Beach volleyball techniques: the service

We have previously talked about the differences between beach volleyball and regular volleyball. We also shared the most important beach volleyball rules. Now it’s time to look at the techniques of beach volleyball. Let’s start with the service technique.

Due to the special rules and conditions of beach volleyball, in addition to the basic techniques such as digging and hitting, special techniques have been developed that do not exist in this form in indoor or regular volleyball. From the Skyball (serve) to the Tomahawk (trap), to the Cobra-Shot (attack).

Serving at beach volleyball

The game’s first action is the serve. However, it’s not just about the player opening; a strong serve allows you to score after the first turn. Here are several serving strategies:

The Floater

The floater is a simple form of serve where you throw the ball up with one arm and hit it over the other half with your batting arm. Make sure you throw the ball in front of your shoulder without rotating it and play it with your flat hand in the middle. With this serve, the ball has no rotation, so it flutters. The direction you play the ball is determined by the angle of your open hand, so make sure your wrist is steady and does not fold.

A standing floater goes as follows:

  • Hold the ball straight in front of you with your left arm. Stand with your left foot forward. Your right arm is in the air, ready to attack the serve.
  • With your left hand, throw the ball over your right shoulder.
  • Take a step with your left foot while your right hand attacks the ball at the highest point of contact with a flat hand on the back of the ball.

The flat hand is crucial in serving the ball; therefore, this is called a float serve. A good float is an unpredictable and fast ball given the float-and-drop effect.

The Topspin

Easier to execute than the floater, but harder to perfect is the top spin. In this serve, you throw the ball in the air with one or both arms in front of you and hit the ball into the opponent’s half with your hitting arm. Unlike the floater, you must play the ball across the middle and fold your wrist forward to give it the desired rotation. If you rotate the ball a bit when you throw it, it will be even more dangerous to opponents.

This is the least seen serve for a simple reason, but how do you serve a top spin? We explain:

  • Start about the same as a standing float (see above), unless you decide to serve with the same hand you throw with. This is rare for a standing topspin, but not unheard of.
  • Throw the ball over your right shoulder.
  • Grab the ball at your highest point, start low at the back of the ball and rotate your hand along the back of the ball as you hit it.

The reason why a standing top spin is rarely used is because it is quite easy to serve and pass. If the passer can follow the ball coming over the net and get under the ball well, a spin serve is easy to pass.

The jump service

The two, floater and topspin, can be executed both when standing and when jumping. Thus, the jump serve is not a serve per se, but rather a possible execution.

The Skyball

The Skyball is a special form of serving in beach volleyball. Here you use the weather, especially the sun and wind, to your advantage. The Skyball is an underhand serve, where you play the ball very high in the air. The sun makes it difficult for your opponent to see the ball, which makes it difficult to receive the ball properly. The wind can also help make the ball unpredictable. This serve is always particularly effective when you have the sun at your back or when your opponent has trouble judging the direction of the ball in the air.

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