What Is Serve Receive in Volleyball?

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Since serving is one of the most essential moves in volleyball, you must know how to receive it. If you are new to this sport, you might be wondering ‘’what is serve receive in volleyball?’’ and how to perform it correctly.

What Is Serve Receive in Volleyball?

In volleyball, a serve receive is the action of defending the opposing team’s serve. Since it is often a powerful shot, it is done by bumping the ball and passing it to a teammate. This way, the defending team prevents an ace and keeps the ball in play.

An image of a player serving in volleyball

If the team fails to do so, the opponent would score an ace, which is a point scored directly from the serve. On top of that, if the defending team receives the ball and it goes out of bounds, it would be considered a reception error, and the opponents would win the point.

For example, if your team serves the ball and your opponent bumps it, they would have completed a serve receive. On the other hand, if your team serves the ball and it falls into the opponent’s ground, you would have accomplished an ace.

How to Get Better at Receiving Serves

During a match of volleyball, both teams have to receive a big quantity of serves. After all, each rally begins with a serve, and if you cannot defend it, your team will lose a lot of points. Therefore, it is essential for all players to know how to effectively receive a ball.

Keep a Good Stance

Good positioning and stance will give you stability, which is essential when defending a ball. If you are not stable enough, you may fall while attempting to receive. Worse, it may cause the ball to go out of bounds, causing your team to lose the point.

To keep a good stance, maintain a shoulder-width separation between your feet and make sure your body is pointing towards the net. Also, make sure your knees are slightly bent, your chin down, and your focus fixed on the ball at all times.

This will help you have improved stability while defending the serve.

Create an Effective Platform

When receiving the serve, you must bump the ball; consequently, you must build a platform that allows you to contact it properly. This will help you in directing the ball and passing it to a teammate. This platform can be built in a variety of ways.

Wrapping your left hand around your right first is one of the most efficient methods. After doing this, lock your elbows and place them moderately close to each other. Next, relax your arms while keeping them strong and ready.

Your thumbs should be parallel to each other and pointing straight to the floor.  Your wrists and hands should also be side by side; neither should be higher than the other. This way, you will have a firm platform that will help you contact the ball correctly.

Practice the Small Details

When it comes to bumping and receiving, you must be aware of small details that might help you perform better. These elements can differentiate elite players from beginners, so you must master them to progress as a player.

An image of a player serving
  • Make sure to touch the ball between your wrist and elbow. When receiving, it is the only area of your body that should make contact with the ball. If you fail to do this, the ball might get misdirected.
  • Some serves are going to be powerful, so try to always keep your wrist together. This will prevent your platform to break apart.
  • The serve reception should ideally be made with your arms at waist level.
  • Don’t swing your arms when contacting the ball. This could cause it to go out of bounds.
  • To aim, turn your shoulders towards the teammate you wish to pass the ball to.

Related Questions

Here are some related questions about serve receiving in volleyball.

Can You Return a Serve in Volleyball?

Yes, after receiving the serve, you can immediately return the volleyball to the other side of the court. However, this is not recommended as they may take advantage of this and strike back rapidly.

In other words, you would be passively giving them possession of the ball.

Can You Block a Serve?

Players are not permitted to spike or block a serve. They are not allowed to interfere with the service in any manner. This would be a violation of the rules, and you might lose the point. When defending a serve, players can only bump or volley the ball.


Serving in volleyball is one of the most effective weapons for scoring points. As a result, almost every volleyball player must understand and master the serve receive. After all, if you cannot do it, your team will lose a lot of points.

Alfonso Andrade is an avid sportsman, growing up playing soccer and volleyball. He is a coach and sports analyst, studying the game to analyze performance and help create improvement.