Volleyball Serving Rules

Mid-adult woman posing with volleyball on beach

The serve is vital in the game of volleyball. The server hits the ball over the net to the opponent, and the rally goes until the ball is not returned properly, grounded on the court or goes “out,” advises the Federation Internationale De Volleyball. A toss before the game gives the winner a chance to choose whether his team will serve or receive first.


When the team that served the ball loses the rally the other team gets possession of the ball, according to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. When that team takes possession, players rotate by one position moving clockwise. When the serving team wins the point the players stay where they are and the same person serves the ball, according to “Coaching Volleyball for Dummies,” by The National Alliance for Youth Sports. The person in Zone 1, or the rear right position, serves the ball.

Ball Drop

If the person serving the ball steps into the court or on the line before she hits the ball, the team loses the serve. If the server threw the ball, she can let it drop and take another toss only one time per rotation. The server cannot catch the ball in this case. Catching the ball means the team loses the serve, advises Carnegie Mellon University.

Hitting the Net

When a serve hits the top of the net and crosses to the opposing team’s side it is considered good. If the ball falls back onto the serving team’s side then the ball changes possession. Both of these are called “let serves.”

Service Scoring

Under service scoring, only the team that is serving is allowed to score points. If the ball changes possession without a point scored, it’s called a side-out. Utilizing this rule can be good for games with young players because it makes the game longer. This gives players more chance to get involved in scoring points, and it gives coaches who have big rosters more opportunities to rotate more players into the game, advises NAYS.