This is something that's been bothering me for a while.

We play volleyball socially and the team is mixed gender, aged 20 - 50+, mixed level (from complete beginners to two advanced players who join us occasionally).

I've been playing for almost two years now. I would rate myself above beginner level. But because of weight-lifting and martial arts, I have developed strong arms and can deliver the fastest serves in the team (although my spikes are weak due to bad technique, working on that). But I cannot do jump serves.

We have played against some professional players, and we got some easy points from my serves. Again, I'm not trying to show off or anything, I just want to know if I'm doing something wrong.

My question is: is it ethical to serve really hard? Is there unwritten or maybe written rule?

I do serve weaker and higher when I target a beginner in the opposite team to avoid injuries. (but that's something we were debating as well).

  • If you were a highly skilled player playing in a recreation league, and wreaking havoc on the hapless "B" players, then, yes, that would be an issue. If the league is competitive instead of recreational, then, no, no worries, it's competitive. If you are in a rec league, with rec players, and, overall, you have rec skills, but your serve is good, it's fine. If your passing skills are not good, do other teams avoid hitting to you because that's not your strong point? Sep 30, 2016 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


There's not going to be anything really governing 'serving hard' as ethical or not ethical. I played volleyball for 6 years, so I eventually had a pretty good serve as well. In PE class, or at parties (4th of July, etc.) that tend to have a volleyball net up, I would rather do Float Serves instead of just a power serve/ jump serve. It's less cocky looking, and when done right can really mess with your opponent a lot more than a brute force serve -- think of what it looks like when a knuckleball pitcher fools the batter. Not many people in PE classes or Parties have played volleyball a lot, but rarely you can identify your "rival" (someone else who plays volleyball :P), and you and that person can set up the teams so you serve to each other.

Plus, people who don't know how to properly bump the ball will start to get really painful forearms: redness and sore arms - which is kind of mean.

Of course, underhand serve, or overhand bloop serve it to people who:

  • Have never played before, or played very little
  • Younger players

If you are playing against anyone experienced, there is never anything wrong with serving it hard at them, they should expect it.

Long answer, short:

Nothing wrong with serving hard to experienced players, if they are new or young, serve lighter as a good sport.

  • Thanks @Nicholas V. This is what I was looking for. Also to clarify, when I'm serving for a novice player in position 1, 5 or 6, I serve higher and lighter so they have enough time to prepare.
    – user3663
    May 12, 2014 at 14:22
  • @MarkA - No problem. There's not really an absolute answer here, but I knew what you meant in general.
    – Nick
    May 12, 2014 at 14:49

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