How to Pass the Toughest Serves

Pepperdine Athletics
Bob Ctvrtlik played for Pepperdine in the early '80s and went on to win gold with the men's national team in the 1988 Olypmics.

Let’s set the record straight. I’m not the best jumper in the world, and I’m not the quickest guy who ever played in the Olympics. But I pride myself on my consistent passing ability, and that means putting the ball on the setter’s head 95 times out of 100.

Passing is one of the most underrated skills in volleyball. These days, with so much emphasis on power, young players—especially big ones—spend most of their time practicing to become big bombers. There’s nothing wrong with being able to bring the heat, but don’t forget to spend some of that time working on passing reps, too. If you’re not a big bomber, great passing will earn you a spot on the court. If you are and you can also pass, you’ll be an extremely valuable member of your team.

Being a skilled passer may not get you the big headlines, but it will help you contribute to making the offense work efficiently. Every time you send a perfect or near-perfect pass to the setter, the chances of our siding out go up exponentially. You allow the setter to dictate the tempo and style of the offense, rather than limiting his choices with a poor pass.

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on.

Create a Perfect Platform

There are three basic types of underarm passes: straight away, to the side, and high and deep. The sketches on this page will illustrate proper form for each of them.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Pepperdine Coach Marv Dunphy always told me that to form a good platform, your two arms should work as one. One mental picture that helps me is to think of my arms as a 2x4 piece of wood, straight and working together. The closer together you can place your arms, the easier it will be for you to pass well. In general, women tend to form a more natural platform than men because of their muscle structure. In general, women tend to form a more natural platform than men because of their muscle structure. In my case, I had to stretch my shoulders and chest muscles for nearly a year and a half before I could bring my arms completely together. Remember, if your platform is correct, forget all the rest…more often than not, the pass will bounce in a true trajectory.

If a ball is to one side or another, you need to get your platform at an angle by dropping your inside shoulder. If the ball is at your right, drop your left shoulder and visa versa.

A good way to practice forming a stable platform is the old stand-by pass the ball against a wall. Pick a point on the wall, pass 20 balls to your left side without stopping and then 20 to your right. This makes you more comfortable adjusting your platform and also teaches you focus.

Also, hit some balls off the wall and over your shoulder. Work on taking a drop step and pass to the same spot.

Drop a knee on the short serve

The main key here is to judge the flight of the ball, get there early, and get your butt down. Unless you absolutely have to sprawl, stay on your feet so you’re available to attack. It’s important to get there as early as possible so you don’t have to curl the ball by scooping it with your arms.

Scouting

Before almost every serve, I look to see where I am relative to the sideline. One thing that I find very helpful is scouting the server. Not a lot of people do this, but if you watch players for a few minutes, it’s easy to see where they like to hit the ball on the serve. If you feel more comfortable passing balls that are on your right side, position yourself just to the left of the server’s favorite spot.

Next time you’re killing a few minutes between matches at a tournament, take some time to watch one rotation of an opposing team. It’ll pay off when the match starts.

The high riser

I try to stand in a spot where I know that any ball that’s hit at my neck with any kind of pace is going to go out of bounds.

Turn and extend on the high, deep side serve

If a ball is deep, turn to the side it’s coming toward and take a drop step. For instance, if it’s coming up high to your right, turn and make a deep plant with your right foot back. Bring your arms up, but be sure to hold your platform, then direct the ball up to the setter.

When you adjust to the high ball, one arm will have to slide ahead of the other. It’s the same concept as when you’re skiing and your uphill ski slides ahead of your inside ski.

Stopping the jump serve

Jump serves aren’t as intimidating as they look. In fact, I think they’re usually a lot easier to pass than float serves. It’s just a matter of getting the right tempo and adjusting your platform so the ball doesn’t go over the net.

If a player is really pounding the ball, don’t try to make a perfect pass. Just make sure it’s setable. Players often make the mistake of trying to pass a heater perfectly and end up overpassing the ball for an error.

Passing jump serves isn’t much different from making a dig. You should start in a defensive position, though not quite as low. Prepare yourself for the toughest serve, but don’t stand back on your heels. Stay balanced so you can move forward.

