wikiHow to Do an Underhand Serve

Three Parts:Getting In PositionAiming the BallPerforming the Serve

In the sport of volleyball, performing an underhand serve is one of the most basic skills you will need. Serving is the only time in a volleyball match when you have the opportunity to be in control of a stationary ball, and you can also score a lot of points this way, so it’s important to develop good technique. An underhand serve doesn't take as much strength as an overhand serve or as much practice as a jump serve, so it's great for beginners.

Part 1
Getting In Position

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    Get your feet into position. Stand with your non-dominant foot in front with your toes facing forward. Your dominant foot should be in the back with toes pointed slightly out.
    • Shift your weight to your dominant foot.
    • Make sure your hips are facing straight forward, not angled to the side.[1]
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    Ready the ball. Cup your non-dominant hand slightly and place the ball in it. Make sure the ball securely balanced so it won't wobble or fall out of your hand. [2]
    • Keep your fingers slightly loose to distribute the weight of the ball. This will help it stay balanced.
    • Don’t grip the ball with your fingers. You want it to be stable, but it still has to be able to fly out of your hand when you hit it.
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    Lower the ball. Bring the arm holding the ball across to the side of your body in front of your hitting arm. The ball should be at the height of your mid-thigh. [3]
    • Straighten the arm with the ball in it, and move it to the side by shifting your arm at the shoulder, not the elbow.
    • You want the ball to be low so that you can put more power into it as you move your whole body forward and up.
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    Lean your shoulders forward. Move your hips back and keep your upper back straight as you bring your shoulders towards the ball. This brings your a little closer to the ball so that you have more control.
    • Don’t hunch over but make sure you aren’t standing up straight.
    • As your hips move back, you can raise the toes on your front foot so your heel is touching the ground and your toes are pointing up.

Part 2
Aiming the Ball

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    Choose a strategic place for the ball to land. You want to confuse the opposition as much as possible. If you are practicing on your own it might not seem as important, but when you’re playing on a team you will want the ball to go where you aim it-- so practice aiming!
    • First, practice aiming for the deep right or deep left of the court. This will force passers to move out of formation.
    • After you practice that, begin aiming for places between players. This will cause players to be confused about who should get the ball, which will improve your strategic advantage. [4]
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    Adjust your angle to the net. If you are aiming for the deep left, your shoulders will point left and your back foot will move slightly right, and vice versa. [5]
    • Trace a straight line with your eyes across the court. Bring your eyes from your chosen landing spot to the point on the bottom of the ball where you will hit it.
    • If you have to move your head to the side to trace a line from your landing point to your contact point, you should adjust your feet and shoulders so that you are facing your chosen landing point.
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    Squeeze your hitting hand into a fist. Then, rotate your arm so that your closed fingers and the inside of your wrist are facing up.
    • Picture your fist hitting the contact point on the ball, and following a line to the point where you want it to land.
    • It is also possible to have your fist facing the side, with your wrist turned inside and your thumb facing up.

Part 3
Performing the Serve

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    Determine the arc of the ball. The desired arc of the ball depends on whether you want the ball to land in deep on the opposing side, or closer to you. Hitting the ball with more force forward will mean that the ball will fly lower and faster to the back of the court, while hitting the ball upward will mean that the ball will fly higher and land closer to you.
    • Usually, low arcs that end deep are desirable in volleyball. They are hard to pass and control, and so it is more likely that you can score points on them.
    • If you know that two people closer to the front will be confused by a serve landing between them, you can aim for a higher arc that ends there.
    • If you are looking for more speed and control, you may want to try an overhand serve.
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    Draw your hitting arm straight back. It should move quickly, like a pendulum. Then swing it forward firmly, hitting the bottom of the ball with your closed fist.
    • You should hit the ball just below the center so it will follow an upward trajectory over the net.[6]
    • Speed up your swing just before you make contact with the bottom of the ball.
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    As you swing your arm, step forward. You should shift your weight onto your non-dominant foot, which should be in front. Move your whole body forward and up, propelling the ball over the net.
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    Follow through with your arm. Your arm should continue in an upward arc after you hit the ball. Bringing your arm all the way up will better guarantee a straight and true flight path over the net. [7]
    • Keep your arm straight. It should swing straight up like a pendulum, to a height equal to or just above your head.
    • Recall the imaginary line you traced from your landing point to your contact point. Your fist should trace over that line as it follows through.
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    Get into a ready position. After you serve the ball, get ready immediately. Stand facing forward with your feet shoulder width apart, legs bent, and arms straight down in front of you with hands clasped together.
    • Allow your arms to linger on the follow-through before clasping them together to get ready.
    • You can briefly check to see how your ball lands, but don’t get too distracted to do your part when the ball comes back over the net.


  • You’ll need to practice your swing many times in order to figure out how hard to hit it to make it over the net.
  • Try serving from different angles. The more you practice the better you’ll become at knowing how this will affect the flight of the ball.
  • Don't throw the ball with your left instead of hitting it with your right.


  • A soft ball will be best for learning to serve and will be less painful.

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Categories: Volleyball