5 Volleyball Serving Drills to Improve Consistency and Accuracy

Serving may seem like a static task – just stand there and get it over the net – but the serve can be one of the more pivotal moments of a match.

It’s important to not only practice serving the volleyball, but to try and simulate a game-like environment as much as possible.

In this post, I’ll show you 5 volleyball serving drills that will develop consistency and accuracy.

Many of these drills will also create scenarios of serving under duress, featuring running to simulate serving while tired, or adding pressure to mimic an important serve.

Here we go...

1. Target Practice

How it Works:

Players compete against each other to be the first to hit the target enough times to score a predetermined point score.

Purpose:

This drill encourages accuracy under pressure versus simply “getting the ball in”. It creates an element of competition to mimic game-like pressure.

Drill Setup:

  • Two players on the same end line, each with a basket of balls available

  • Two targets placed on opposite court (ball basket or hula hoop or another player)

  • Rest of team will shag balls to keep them available for players serving

Instructions:

  1. Each player takes a turn hitting one of two targets in opponent court.
  1. Award and remove points for: hitting target (+4), hitting net (-2), or hitting out (-2).
  1. The first player to reach a preset number of points (16 or 20 to start is best), wins and moves on to “winner’s circle” – two new teammates will compete.

Variations:

Round Robin – You can create a tournament format that allows for an overall winner. This will add to the competitive and pressure scenarios.

Coaching Points:

  • Award winners by allowing them to skip a sprint or avoid helping clear the gym. This will create more pressure to win.

  • Serving players should take turns, allowing them to go through their typical serving routine with each attempt. Focus on game like serves.

2. Feed the Snake

How it Works:

Players attempt to serve to a precise spot on the court to a teammate that is seated on the floor. If the ball is caught, the server joins the seated player while the rest attempt to join them as well. All players must be seated within the time limit to “win” the drill.

Purpose:

This volleyball serving drill adds an element of fun, while tasking players to display pin point accuracy. A time limit for success creates a pressurized environment.

Drill Setup:

  • All players are on the serving line, with baskets of balls available

  • A coach or volunteer is seated on opposite court in zone six

  • Each player on serving line has a ball ready to serve

  • Set a time limit to reach the goal of all players seated

Instructions:

  1. At the signal, all players attempt to serve a ball to the player seated in the opposite court.
  1. Once the seated player catches a ball directly (not off a bounce), the player who served that ball sits next to the seated person.
  1. The remaining servers attempt to serve to any seated players.
  1. The process continues until all players are seated.
  1. If all players are seated at the end of the time limit, the team wins the drill.
  1. If any players remain standing, the entire team loses the drill.

Variations:

Time Crunch – As the drill gets easier with more players seated, remove time in increments off the clock for each seated player. This adds even more pressure to the remaining players to complete an accurate serve.

Coaching Points:

  • Drills like this are meant to be fun but good serving technique should not be sacrificed. Encourage good tosses, specifically, during such a chaotic moment.
  • Play music or have the seated players make noise to enhance the stress level for the remaining players.
  • Create an award for beating the clock – like open scrimmage or a doubles tournament to add pressure to win.

3. Around the World

How it Works:

Players will all serve at once, attempting to hit a ball basket in each zone sequentially. Once the basket has made it around all six zones twice in a predetermined amount of time, the team “wins” the drill.

Purpose:

Being able to serve to every zone on the court is vital to taking advantage of an opponent’s poor serve receive. This drill practices the ability to serve to each zone, while adding pressure of a time limit.

Drill Setup:

  • Six players should be aligned behind the service line, with a good supply of balls to start

  • Place a ball basket in zone one on the opposite court

  • The rest of the team will shag balls and roll them back under the net to keep the serving side stocked

Instructions:

  1. Set a goal time to accomplish two trips around the six zones.
  1. Once the drill Is set, all player should begin serving with the intent of hitting the basket.
  1. Once the basket is hit, whoever served the ball that hit the basket will run under the net and move the basket to the next zone.
  1. Once the basket has been hit in all six zones twice, or if the time expires, the drill is over.

Variations:

Power Up Around the World – For each serve that does not hit the basket, the player must do five pushups and three jump squats before attempting again. This variation adds an element of conditioning that is valuable to serving when fatigued.

Coaching Points:

  • Encourage players to serve from the same spot throughout the drill, utilizing their bodies to aim for the different zones. This eliminates dependence and predictability when serving from spots aligned with the target.

4. Rapid Choice

How it Works:

Players are tasked with hitting a target called out immediately before serving. For a player to “win” he or she must hit the called target on the first try.

Purpose:

This drill helps players with the challenge of serving to different targets throughout a set or match. The lack of preparation simulates the in-game scenario of signaling zones during a match.

Drill Setup:

  • All players form a single file line awaiting a turn to serve

  • Six targets are set up in each zone of the opposite court

  • A basket of balls is available to the serving line

Instructions:

  1. A coach or designated player will call out a target number corresponding to the zone the target is in.
  1. The player up to serve will immediately serve the ball toward the target.
  1. If the player hits the assigned target, they can leave the line.
  1. If the player misses the assigned target, they must move to the end of the line.
  1. If possible, the last player remaining should shag the balls.

Variations:

Team Play – This can be done as team versus team, allowing for a more competitive natured drill with higher pressure.

Coaching Points:

  • Emphasize a proper strike with a firm wrist and the hand following through to the assigned target.

  • Assign a serving spot on the service line to ensure players are practicing from a variety of locations.

5. Kill the Cones

How it Works:

Teams compete to knock down the cones of the opponent placed in specific zones of the court. The first team to knock down all the cones of the opponent wins the drill.

Purpose:

This is one of the best volleyball serving drills for developing pinpoint accuracy inside of a zone and learning how to serve consistently under pressure.

Drill Setup: 

  • Teams are divided equally behind serving lines on each side of the court

  • Each court has two zones with six small cones inside each zone (12 per side)

  • Each player gets a ball

Instructions:

  1. A team is selected to go first, and one player will serve – attempting to knock down the cone on the opposite court.
  1. Teams alternate serves, one player at a time.
  1. Once all the cones have been knocked down on one side, the drill is over and the team with cones remaining wins the drill.

Variations:

One Cone Corners - Place one cone in each back corner. Teams alternate serves attempting to knock the cone. Each cone hit is a point. Set a goal score to determine a winner.

All for One – Each side will serve at will, attempting to knock the cones down. The first team to knock them all down wins.

Coaching Points:

  • This is an opportunity to teach patience under pressure, as each serve counts.

Conclusion

Serving is one of the main volleyball skills that requires a high level of focus.

These volleyball serving drills combine the development of required muscle memory with stressors like noise, pressure, and fatigue.

Finding ways to create pressurized situations that mimic the intensity of a big game moment is essential to preparing players to perform during a match.

Use the drills to have your team serving with pinpoint accuracy on a consistent basis.

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