Again, pay attention to server tendencies. Teams should position their best passer where the server hits the ball most often. Always be looking for little clues. For example, the server may take a smaller jump or have a more relaxed armswing when serving short.

Don’t worry about giving up the perfect jump serve. If they’re going to hit the ball as hard as they can on the line, congratulations. Forget it, and move on to the next play.

Always try to get directly behind the serve. Against jump servers, take a step back so the balls are coming in at abdomen level or lower. It’s much easier to control a jump serve when it’s in front of you. If you have to take it up high, it’s hard to pass because of the velocity.

One thing I used to do before big matches was have a coach stand on a box and pound 20 balls at me, starting slow and working my way toward hard hits. That helps you get your platform ready and your trajectory set before play begins.

Cushion the tough jump serve

If a server is just ripping the ball, there are a couple of ways to take the heat off it. I had one coach over in Italy who taught us to start a roll when the ball came in and collapse behind it. That takes a lot of heat off it although I don’t like to do it unless it’s absolutely necessary because it takes you out of the offense. But if you’re in the back row, it’s no problem. Another way to take some steam off a tough serve is to bring your arms back toward your body. With this technique you can stay on your feet.

On normal passes, your platform should always be moving toward the setter, away from your body.

Collapse on a short, fast jump serve

Only use this in emergency situations. But if it’s your last option, remember to curl the ball back after your sprawl. Players often make the mistake of keeping their platform the same as normal, and when they do that, the ball goes right over the net. You have to really exaggerate the curling of your arm. If you think the ball is going to end up on the 10-foot line, it’ll probably be perfect—right on the setter’s head.

Originally published in January 1998

61 Comments

Jul 21, 2015 at 09:09AM alex1234

Would like to purchase as you will understand how it could grow with your child.visit this site

Jul 22, 2015 at 01:17PM mika1234

One thing that I find very helpful is scouting the server. Not a lot of people do this, but if you watch players for a few minutes, it’s easy to see where they like to hit the ball on the serve.
make poll

Jul 22, 2015 at 10:53PM mika1234

The closer together you can place your arms, the easier it will be for you to pass well. In general, women tend to form a more natural platform than men because of their muscle structure.
Download Itunes gift card code generator

Jul 23, 2015 at 10:35AM alex1234

Work on taking a drop step and pass to the same spot.rajdhani matka

Jul 23, 2015 at 11:35AM mika1234

If you’re not a big bomber, great passing will earn you a spot on the court. If you are and you can also pass, you’ll be an extremely valuable member of your team.
best softball bats

Jul 23, 2015 at 09:20PM alex1234

I think it might have to wait until this summer. I did not know that Serlkay had ever expanded its size.Bulksms

Jul 25, 2015 at 08:19AM jack men

One thing that I find very helpful is scouting the server. Not a lot of people do this, but if you watch players for a few minutes, it’s easy to see where they like to hit the ball on the serve. MovieTube

Jul 26, 2015 at 11:37AM alex1234

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on.ETAAPS

Jul 27, 2015 at 11:42AM NathanRider

Your website is terribly informative and your articles are wonderful.Paul Dansker

Jul 28, 2015 at 11:09AM alex1234

That helps you get your platform ready and your trajectory set before play begins.best fitness gear guides

Jul 29, 2015 at 11:20AM alex1234

I testament be stable to bookmark your blog moreover might befall spine really quickly.adelaide photographer

Jul 30, 2015 at 11:46AM alex1234

You allow the setter to dictate the tempo and style of the offense, rather than limiting his choices with a poor pass.home based jobs

Jul 30, 2015 at 12:59PM alex1234

I had to stretch my shoulders and chest muscles for nearly a year and a half before I could bring my arms completely together.email marketing

Aug 01, 2015 at 09:14AM jack men

Being a skilled passer may not get you the big headlines, but it will help you contribute to making the offense work efficiently. Every time you send a perfect or near-perfect pass to the setter, the chances of our siding out go up exponentiallyBest Golf Rangefinder

