An incorrect overhead form could lead to injury. A poor form could also mean you’re not getting more powerful which is what you’re working so hard to achieve. 

To get better, you first want to study proper form closely. Use simple drills to develop your skills properly. If you can, have a coach or experienced player check your form. Once you have that form, practice. And then practice some more. 

Volleyball Arm Workout

One of the best ways to make an overhand serve more powerful is by strengthening your arms. After all, the more muscle behind your striker, the more powerful it will be. 

If you’re looking for the best arm workout to empower your striking arm, you’re in luck. Check out each arm workout and see which one may work best for you:

  • Pushups. These are excellent because not only do they target your triceps, but your chest, shoulder, and back as well. All these muscles go into a more powerful serve.
  • Single Arm Tricep Extension. With a dumbbell in one hand, place your hand overhead, extending it straight up, then bending to put your hand behind your head.
  • Double Arm Dumbbell Swing. With a dumbbell in each hand, stabilize yourself into a small lunge with one foot forward as if mid-stride. With light weights, pump your arms as if running. This not only strengthens arm muscles but teaches your core stability which is crucial to proper form.

Volleyball Serve Video Example


In this video, you can see the proper form for both and underhand and overhand serve. As you can see, the underhand is easier because it eliminates the toss, maintaining easier stability. But with enough practice, you can see that the technique required for the overhand serve isn’t too complicated. It primarily requires the right drills to master the timing of the toss and strike. 

Volleyball Powerful Serving Techniques

Technique is crucial to giving your strike the power you want. Learn more about how to get the perfect methods for a more powerful delivery. 

Volleyball Serving Form

Let’s start from the ground up. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart with your non-dominant side in front. As you move to strike, you’ll move the back foot forward. Don’t lock your arms, but rather keep a slight bent. 

The dominant hand should come up near your ear and your elbow up. Drive this hand forward and slightly upwards to strike. 

Toss Volleyball

While the dominant hand gets a lot of attention, the toss is crucial to success. It must be controlled and the perfect height. Keep a slight bend in your elbow and your arm directly in front of you. Toss with the palm and without using your fingers for force. 

What Part of Hand To Hit Volleyball Serve

When striking, only use the palm of your hand with the heel of your hand (the bottom of your palm) making the most contact and force. Don’t use your fingers as this will make any strike less powerful. 

Perfect Volleyball Serve

The perfect serve needs to follow the rules to avoid any penalties. Your feet can’t cross the line before making contact with the ball and the ball has to go over the net. 

After that, it’s about power and placement. Run your drills to ensure you can not only send the ball as far as you need it to go, but you can place it where you want it. For example, you may want to send it toward th right vs. left or the middle of the opposite team rather than near the front. 

How To Hit a Volleyball Without Hurting

If you’re looking for tips to avoid excessive pain, correct arm placement is one of the most crucial parts of striking. Just like when you do an arm workout, you need to use the correct muscles. Don’t use the most vulnerable part of your arm when you strike. 

Imagine four sides to your forearm. There’s the top, in line with the back of your hand, the two sides, and the interior side where you see your veins. If you’re striking with the interior, you will be hitting the more tender side of your arm. Instead, strike with the side that’s in line with your thumbs. 

Most Popular Serve Technique in Volleyball

In addition to the overhand and underhand methods, there are two additional techniques any dedicated player should learn. A power and floater will give you more options for strategizing and making important plays. Here’s what you need to know about the power and floater techniques. 

Floater Serve in Volleyball

A floater has little spin. Due to the lack of spin on a floater, it makes the landing locations less predictable than a straight, spinning ball. A floater leaves the other team wondering where it will land and scrambling to make a play. 

To accomplish a floater, make the toss low and controlled. When it comes time to strike, a floater should roll off the hand. This means no fingers should touch. When you only use the palm of the hand, you’ll get a floater. 

Beach Volleyball Power Serve

If you’re looking to show off on the beach, a jump-top spin is the ideal power serve move. The jump will give you more power to tightly control the ball and put it exactly where you want it to be. This is done with an overhand technique, but with a top for more power. 

How Long Do You Have To Serve in Volleyball?

When you’re called on to start the next play, you only have 5 seconds to properly serve. However, you do have the opportunity to catch a bad toss. This means, if you toss the ball up for a power serve only to realize you can’t strike properly off of that toss, catch the ball. You’ll have a chance to re-serve. 

However, if there’s any swinging motion, this will count as a serve, not as a bad toss catch, resulting in no re-serve. This means you need to decide in a moment if a toss is good enough for a power serve. 

Is It Legal To Help a Serve Over the Net?

The rules dictate that serving properly requires that once contact with the ball is made by the server, it must not be touched until it’s crossed to the other side. If the team’s player touches the volleyball before it’s crossed the net, this is a service fault, resulting in the opposing team gaining a turnover. This is true even if the team’s member doesn’t touch it purposefully and the ball just didn’t make it over the net. 

This is why a more powerful serve is a must. With an arm workout for strength, you can use the overhand serve to make it over the net every time. 

Overhand Volleyball Serve Drills

If you want a real power serve to become part of your repertoire, running drills regularly is a must. 

If you’ve mastered the basic form, drills will be what gives your serve more power. Rather than work from the end line, some top tips include working from what’s possible up to gameplay. To better follow the tips you’ve been given, grab a regulation net. Start from a distance that you know you can reach with your overhand serve. Practice hitting overhead. As you master each distance, move back until you reach the regulation distance. 

Other tips for mastering your serve involve placement. Beyond power, can you hit to a certain spot for enacting game strategy? The easiest way for practicing placement tips is to grab a partner. Have them stand at various places and try to hit to them. 

In addition to drills, include an arm workout in your routine. As you do an arm workout more frequently, you’ll see your skills in practice improve as well. 

What Are Two Types of Serves in Volleyball?

An overhand serve may be the better choice, but it’s not the only choice. This serve is also called the power serve because it comes with a little more force and speed, making it more difficult for the opposing team to respond to. However, mastering a power serve may not be for everyone. 

The other choice of serving technique is the underhand option. This form is easier to master. However, it comes from hip height rather than overhead. This may not seem like a large difference in height, but these several feet will make a difference in how quickly the ball travels. 


While you can get by in volleyball without having mastered the overhand serve, you’ll be a much better player with this technique available to you. A power serve is the perfect way to start a set against your opponent and throw them off. An underhand delivery will get the job done, but if a power serve is what your team needs, you’ll be more confident if you can provide it for them. 

Don’t settle for what you already know. Use this guide to better understand the technique required for this overhead method. You’ll become a better volleyball player, and your team will notice your impressive overhand serve.