Pickleball Basics: What Is the Kitchen in Pickleball?


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Pickleball is a popular sport, despite its peculiar name. The terminology used in this game is also somewhat unique, such as falafel, dink shot, and volley llama. There are terms as well that are common words, such as “the kitchen,” which you wouldn’t usually think of concerning a sport. You are probably thinking, “What is the kitchen in pickleball?” The answer to that question will help when you play pickleball and hopefully keep you out of a “pickle.”

What Is the Kitchen in Pickleball?

The short answer is the kitchen is part of the pickleball court. The kitchen, formally known as the non-volley zone, includes the area 7 feet on either side of the net, extending across the width of the court. When you start playing pickleball, understanding the lines that define the kitchen and the rules for that section is important.

What Are the Kitchen Rules?

Before discussing the rules, you must know the definition of volley. A volley is when the ball comes over the net and you return it without the ball bouncing.

There are 11 non-volley zone rules in chapter 9 of the International Federation of Pickleball Official Rulebook.

Not Allowed in the Kitchen

While you are in the kitchen, you cannot volley the ball. If you volley the ball and land in the kitchen afterward, that is not allowed, either. A fault is called if anything you carry or wear drops into or touches the non-volley zone during or after the volley. You will also be at fault if your partner is standing in the kitchen and you accidentally collide or if the ball hits you before it bounces.

Allowed in the Kitchen

Now that you know the answer to what is the kitchen in pickleball and what is not allowed in the kitchen, here are things that are allowed.

If your paddle crosses into the kitchen when you hit a volley, it is acceptable as long as you or your paddle are not touching the kitchen. The non-volley zone does not include the air above, just the ground.

While it is not illegal to stand in the kitchen during play, the best practice is to stand outside the non-volley zone. If you are in the kitchen, a fault will be called if you jump up, hit the ball, and then land outside the non-volley zone.

If the ball bounces once when you are in the kitchen, it is perfectly acceptable to hit the ball. If you are in the non-volley zone but want to volley the ball, you must first go entirely out of the kitchen and have both feet firmly on the ground before hitting the ball.

Now That You Know What Is the Kitchen in Pickleball, What’s Next?

Now it’s time to get out there and play pickleball! Grab a friend or three to play a singles or doubles game and share the answer to “What is the kitchen in pickleball?” Remember to follow the rules of the kitchen when it comes to volleys! For more tips on playing pickleball, check out Pickleball Portal.

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