Serve Receive Passing


How to Pass – Part I of III – Body PositioningThe importance of the serve receive pass is critical. How consistently the serve is passed can greatly affect all other mental and physical aspects of your own and your partners performance.

Although the ball is contacted at the wrist area of both arms – the foundation of the pass is done with foot movement, body control and a disciplined and focused mind and minimal or no arm movement.


If you can control your feet, body and balance, you can control the ball.



The serve receive pass is considered by many to be the most important skill in Beach Volleyball.

No matter where the serve goes, (even if it is coming straight to you) you must move your feet as much as possible so you can get your body and balance in the best possible position to make contact with the ball. The more you move your feet and the less you move your arms, the better you will pass the ball / control the ball.


No matter how you put your hands together to create flat even arms for the ball to contact, your hands must be:

  • Relaxed / not tightly griping each other, and
  • Your thumbs pointed downwards toward the sand.

Pointing your thumbs to the ground helps keep your entire arm surface flat / keep your elbows from bending.

Joao Maciel (BRZ) keeping his arm flat with relaxed hands while passing the Mikasa


When receiving a fast moving serve or a serve with a low trajectory, your arms need to be pointed on an angle toward the sand – this means your arms will be behind the ball. This allows the ball to move not only upwards but also forward.

When receiving a serve that is going to land close to the net, your arms need to be almost parallel to the sand – this means your arms will be completely under the ball. This allows the ball to move up in the air but not forward.


The only arm movement needed when passing a serve is when passing a serve that is moving very fast.

If you have relaxed hands and move your arms slightly backwards it will help slow the ball down and keep the ball from exploding off your arms in many different directions.


The less you move your arms and the more you control your body, the better the pass will be.


The ball will move in the direction that your body is balanced in.

Juliana (BRA) staying balanced and behind the ball during serve receive


The position to start the serve receive pass is basically in the center of your half of the court and approximately 1.5 – 2 m / 5 - 6.5’ from the back line.

Depending on the many different variables you can adjust the start position approximately a half step forward, backwards, and/or to either side.


The body position you want is the following: weight is on the balls of your feet; knees are bent and feet are about shoulder width apart; shoulders are back and lined up behind your knees so you are not leaning too far forward; arms are outstretched in front of you and hands are at about waist level, palms up – but are not together.


The lower you can keep your body throughout the passing motion, the better. If at all possible you want to have your butt lower than the level of where the ball contacts your arms

Targets & Communication


The serve receiver passes the ball within 1 - 2 m / 3 – 6’ of the area they want to attack the ball from – not to the setter.How to Pass - Part II of III – Targets & Communication

→ To attack the ball from near the antenna, pass the ball within 2 meters of the antenna and within 1 – 3 m / 3 – 10’ from the net.

→ To attack the ball in the middle of the court, pass the pass within 2 m of the middle of the court and within 2 m / 6’ from the net.

If you don’t consistently pass the ball within 2 meters of where you want to attack the ball from and within 1 – 3 m / 3 – 10’ from the net it makes it extremely difficult to:


When having problems passing the ball, forget about attempting to pass the ball up towards the net, just focus on getting the ball up in the air and on your half of the court.

  • Get a consistent set,
  • See the court and ball at the same time
  • Have an explosive approach and attack swing.


Communication with your partner before and during the serve is critical to having good team work.

The first part of the communication is to decide which player will pass the ball. In most cases the player that decides who will pass the serve is the player who is on the angle from the server / not directly across from the server.

If the server is serving from the middle of the court, the player who decides will be based on weather conditions and the server’s tendencies.
In many cases, the player who decides who will receive the serve will also have the responsibility of passing serves that are traveling down the middle of the court.

May-Treanor (USA) watching the ball into her arms

The communication sounds like this:

One of the partners will say something similar to this: “my center, my call” or “my middle, my call”.
If the serve is going to the player that called out “my center, my call” or down the center of the court, they will loudly say “Mine, mine, mine”.

Their partner will be calling out:
→ “good, good, good” if they think the serve is in bounds;
→ “out, out, out” if they think the serve is out of bounds;
→ “I don’t know” if they can’t tell if the ball will land in or out.

If the serve is going to the player who didn’t call center and the ball; FIRST the player who is calling center and middle will loudly say “Yours, yours, yours”; the partner that the ball is going to will then call out “mine, mine, mine”.

Then the player who is calling center and the ball will also call out “good, good, good” if they think the serve is in bounds, “out, out, out” if they think the serve is out of bounds, or “I don’t know” if they can’t tell if the ball will land in or out.

Clear simple communication before and during every serve will greatly minimize unforced serve receive errors.



How to Pass - Part III of III - Drills & Key PointsPracticing how to pass the serve starts with: moving your feet, staying on the balls of your feet, keeping your butt as low as possible, getting your body balanced, keeping your arms still, dropping your chin and watching the bottom of the ball contact the wrist area of your still, flat arms, breathing out as the ball makes contact with your arms, relaxing your body and face, keeping your arms still and shifting your weight and balance in the exact direction you want the ball to go in.

Jennifer Kessy of the United States dives to pass a short serve

This is the foundation of serve receive – develop the discipline of keeping your arms still and getting your body in the best possible position.


A calm and focused mind is a key component to a consistent pass.


Do everything mentioned in the drill called “Stay Still” – and this time as the ball is making contact with your arms, stand up. Shift your balance and weight / move your body in the exact direction you want the pass to go in. Make sure you keep your arms from swinging at the ball.


Without a consistent pass, it is very difficult to win a game.


Stefan Gunnarsson (SWE) staying low during the serve receive pass
Jonas Reckermann (GER) getting under a short serve
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