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Mastering the Kitchen: A Comprehensive Guide to the Non-Volley Zone in Pickleball

March 20, 2024


As the popularity of pickleball continues to surge, players from beginners to seasoned pros are diving deep into the nuances of the game. One term that often pops up in pickleball conversations is the "kitchen". But what exactly is the kitchen in pickleball? This post is your definitive guide to understanding, navigating, and mastering the kitchen in pickleball.

What is the Kitchen in Pickleball?

The "kitchen" is an informal term in pickleball for the non-volley zone. This is a seven-foot area on both sides of the net where volleying, or hitting the ball before it bounces, is strictly prohibited. This rule is designed to prevent players from executing smashes from a position within the zone. You'll often hear pickleball players refer to the act of stepping into the kitchen, which is a light-hearted way of saying a player stepped into the non-volley zone at an inopportune time​1​.

Navigating the Kitchen

While the kitchen presents a unique challenge for players, it's not an area to be feared. In fact, a player may legally be in the kitchen at any time other than when volleying a ball. However, it's crucial to know that it is considered a fault if, while volleying a ball, the player steps on the non-volley zone, including the line. It's also a fault if a player's momentum after volleying carries them into the non-volley zone, even if the ball is declared dead before this happens. So, while the kitchen can be entered, it requires careful footwork and a strategic approach​1​.

Mastering the Kitchen

Mastering the kitchen in pickleball is a combination of strategic positioning, controlled volleying, and disciplined footwork. By understanding the specific rules associated with the kitchen, players can use this zone to their advantage and create strategic plays to outmaneuver their opponents.


Understanding the kitchen or non-volley zone in pickleball is key to improving your game and becoming a more strategic player. So, the next time you step onto the pickleball court, remember the rules of the kitchen, and use them to your advantage. After all, in pickleball, the kitchen isn't just for cooking—it's for cooking up a winning strategy!

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