Aug 01, 2015 at 12:19PM jack men

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played onclick for more info

Aug 19, 2015 at 08:07AM mano

It is extremely useful and valuable post. I might want to visit the post yet again its profitable content. dragon city hack

Aug 19, 2015 at 11:06AM justin_0

The post is pleasantly composed and it contains numerous valuable truths. rent dedicated server

Aug 20, 2015 at 06:06AM jack men

One thing I used to do before big matches was have a coach stand on a box and pound 20 balls at me, starting slow and working my way toward hard hits. techn98.tumblr.com

Aug 20, 2015 at 07:25AM JeorgeRobbert

Thank you I am glad about the encouragement! I love your site, you post outstanding.Apartments For Rent in Jacksonville FL

Aug 20, 2015 at 09:29AM jack men

You allow the setter to dictate the tempo and style of the offense, rather than limiting his choices with a poor pass.how to stop a tooth from hurting

Aug 21, 2015 at 05:26AM JeorgeRobbert

Thank you I am glad about the encouragement! I love your site, you post outstanding.Romantic Places To Stay in Savannah Ga

Aug 22, 2015 at 06:27AM stevejones

Awesome work! That is quite appreciated. I hope you’ll get more success.electrician San Jose

Aug 22, 2015 at 07:34AM MarkHenry

I have checked this link this is really important for the people to get benefit from.residential electrician Cary NC

Aug 22, 2015 at 08:16AM jack men

If you’re not a big bomber, great passing will earn you a spot on the court. If you are and you can also pass, you’ll be an extremely valuable member of your team.Read More

Aug 22, 2015 at 08:24AM crystal63

I simply began in this and I'm becoming more acquainted with it better! Cheers, keep doing awesome! how to get lots of followers on instagram apps to get more likes on instagram

Aug 22, 2015 at 09:42AM jack men

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on. pay for instagram

Aug 22, 2015 at 11:04AM JohnBrett

This is one of the most important blogs that I have seen, keep it up!http://www.nomoreh1b.com/greg-jacobs-incredible-dream-machines-review-and-exclusive-bonus/

Aug 22, 2015 at 03:52PM justin_0

Furthermore, will confine the advantages from this data.This article gives the light in which we can watch the truth. Andrew

Aug 23, 2015 at 07:58AM jack men

You allow the setter to dictate the tempo and style of the offense, rather than limiting his choices with a poor pass.Fear The Walking Dead Episode 2 Movietube

Aug 23, 2015 at 10:15PM alex1234

I put things off too much and never seem to get started. Thanks though.best probiotic

Aug 24, 2015 at 06:43AM jack men

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on. soundcloud plays ! get followers

Aug 24, 2015 at 08:21AM jack men

You allow the setter to dictate the tempo and style of the offense, rather than limiting his choices with a poor pass.http://www.rudolphsfansite.nl

Aug 24, 2015 at 09:22AM jack men

Every time you send a perfect or near-perfect pass to the setter, the chances of our siding out go up exponentially. You allow the setter to dictate the tempo and style of the offense, rather than limiting his choices with a poor pass.Go Coupons Go

Aug 24, 2015 at 03:11PM wolf

I realize that your great information in playing with every one of the pieces was extremely useful. project free tv online

Aug 24, 2015 at 03:58PM alex1234

You have provided great information in you post and some things I have not seen in other content I have read by others.what is intermittent fasting

Aug 25, 2015 at 05:58AM jack men

Not a lot of people do this, but if you watch players for a few minutes, it’s easy to see where they like to hit the ball on the serve. rap instrumentals

Aug 25, 2015 at 06:37AM waqas ali

send a perfect or near-perfect pass to the setter, the chances of our siding out go up exponentially. You allow the setter to dictate the tempo this

Aug 26, 2015 at 06:02AM jack men

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on. http://boostmytest.com/

Aug 26, 2015 at 08:32AM waqas ali

El modelo de ajustes, paro y recesión para salvar de la quiebra a los bancos de toda Europa es la conclusión de una etapa de euforia especulativa que fue bendecida por los mismos gobernantes que ahora defienden la quita a los ahorros de toda la sociedad. Poker Indonesia

