Volleyball Server Mental Mistakes
Keys to Overcoming Mind Errors

Volleyball server types and 5 keys to executing tough, aggressive serves. 

Characteristics of Great Servers

Servers that have the most confidence are the ones that serve tough and aggressive. Great volleyball servers are very proficient at blocking out distractions and focusing on each serve. The best servers tend to relentlessly practice serving. They truly believe that every ball they serve will go where they intend to put it. 

On the other hand, a server that is considered "streaky" is likely not completely committed physically and mentally to improving their serve. 

This lack of overall commitment comes in many forms, mainly due to the belief that consistently executing tough serves isn't that important. Many players just go through the motions and think that the tough aggressive serve will be there for them without ever practicing. 

To be a tough volleyball server, you should always focus on serving quality, making each serve repetition important while also focusing on the mental side of serving. 

Vollleyball Server

Five Mental Keys to Great Serving

  • Confidence 
    You must believe in yourself and expect to be successful. Players need to understand that serving is a unique skill in volleyball. The serve is unique in that it's the only skill you have complete control over executing.

  • Trust 
    You must trust yourself and believe in your ability to execute serving skills.
  • Focus 
    You must focus on the important components of serving. Many players take serving for granted. 

    Serving needs to be seen as an opportunity to give your team an advantage to win a point. For example, if you rip off a tough serve that gets your team a free ball in return, your team now has an opportunity to score a point. With each serve, always focus on executing a strategy. Even if you don't think your strategy is that great, you can still intimidate your opponent just by executing the strategy, making it apparent you succeeded in doing what you were trying to do.
  • Commitment 
    Make a commitment to improving your serving skills. Even if you are already a great volleyball server, you can always improve your serve.
  • Playing one serve at a time 
    Always be in the present moment and focused on executing your serve. After each serve, for just a split-second you should be aware of whether or not you executed your serve the way you intended. If you hit the serve the way you meant to, then remember how that felt and do it again next time. If you didn't hit the serve correct, then make an adjustment the next time you serve.

Players that make mental serving errors usually lack one or more of these mental traits. 

Practice mastering these mental traits and become a smooth, effortless, automatic volleyball server. 

7 Common Mindset Mistakes

1. Heave and Hope 
This kind of server is just hoping the ball goes where it should. These volleyball servers lack confidence in their ability to hit serves. They also lack trust in their preparation because they haven't mastered focused preparation. 

To change this mindset, this type of server needs to do old-fashioned hard work and repetition, realizing they are the only one that can change their serving habits. 

It's important for this type of server to convince themselves that they can put the serve anywhere they want in any situation. One way to accomplish this goal is with affirmations. Saying things like, "I can serve tough in any situation", along with seeing positive images of tough serves will help change their mindset and gain confidence. Visualizing successful serves during a preserve routine can also help. 

2. Do or Die 
The do or die volleyball server is one that focuses too much on the outcome and becomes distracted resulting in a missed serve. Most of the pressure servers feel is self-imposed. Do or die servers typically put themselves under more pressure to keep the score closer to win the game. This type of server may also feel pressure to execute a good serve to keep from being pulled from the game. 

This increased pressure due to the expected outcome creates more stress. These types of volleyball servers need to focus more on the process and less on the outcome. This can be accomplished by focusing on serving cues, which focus on one or two general aspects of the serve. 

3. The Fader 
This type of server tends to get distracted easily, either by external or internal distractions.

External distractions include crowd noise, visual distractions, or the particular game situation. 

Internal distractions include feeling the pressure, thinking about the importance of the serve, and remembering how they served the previous time.

A volleyball server that focuses on too many cues are setting themselves up for a missed serve due to jamming. Jamming is when an athlete fails to focus on the pertinent information necessary for success. 

Servers that fade need to work on being aware of what they are focusing on prior to and during the serve. Once they are aware of what they are focusing on, the next step is to focus only on the most relevant cues.

4. The Flexed Server 
This type of server gets tense and tightens up due to fear of missing their serve. 

Fear of failure can lead to excessive tension in the shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms, causing a normally smooth swing to become a rigid, stiff motion. 

A preserve routine can help this type of volleyball server relax and enhance mental and physical readiness prior to serving. 

5. Hot and Cold 
A server is consider "hot" if they get on a streak, hitting aces and tough serves. If their game is off, this type of server will carry this frustration with themselves, resulting in "cold" serving. 

This type of volleyball server needs to learn to maintain a consistent level of serving confidence. 

Preserve routines, refocused routines after missed serves, positive imagery, and affirmations can help this type of server. 

6. Mechanical 
Mechanical servers allow their left brain to dominate too much of their attention on the specific mechanics of serving. 

Mechanical volleyball servers make the mistake of thinking about serving technique right before execution that only creates a distraction. 

This type of server will often change their preserve routine and serving action due to a lack of confidence in their mechanics. 

Establishing a preserve routine and consistent serving stroke is critical to becoming less mechanical. The use of specific cues isn't recommended because they will internally distract the server.

7. The Counter 
This type of server makes the mistake of counting missed serves which only keeps them down and focused on making mistakes. 

This just puts more pressure on them and increases anxiety to hit the next serve. Volleyball servers that can tell you exactly how many serves they've missed are outcome-focused and are guilty of being "counters". 

To make yourself stop counting serves, become more process-focused. Focus on each serve one at a time, using one or two general serving cues. 

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