Master The Kitchen Rule In Pickleball To Win More Games

Kitchen Rule In Pickleball

Are you just getting into pickleball, need a refresher, or just wondering about the pickleball kitchen rule? If you’re not using the non-volley zone rules to your advantage, you’re missing out! These tips will help you dominate the court.

We will break it down even further below. Let’s jump in!

To understand the kitchen rule, you must know what a volley is. A volley is any ball hit out of the air without first bouncing.

The pickleball kitchen rule is as follows: all volleys must be hit outside the boundaries of the kitchen. Thus, players cannot step into the kitchen or touch the line when volleying; they must wait for the ball to bounce before hitting it.

Learn everything you need to know about the kitchen rules and start winning more games today.

  • The pickleball court has two main parts: The Kitchen (or non-volley zone) and the area that runs to the backline. The kitchen is in the 7ft zone on either side of the net. 
  • Don’t volley from here, meaning the ball has to hit the ground before you hit it back over the net if you are standing in or touching the kitchen line.
  • Let the ball bounce if your momentum takes you into the kitchen or touches the kitchen line before dinking it back over the net.
  • Your clothing and pickleball gear count; if your glasses, paddle, or other equipment fall into the zone when volleying, that’s a fault.

Why Do People Call It The Kitchen?

While there is plenty of speculation, people have yet to determine the exact reason for the kitchen name. The consensus and assumption are that the three fathers borrowed the name from shuffleboard.

The kitchen is the ‘10-off area’ with strict rules when playing shuffleboard. The rules state that when you land in this space or zone, it deducts ten from your total points.

Ever wonder how many calories you burn playing pickleball? 

Check out our latest post: How to calculate pickleball calories burned.

What's The Pickleball Kitchen Rule

What Is The Kitchen Rule In Pickleball

The pickleball kitchen is an important and fun aspect of the sport! You’ve most likely heard people shouting from other courts’ KITCHEN! 

The pickleball kitchen is the area within seven feet of the net on either side, marked by the kitchen line. One of the kitchen rules is that players cannot hit the ball while standing within the non-volley zone or on the kitchen line. This rule helps to make pickleball a more strategic and balanced game, as it prevents players from abusing their close proximity to the net and overwhelming their opponents through rapid volleys. 

In pickleball, players must wait until the ball has bounced on their side of the court before entering the kitchen to hit it, adding an additional challenge and further leveling the playing field.

Read our full post on all the line rules!

Kitchen Rule - No volleying

No volleying is the most straightforward kitchen rule when enjoying your game. The rule states that you can’t hit any balls out of the air while standing in the non-volley zone. Remember, the must ball bounces before you strike it. How fun would it be to stand in the kitchen and smash the ball into your opponent’s side? Not very! The pickleball kitchen rule allows for more extended and more exciting gameplay.

Kitchen Rule - Over-the-line rules

Non-volley zone has various parts, where the kitchen line is one of the critical parts. With the line being an essential part, you can’t touch or step the line while having your volley. Rules state that this is a fault for any player to touch any sections of this line when volleying. 

Besides the rules restricting you from touching or stepping on the lines, your clothes can’t cross the line. Even after striking the ball, the volley’s momentum or follow-through shouldn’t push or cause you to cross or step the line. 

The rule further outlines that you mustn’t carry momentum into the kitchen despite having a dead ball on your opponent’s side. There is no time limit on momentum taking you into the non-volley zone, and you must fully regain “bodily control” and reset before returning to the kitchen.

When to Get in the Kitchen

Despite the strict regulations, you can enter this area anytime. Furthermore, you’re free to hit your groundstrokes from the non-volley zone. 

However, the game outlines additional regulations for moving out of the non-volley area to hit the volley. It would help if you established your feet outside the area before you strike the ball from the air. Remember that you can only hit a volley after two bounces, where one comes from the serving and the other from the return serve.

However, you may wonder what happens if the pickleball bounces in the zone in a short dink. The rules allow you to enter the kitchen zone to play the ball. Remember, these rules apply only for shots hit in the air or volleys. 

It’ll be very important to avoid staying in this area, as your opponent could take advantage with a volley. 

(Have a look at what to wear when playing pickleball guide)

Pickleball drills for beginners

Using The Kitchen To Your Advantage



1. Use cross-court dinking into the kitchen

According to the Pickleball Kitchen Rules, players cannot volley or slam within this area, providing an opportunity to surprise your opponent with a cross-court dink shot. By hitting the ball softly and cross-court, you force your opponent to move out of their comfort zone and into the non-volley zone. This not only throws off their rhythm but also puts them at risk for a fault, giving you an advantage in the game.

While easier said than done, try and place a soft touch cross-court shot on the ball. You can practice these shots against a wall to perfect your dink. Read our pickleball drills you can do at home post next!

2. Use depth in the kitchen 

To create depth in your shots while playing in the kitchen, try alternating between deep and short shots. This will keep your opponent on their toes and may create a pop-up opportunity for a smash over the net. Remember, utilizing depth in your shots can give you a strategic advantage on the pickleball court! So next time you’re playing in the kitchen, mix it up and start practicing those deep shots.

3. Catch your opponent in the kitchen 

Pickleball is a fast-paced, strategic game; the kitchen can be a prime spot for scoring points. But how do you catch your opponent off guard in this high-pressure area? 

Pay attention to where the pickleball court lines are because they play a factor. For example, if your opponent is just inches away from the non-volley zone line, try hitting the ball just over the net – they may not be able to volley it back without stepping into the kitchen and earning a fault. And finally, remember about psychology – if you keep returning shots effectively while in the kitchen, they might start feeling pressured and make mistakes.

(Do you know the difference between indoor and outdoor pickleballs? Read our post now)

Final Thoughts

Pickleball is a great game for all ages and skill levels. You can use the kitchen if you know the rules and how to properly use this area of the court. 

Use the tips in this article to help you master the game of pickleball! Now that you know the pickleball kitchen rules to be sure to help other players on the court when they are confused.

Do you have other tips on using the kitchen in pickleball? Please share them with us in the comments below!

What is your pickleball player rating? Find out how the rating system works in our dedicated post.

Read More: 6 of the best paddles for spin.

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