How to Execute a Volleyball Serve with Topspin

Woman serving volleyball
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In volleyball, a topspin serve does exactly what its name implies—it spins rapidly forward from the top. The server tosses the ball a little higher than normal, strikes the ball toward the top of the back in a downward and outward motion and then follows through with their swing.

The topspin serve has a much more predictable movement than the other types of serves, but it can still be very difficult to handle because of the quick speed that is generated. Such serves are also notoriously difficult to pass, making them simple but effective. 

How to Spin a Serve

There are three main types of serves utilized in volleyball. One of the most popular and frequently used is the spin serve.

Serving a volleyball with topspin begins with the toss. Once you are properly positioned, follow these steps in order to perform a proper spin serve:

  1. Toss the ball a little higher in the air than you would when serving a floater.
  2. Strike toward the top of the back of the ball in a downward and outward motion.
  3. Follow through with your arm swing.

Other Types of Serves

In addition to the topspin serve, there are two other main types of serves that are commonly utilized in volleyball. Those are types of serves are the floater serve and the jump serve. Although there are other serves (including the beginner underhand serve), these three are most common in competitive volleyball.

Floater Serve

A float serve, also known as a floater, is a serve that does not spin at all. It is referred to as a floater because it moves in extremely unpredictable ways, which makes it difficult to receive, corral, and pass. A float serve catches the air and can move unexpectedly to the right or the left, or it can drop suddenly.

Jump Serve

The third common type of volleyball serve is the jump serve. The jump serve utilizes an even higher toss than the topspin serve, and that toss should be several feet in front of the server.

In a jump serve, the server utilizes more of an attack approach, jumping and striking the ball in the air. The extra motion generated allows the server to put additional power on the ball, and this can make the serve very difficult to handle for the receiving team.

The drawback to a jump serve is that all of the extra motion you need to utilize in the serve process can lead to a higher incidence of serving errors. Jump serves are at times difficult to control for the server and can also work to tire the server out.

Typically, jump serves have a degree of topspin on them, but it is also possible to jump-serve a floater with no spin at all.

Going for the Sky 

A less common serve that gained some notoriety during the 2016 Summer Olympics was the sky ball. Adrian Carambula, beach volleyball player from Italy, puzzled opponents with this serve, which he'd hit 100 feet high, letting in drop on the other side of the net. It's effective because of its unpredictability.