Aug 26, 2015 at 09:40AM waqas ali

passing reps, too. If you’re not a big bomber, great passing will earn you a spot on the court. If you are and you can also pass, you’ll be an extremely valuable member of your team. Loadingpageis

Aug 26, 2015 at 12:52PM jack men

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on. Deafness Info

Aug 27, 2015 at 06:24AM jack men

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on. where can I buy lingerie

Aug 27, 2015 at 09:53AM jack men

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on. Gay Porno World

Aug 27, 2015 at 11:36AM mano

Extraordinary work! Hey this was an awesome post. That was really great data. website ontwerp

Aug 27, 2015 at 12:00PM jack men

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on. world's best kitchen knives

Aug 27, 2015 at 12:30PM jack men

Every time you send a perfect or near-perfect pass to the setter, the chances of our siding out go up exponentially. You allow the setter to dictate the tempo and style of the offense, rather than limiting his choices with a poor pass.Read More

Aug 28, 2015 at 09:58AM waqas ali

Energético ya ha planteado esa denuncia ante las instituciones europeas contra el incumplimiento de la directiva de renovables y contra las prácticas que restringen el acceso de los particulares a los tribunales europeos. High PR ! armansyed SEO

Aug 29, 2015 at 09:19AM jack men

There are three basic types of underarm passes: straight away, to the side, and high and deep. The sketches on this page will illustrate proper form for each of them.Get backlinks from Marketing1on1.com, boost your rankings

Aug 29, 2015 at 11:29AM alex1234

Representative encourages an inclusive process resulting in the appointment of qualified and widely respected complaints’ commissioners.photo booth rental los angeles

Sep 01, 2015 at 06:09AM jack men

There are three basic types of underarm passes: straight away, to the side, and high and deep. The sketches on this page will illustrate proper form for each of them.Io hawk

Sep 01, 2015 at 07:57AM jack men

Pepperdine Coach Marv Dunphy always told me that to form a good platform, your two arms should work as one.best aluminum baseball bats 2015

Sep 01, 2015 at 10:29AM jack men

Being a skilled passer may not get you the big headlines, but it will help you contribute to making the offense work efficiently. Every time you send a perfect or near-perfect pass to the setter, the chances of our siding out go up exponentially. You allow the setter to dictate the tempo and style of the offense, rather than limiting his choices with a poor pass.www.toothachepainrelief.net

Sep 01, 2015 at 12:20PM alex1234

You have the power of evolving in that way, that soon Your blog will be the most read of all people.best aluminum baseball bats 2015

Sep 01, 2015 at 01:11PM jack men

There’s nothing wrong with being able to bring the heat, but don’t forget to spend some of that time working on passing reps, too. If you’re not a big bomber, great passing will earn you a spot on the court. If you are and you can also pass, you’ll be an extremely valuable member of your team.Vintage Porn

Sep 02, 2015 at 06:04AM jack men

Good passing makes everyone look good. Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I’ve always become good friends with the setter on every team I’ve ever played on. here

Sep 03, 2015 at 07:59AM jack men

Passing is one of the most underrated skills in volleyball. These days, with so much emphasis on power, young players—especially big ones—spend most of their time practicing to become big bombers. http://www.padisoft.org

Sep 03, 2015 at 12:27PM jstatham027

If you are and you can also pass, you’ll be an extremely valuable member of your team this

Sep 04, 2015 at 12:36PM RockeFeller

The superb highly informative blog I’m about to share this with all my contacts.electricians Cary

Sep 05, 2015 at 07:41AM jack men

You should start in a defensive position, though not quite as low. Prepare yourself for the toughest serve, but don’t stand back on your heels. Stay balanced so you can move forward.fare trading binario

Sep 05, 2015 at 11:30AM JackMorgan

Awesome work! That is quite appreciated. I hope you’ll get more success.Mark Curry

Sep 05, 2015 at 01:29PM wolf

Extraordinary work. just got to this astonishing site in the no so distant past. free codes

Add a Comment

You need to log in to comment on this article. No account? No problem!

Advertisements