Upper Limb Biomechanics During the Volleyball Serve and Spike

Academic Article


  • Background: The shoulder is the third-most commonly injured body part in volleyball, with the majority of shoulder problems resulting from chronic overuse. Hypothesis: Significant kinetic differences exist among specific types of volleyball serves and spikes. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: Fourteen healthy female collegiate volleyball players performed 5 successful trials of 4 skills: 2 directional spikes, an off-speed roll shot, and the float serve. Volunteers who were competent in jump serves (n, 5) performed 5 trials of that skill. A 240-Hz 3-dimensional automatic digitizing system captured each trial. Multivariate analysis of variance and post hoc paired t tests were used to compare kinetic parameters for the shoulder and elbow across all the skills (except the jump serve). A similar statistical analysis was performed for upper extremity kinematics. Results: Forces, torques, and angular velocities at the shoulder and elbow were lowest for the roll shot and second-lowest for the float serve. No differences were detected between the cross-body and straight-ahead spikes. Although there was an insufficient number of participants to statistically analyze the jump serve, the data for it appear similar to those of the crossbody and straight-ahead spikes. Shoulder abduction at the instant of ball contact was approximately 130° for all skills, which is substantially greater than that previously reported for female athletes performing tennis serves or baseball pitches. Conclusion: Because shoulder kinetics were greatest during spiking, the volleyball player with symptoms of shoulder overuse may wish to reduce the number of repetitions performed during practice. Limiting the number of jump serves may also reduce the athlete's risk of overuse-related shoulder dysfunction. Clinical Relevance: Volleyball-specific overhead skills, such as the spike and serve, produce considerable upper extremity force and torque, which may contribute to the risk of shoulder injury. © 2009 The Author(s).
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Reeser JC; Fleisig GS; Bolt B; Ruan M
  • Start Page

  • 368
  • End Page

  • 374
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 5