When I was starting out in volleyball a few years ago I didn't have a clue as to how to serve a volleyball properly. One would think that it would be something easy to pick up because we all had some similar experience of hitting some object into the air. But as soon as you try to serve a volleyball it becomes very apparent that it's harder than it seems. Here's a quick break down on how to serve a volleyball so that you can look less stupid when playing with more experienced players.
A Beginner's Guide
1) Underhand Serving:
Probably the easiest of the 3 ways to serve mainly because it requires only the hand and arm motions. To start, you hold the volleyball in your non-dominate hand, stoop down (see the video below for the correct posture), create a fist with your dominate hand and then hit the ball with your fist. When you contact the ball with your fist try to hit the center of the ball so that it goes straight when you hit it. If you hit the ball off center then you have a greater chance to direct the ball either too right or left You can also try hitting the ball less hard to have a shorter serve but it also has a greater chance of coming up too short and hitting the net.
2) Standing overhand serve:
This is probably one of the toughest serves in volleyball because it requires a bit of co-ordination from both hands and feet. So you first start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and with your non-dominate foot forward; not to forward that you're off balance but just enough to extend yourself like you're about to start walking. With your placing the ball in your non-dominate hand and toss it up about 18 inches (45 cm) high just above your dominate shoulder. The ball toss is probably the most important piece of the puzzle because if the ball isn't in the right position then you will not hit the ball over the net. I would highly recommend mastering the ball toss if you want a high rate of serving. Once the ball is up the air assume the "archer" stance (the video below will better demonstrate this) and when the ball falls down try your best to the ball with the heel of your hand. While you are hitting the ball with your hand also try to step forward with your dominate foot so that you're also using your body weight to drive the ball forward over the net. If you are still not getting the results you want I would also highly recommend going to a volleyball clinic that shows, teaches and examines your volleyball serve.
Where to hit a volleyball for a Overhand Serve
Overhand volleyball serve
Overhand serve and jump serve pt1
Overhand serve and jump serve pt2
Overhand serve and jump serve pt3
3) Jump serve:
Probably the most difficult of the 3 types of serves (and one I'm still trying to master) because it requires you having mastered the standing overhand serve first otherwise you will keep struggling to hit the ball in the right position. So the first step is to stand about 3 feet behind the service line. Throw the ball up high (how high the ball will depend on weather conditions and the type of serving you like to do) so that you get time to run 2-3 steps, jump and hit the ball (same technique as you would do a standing overhand serve). The videos above explain it the best.
So those are the 3 main types of volleyball serves for you to keep trying and practicing. The standing overhead serve and the jump serve do take sometime to get consistent in but if you keep practicing on a weekly basis you will surely make progress. Enjoy the game!