The sidelines, centerlines, and baselines of a pickleball court are divided into three main parts: the left service area, the proper service area, and the non-volley zone (also called the kitchen.) The non-volley zone is one of the key areas of a pickleball court; hence, there are specific pickleball kitchen rules to guide players.
What Is The Non-Volley Zone?
The non-volley zone —measuring 7 feet by 20 feet —is a part of the court that is located between the net and the non-volley line. According to established pickleball kitchen rules, volleying in the non-volley zone is considered a fault.
There are two important terms you should know in order to understand the pickleball kitchen rules:
Volley: Occurs when a player hits the ball out of the air before it bounces. The ball must bounce twice before a volley can be hit; first from the serve and then from the return of the serve.
Groundstroke: The opposite of a volley. This means hitting the pickleball after it has bounced. Groundstrokes can be hit from the non-volley zone.
Is The Kitchen and Non-Volley Zone The Same?
The term kitchen can be quite confusing for beginners and non-players. Simply put, the kitchen refers to the non-volley zone in pickleball.
The pickleball kitchen rules are guidelines to ensure a player doesn't make faults when they hit the ball. As a beginner, following the rules may be tricky at first, especially when you try to hit a volley. But, the more you play and learn about faults, the easier it gets to prevent them. As with every sport, pickleball is much more enjoyable if the rules are followed.
So whether you're a beginner or an experienced player, don't get caught standing in the kitchen!
What Are The Pickleball Kitchen Rules?
No Volley Rule
This is the simplest pickleball kitchen rule. The non-volley zone rules were made for two major reasons: preventing injuries and ensuring rallies last longer. The non-volley rule states that no ball can be hit out of thin air, meaning one must wait until the ball has bounced. It's an important rule to follow, as breaking it will result in the player committing a fault. A player is only allowed to volley the ball once it has past the kitchen line.
No Contact Rule
No part of the player’s body can touch the non-volley line or it is considered a fault. This rule also applies to objects the player is holding, like their paddle. If an object, shoes, or any part of the player is touching the non-volley zone, a point is awarded to the opponent.
Before and after hitting a volley, make sure both feet are firmly placed on the playing surface outside the non-volley line, which is part of the non-volley zone. You don’t want the momentum from the volley propelling you to step into the kitchen.
The Entry Rule
The only time a player is prohibited from entering the kitchen is when a volley is being hit — volleys cannot be hit from the kitchen. However, hitting groundstrokes or lob shots from the kitchen isn't against the pickleball kitchen rules.
If a ball bounces into the kitchen on a short dink, you can enter the kitchen to play it. Although you can stand in the kitchen for as long as you need, you should eventually get behind the kitchen line so your opponent won't take advantage of your position with a volley.
Doubles Match Rules
In a doubles game, your partner can stay in the kitchen provided they don't come in contact with you or hit a volley. Your partner can also physically prevent you from crossing the non-volley line when you’re near the non-volley zone.
Returning Bounce Shots
A player is only allowed to hit the ball after it has bounced on their side of the court. Some pickleball players are experts at drawing their opponents close to the net by delivering low-dink shots into the non-volley zone, in an attempt to force a mistake.
Why Is It Called The Kitchen In Pickleball?
Pickleball is derived from several sports. The term 'kitchen' in pickleball is a borrowed term from shuffleboard. In shuffleboard, landing in the kitchen results in the deduction of 10 points from the offending player. Similarly, landing in the kitchen is against the rules in pickleball.
Though the rules between the two games aren't necessarily the same, but they are similar in that the kitchen is off-limits.
Learning all of the pickleball rules about the kitchen line can be tough at first. The most important thing to remember is that the act of volleying is strictly prohibited in the non-volley zone and can only be performed outside the kitchen. As with anything, it'll take a little bit of practice but will get easier with time.