Volleyball serving machines can be an extremely effective training tool for teams looking to develop their passing ability.
Becoming excellent at passing is all about getting in repetitions, and serving machines are the best way to ramp up the number of passes you’re able to get in each session.
Unless you’re training with extremely talented and consistent jump servers, serving machines are really the only way to learn how to pass against hard driven top spin serves.
Having operated and trained with serving machines numerous times throughout my career, I know exactly what to look for in a quality serving machine.
Today I’m going to run you through the 4 best volleyball serving machines on the current market, and I’ll explain exactly which option is the best choice for your needs as a volleyball team.
Best Overall Volleyball Serving Machine
The first thing you need to know is that there’s two versions of the Sports Attack volleyball machine: Attack I and Attack II.
Ideal Ball Release Height
The only real difference is the height at which the balls are released from: the Attack II will serve balls from 8.5 feet high (just above the women’s net height), whereas the Attack I has a max release point of 9.25 feet, making it the superior option for men’s volleyball.
This makes these devices perfect for simulating hard spikes so your players can also practice digging.
Extreme Serving Speed
The Attack I will also serve balls slightly faster at up to 80mph as opposed to the 70mph top speed of the Attack II machine.
This is only 4mph slower than the fastest recorded volleyball serve in history, so it’s perfect for beginners right through to professional club teams!
Top Spin & Float Serves
These machines serve both top spin as well as float serves, allowing for a complete serve reception training experience.
Significantly More Functional Than The Competition
As far as serving machines go, you’re really looking for speed/power, and the Attack machines have plenty of it thanks to the duel 4″ throwing wheels.
Other machines like the AirCAT are air powered and produce no where near the same amount of force, making them significantly less effective for passing.
Yeah, you can’t really use the Attack machines for setting, but that’s not what they’re designed for.
They’re designed to serve float and top spin serves all day long, and they do that job extremely well!
Ball Wear Is Minimal
The AirCAT attempts to justify its poor serving speed by saying that the air powered design prevents balls from being damaged by throwing wheels, but it’s really a non-argument.
Yes, your volleyballs will age slightly more quickly when putting them through the Attack serving machine, but the effect is very minor and not something I’d worry about.
Very Competitive Price
Other volleyball serving machines (such as the AirCAT) will cost about $5,000 whereas the Attack machines are significantly more affordable.
Ball Bags Sold Separately
One negative of the Attack machines is that the canvas ball bags you see on the sides of the machine don’t come standard with the machine.
I highly recommend getting a couple because having that quick access to your volleyballs makes operating this machine significantly more efficient.
Quality Customer Service & Warranty
Sports Attack are a super legit company who have been doing sports machines for years. They’re very responsive and helpful when it comes to customer queries and support and are a breeze to work with.
These serving machines are by no means indicative of some of the junk you find on Amazon. They come with a 5 year warranty and the peace of mind knowing you’ll be looked after as a customer.
- Mid to high level volleyball teams/squads. The Attack I serving machine is suitable for all athletes ranging from high school volleyball teams to international programs and professional clubs.
- Men’s and women’s options. The Attack II machine is designed specifically with women’s volleyball in mind whereas the Attack I machine adjusts to both men’s and women’s net heights.
Not Ideal For
- Younger volleyballers. The serving head on the machine is quite heavy and may be difficult to adjust for weaker operators.
Best Budget Volleyball Serving Machine
The Skill Attack serving machine is a much more compact and portable option that is significantly cheaper than the Attack I/II serving machines.
Click on this link to check out my detailed review of the Skill Attack volleyball machine!
Compact, Portable, & Convenient
Compared to the larger machines that have quite a large footprint when it comes to storage, the Skill Attack machine is tiny and can be easily transported to and from the gym.
Power Might Be A Limiting Factor
This serving machine will produce both float and top spin serves, however the power is quite a bit lower than the Attack machines, with a top speed of about 40mph.
