February 16, 2017

Reading the Server

Coach, I have done quite a lot of searching for info. re:  "reading the server" for the back row players.   

A lot of data says you must "read the server", but I am trying to give my 13-year-old daughter more specifics about specifically WHAT to watch for and WHERE the ball is likely to go as a result.  Instead of merely reacting to the serve, it seems that she could be much more PROACTIVE and more effective, if she has an idea of where the ball is heading.

Do you have any simple "If the server does this, then look for XXX" type tips?

Thank you Coach!


Congratulations!  No other reader has asked me about 'reading' the server!

In the same way a baseball, softball or tennis player tries to read the server, so should the passers.  Getting that split second jump on the ball, can make a huge difference between an acceptable pass or a perfect​ pass.

My keys:
  • Servers tend to face exactly where they are going to serve, before they even toss the ball.
  • If they toe the line, they will probably serve short, especially if they usually stay a bit deeper on the serve;  Please note, that deep and short on a club tournament sport court may only be 10 feet.  Much different in high school and college gyms.
  • At the high school/club level, if the player serves away from where they initially face, they tend to turn their shoulders in the direction they wish to serve just before contact.
  • Armswing will tell you so much about the incoming speed and trajectory.  Watch the arm speed; if the player arm slows down, it will be shorter, if it speeds thru the serve, it will be deeper.
  • Toss; a high toss tends to lead to a higher arc on the serve while a shorter toss tends to yield a flatter serve.
Even though there are 3 types of serves; standing float, jump float and jump (spin) serve, the above suggestion should hold true.

To practice, just have your daughter watch players serve in a match and try to guess where and how they will be serving.

Good luck!


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