Self Confidence in Volleyball Serve

Many junior volleyball players feel anxious when serving. Often the situation is made worse by the crowd. You may hear somebody fearfully yelling “Now just put it over the net!”Volleyball Serving Drills

How do you help your players to become more self confident when serving in volleyball?

(Editor's note: This question by the reader was very valuable for the community, so we delivered it to the mental training specialist.)

Answer for Self Confidence in Volleyball Serve:

For many years, I have taught our "Ultimate Serving Method" to players across our nation. Here's an overview of our Method:

Players need to keep their minds clear of thoughts of frustration, doubt and negativity when competing in general, and this is even more important to their performance when serving due to the "dead-time" they have prior to serving.Volleyball Serving Drills

Our conscious minds can only hold one thought at a time, so we teach players to use visualization and "key-words" to occupy their conscious mind while serving, in order to "keep out" everything else.

When performed correctly, this helps them to improve their serving consistency, accuracy and performance in pressure situations.

Here is the sequence we teach players to use everytime they serve:

1. Once you are in position to serve, take a deep breath an let it go. (This helps to release muscle tension and clear the mind)

2. Visualize the result of your serve. (See the ball go to the spot you are aiming for)

3. As you begin to toss the ball, say the word "sight" to yourself.Volleyball Serving Drills

4. As you begin to bring your hand forward to contact the ball, say the word "feel" to yourself.

5. After a successful serve, say the word "Yes" to yourself.

We also teach players to develop and use an "anchor" to train their minds to remember the feeling and success of their serving mechanics, as well as a technique to "clear" their minds of the thoughts and feelings associated with a missed serve.

Unfortunately, this column does not allow for me to go into enough detail to explain the "anchoring" and "clearing" process in detail, as teaching our Ultimate Serving Method to a group of players takes about forty-five minutes.

Until next time,

Dave Cross
National Director
Yes I Can Volleyball

Comments for Self Confidence in Volleyball Serve

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Signal Zones to Help Calm Server
by: Dennis

Players often feel more confident and comfortable when they feel they have support.

Coaches can signal the server where to serve the ball.

Signaling zones (1 through 6) can help because it gives the server something to focus on.

Also, most players like it when the coach tells them what to do.

You're also giving them something to focus on. I believe it's much easier to be an accurate server if you are really trying to place the ball rather than just trying to get it over.

Be successful is all about focus, and the better you can get your server the focus, the more successful they'll be at serving.

Confidence in Volleyball Serve - "Teach Players to Make Decisions by Themselves"
by: Loren

Sorry Dennis, but I am going to disagree with you.

I see my job as coach being partially to teach players how to derive confidence from themselves. Having someone 'tell them what to do' is what happens everywhere else in their lives. And then we wonder why players are poor decision makers.

Discuss and teach your players where to serve, who to serve, and let them learn to make that decision on their own. In the end you will end up with a much more focused, mature player.

I couldn't agree more
by: Anonymous


You're preaching to the choir. I was just speaking generally when I said to tell them what to do.

As a coach, I think you can give them some direction and lead them to start making decisions on their own. I'm not expecting my players to look over at a coach every time they have a problem.

For serving, I noticed lower level players will focus more and learn faster if the coach is involved in what's going on.

If they aren't trying to do it on their own, you've got to start somewhere.

I would first start with something basic like signaling a zone. This is better than just trying to get the ball in the court and being afraid of making a mistake. They'll feel like they have some support and they'll focus harder because they know specifically what you expect of them. Next, you can work on ball trajectory, make passers move backwards, forwards, etc. Once they start getting better, you can be more specific with them. They'll get to know what they are good at even better than the coach knows. When a player gets to this point, they can be let go to have more freedom.

My goal as a coach has always been to have my players "more involved" in the game and to get me as a coach "less involved" in what's going on.

My long term goal is to be able to just sit on the bench and not have to say or do anything for my players.


Confidence also comes from knowing you can fix your mistakes!
by: Jeff Z

I believe that "coaching" is more important if your player is not able to say "yes" as they were not successful.

One of my main goals during coaching, even with 11 and 12 year olds, is to get them to begin to "self-correct." As I tell my teams; there isn't enough time for me to correct every single error that occurs. However, the players can begin to figure out what they are doing wrong by analyzing the results of their actions.

I try to get them to see the cause and effect relationship between what they do and what naturally occurs. It sounds easy but it takes a lot of time. But, you eventually get players who begin to focus on what they are doing instead of being oblivious.

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