This makes this machine ideal for women’s volleyball in particular and it’s a great option for high school and college volleyball teams.
I probably wouldn’t recommend this machine for men’s volleyball programs as the maximum speed is definitely a limiting factor.
Also Functions As A Volleyball Setting Machine
This machine can also be used for spiking practice as it can be easily maneuvered into the correct location on court to act as a setting machine.
Relatively Low Release Height
One drawback of the Skill Attack machine is its release point at just over 5 feet. This isn’t quite high enough to simulate spikes or to be used effectively for digging practice.
That said, it’s still significantly better than some other machines on the market which launch the balls from the floor.
Will Mark Your Volleyballs
This machine will scuff the balls slightly but overall the wear on the balls isn’t too bad. You can try using some sandpaper to file down the belt which some users have reported worked quite well.
From experience I’ve found that the scuff marks don’t actually damage the balls, but they will start to look a little tattered over time.
Overall this is by far the best option on the market for younger athletes and women’s volleyball with many overwhelmingly positive reviews.
- Women’s volleyball and younger athletes. Since the max speed for this machine is 40mph, it’s best used for women’s volleyball or with younger athletes.
- Anyone on a budget. At less than half the cost of the Attack II serving machine, this is the single most affordable volleyball serving machine on the market!
- Portability and footprint. This thing is ultra compact and portable and takes just a couple minutes to set up and pack away. The larger Attack machines really have to be stored in the gym somewhere, whereas the Skill Attack fits perfectly in the trunk of a car.
- Functions well as a setting machine, great for spike practice. This machine works well not just as a serving/passing tool, but also can be set up to produce perfect sets for training spikers.
Not Ideal For
- Men’s volleyball programs. After the age of about 16, the top speed of this serving machine will become a limiting factor. It’s a great option for all junior athletes, but I wouldn’t recommend this machine for men’s high school juniors/seniors or anyone older.
If you’re in the market for a professional grade volleyball serving machine, the Total Attack serves harder than anything else and has the option for adding side spin as well!
Best Professional Volleyball Serving Machine
For elite level men’s volleyball programs, the Total Attack serving machine is about as good as it gets!
Fastest Machine With Side Spin
This particular machine will serve up to 90mph which is faster than any human being has ever served a volleyball!
At the highest level of the game, top spin jump serves often come with a lot of side spin as well, which can make passing extremely challenging.
The Total Attack machine is the only serving machine with three throwing wheels which can accurately replicate side spin jump serves.
Having used one of these myself, I can tell you this Brazilian team wasn’t using it on anywhere near its full speed!
Less Wear On Balls
Since the Total Attack has three throwing wheels, it produces a more uniform contact on the ball which actually reduces the wear and won’t scuff balls up as much as the cheaper machines.
These Things Are Scary!
The Total Attack frame is much larger and more sturdy than all of the other machines as it’s practically a cannon when cranked up to full speed!
I’ve used one of these while training with the national team as we prepared to tour Asia.
Facing high speed serves from these machines can be pretty intimidating at first, and you’ll probably end up with pretty sore forearms after enough reps!
That said, there’s simply no better way to develop your ability to pass against jump servers than by getting reps in with one of these machines.
It is the most expensive Skill Attack machine, but it’s still more affordable than other options on the market like the AirCAT.
Ideal For Elite Men’s Development
This is going to be the best overall option for any men’s volleyball program at or above the college level.
I recommend this serving machine for college teams, international teams, and professional clubs.
- Players looking to practice receiving against extreme speed as well as side spin. This is the only serving machine that can put side spin on the ball to simulate jump serves of the highest caliber. It also serves faster than all of the other serving machines!
- Men’s college level volleyball programs or higher. This is the best serving machine for elite volleyballers who require maximum speed and the most challenging serves to practice receiving against.
Not Ideal For
- Anyone on a budget. This machine definitely isn’t cheap but it’s actually more affordable than other options like the AirCAT.
- Women’s volleyball programs. Although this serving machine will work perfectly for women’s volleyball, it might be slight overkill as the Attack II is probably going to be a more cost effective option.
The AirCAT is an air powered volleyball machine which functions primarily as a setting machine for spike training, but can also produce decent float serves for passing work.
Also Great Volleyball Serving Machine
Also worth looking at is the AirCAT which, instead of using a high speed belt/throwing wheel, uses air to launch the volleyballs.
This Machine Lacks Speed
While you could call this a serving machine, I think this device is better used for setting purposes as it doesn’t produce much power at all compared to the Skill Attack machines.
The lack of speed and top spin makes this pretty ineffective when it comes to passing practice, in my opinion.
It will produce excellent float serves which is awesome, but the speed simply isn’t where I’d like it to be.
The AirCAT Is Best Used For Spike Practice
The best way to use this machine is for spiking practice as it’s quite good at setting the ball.
This is the perfect machine for athletes who want to get more reps in spiking before or after practice by themselves.
Cordless, Portable, & Easy On The Balls
It’s also cordless and battery operated which means you can move it around the court without having to worry about power cords or needing extension leads.
Because the machine is air powered, it doesn’t scuff the volleyballs at all which is definitely a nice benefit of this design.
This Machine Is Very Expensive!
Unfortunately these machines are super expensive at around $5,000, which is considerably more expensive than the other machines discussed earlier.
Unless you’re happy to settle for just float serves, as far as a serving machine goes, this really isn’t it.
The ball release height is also too low to simulate a real spike, making this not a great option for practicing digging against hard driven attacks either.
- Spiking practice. This volleyball machine is better used as a setting machine to practice spiking than it is as a serving machine to practice passing.
- Float serves. The AirCAT is capable of producing decent quality float serves but again power is quite lacking.
- Portability. Being battery powered and cordless makes this machine super easy to move around the court.
Not Ideal For
- Passing practice. This ‘serving machine’ can’t really serve the ball with any degree of power.
- Anyone on a budget. This is the most expensive volleyball serving machine on the market!
Which volleyball serving machine is right for you and your team will depend largely on the age and experience of the players, whether it’s for a men’s or women’s program, and how much cash you want to spend.
For the vast majority of volleyball teams/programs, the Attack I will be the best option as it adjusts to the perfect height for both men’s and women’s volleyball and is powerful enough to produce an effective training stimulus.
If you’re shopping specifically for a women’s volleyball program, you could opt for the Attack II machine if you’d like to save a little cash. It’s slightly smaller and less powerful but still perfect for women’s volleyball.
Also for women’s volleyball programs, as well as younger athletes, the Skill Attack serving machine is going to be less than half the price of the other machines.
It definitely lacks speed/power but is still a really effective option for use with high school and college level athletes.
For elite men’s volleyball programs, the Total Attack serving machine is definitely the best option, although the Attack I is also super effective for anyone not wanting to spend quite so much money.
Volleyball Serving Machine Price Guide
Below are the rough prices for each of the volleyball serving machines I’ve discussed in this article.
Please note that these prices WILL fluctuate over time so it’s always a good idea to click on the links to confirm the actual price when doing research.
The Freddie volleyball serving machines from Dynamic Dimes, which I chose not to mention in this article, range from $4,500 – $4,900.
These serving machines also look excellent, but quite expensive.
Cheapest Volleyball Serving Machine?
By far the most affordable volleyball serving machine is the Skill Attack serving machine which retails for less than half the price of the next cheapest option.
Best Volleyball Setting Machine?
When it comes to volleyball training machines, a number of these devices can be used to automatically set the ball, allowing spikers to get plenty of reps in while alone.
Both the Skill Attack as well as the AirCAT can be used as a volleyball setting machine.
The AirCAT can be used as an automatic setting machine whereas the Skill Attack requires an operator to feed it volleyballs, so I’d say the AirCAT is definitely going to be the superior volleyball setting machine.