Pickleball Kitchen Rules: What You Need to Know

Pickleball is a fun sport with a weird name – and some equally strange rules… the kitchen, or “Non-Volley Zone,” being one of the most important!

Let’s dive into the world of pickleball kitchen rules with this comprehensive guide, and learn how to navigate the Kitchen like a pro while uncovering advanced techniques and dispelling common misconceptions. Are you ready to elevate your pickleball game? Let’s go!

Mastering the Non-Volley Zone (aka “The Kitchen”)

A pickleball player hitting a shot from the non-volley zone

Pickleball players often find themselves puzzled by the non-volley zone, also known as the “Kitchen.” Understanding this unique area is essential to avoiding faults and improving your game strategy. So, what exactly is the Kitchen, and why does it exist?

Let’s dive deep into the world of pickleball kitchen rules explained, and find out why this seemingly simple area on the pickleball court can be a game-changer.

Defining the Kitchen

The Kitchen is a 7ft by 20ft area on both sides of the net, where players cannot volley the ball before it bounces. This peculiar area, also known as the kitchen zone, is marked by the non-volley line, also known as the Kitchen line. The term “Kitchen” might have originated from shuffleboard or the saying “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”. Interestingly, the term “not the space” is sometimes used to describe areas outside the kitchen zone, including the opponents court.

But why do we have this rule? What is its purpose? Let’s explore the rationale behind the Kitchen and its restrictions.

Purpose of the Kitchen

The Kitchen’s primary purpose is to encourage strategic play and prevent players from dominating the game with aggressive net play. By disallowing volleys within the Kitchen, players are forced to think more tactically and rely on ground strokes, where the ball must bounce before being hit back over the net.

This prevents tall or skilled players from having an unfair advantage by aggressively hitting volleys directly over the net, landing on the opponent’s court without bouncing. In essence, the Kitchen levels the playing field and adds a layer of strategy to the game.

Essential Pickleball Kitchen Rules

A pickleball player hitting a shot from the kitchen line

To master the art of playing in and around the kitchen, it’s vital to learn the essential pickleball kitchen rules. These rules include no volleys in the Kitchen, restrictions on touching the Kitchen line, and restrictions on body and equipment contact with the Kitchen.

By understanding these rules, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the Kitchen and avoid faults during gameplay.

No Volleys in the Kitchen

One of the most critical rules to remember is that players cannot hit a volley shot while standing in the Kitchen or touching the Kitchen line. A volley is a shot hit out of the air without bouncing, and attempting to do so within the Kitchen area results in a fault.

This rule encourages players to be more mindful of their positioning and strategy when playing near the net.

Kitchen Line Restrictions

The non-volley zone line is also referred to as the Kitchen line. It is an intrinsic part of the Kitchen area. As such, players cannot hit a volley while touching the Kitchen line. This restriction extends not only to the player’s feet, but also to any body part or equipment that may come into contact with the Kitchen line during a volley.

Violating this rule results in a fault, emphasizing the importance of spatial awareness during gameplay.

Body and Equipment Constraints

Another essential aspect of pickleball kitchen rules is the constraints on body and equipment contact with the Kitchen. Players and their equipment are not allowed to touch the Kitchen area while volleying, whether during the swing or the follow-through. This rule further enforces the strategic use of the Kitchen and helps maintain a balanced playing field for all participants.

The Kitchen is a critical part of the game and should be respected by all players. It is.

Navigating the Kitchen: Common Scenarios

A pickleball player entering and exiting the kitchen

Now that you’re familiar with the basic rules and restrictions surrounding the Kitchen, let’s explore some common scenarios that may arise during gameplay. By understanding these situations, you’ll be better prepared to handle them as they occur, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable pickleball experience.

Entering and Exiting the Kitchen

Players are allowed to enter and exit the Kitchen freely during gameplay, as long as they are not violating any rules while doing so. However, it’s essential for players to be aware of their position relative to the Kitchen line, especially when attempting to hit a volley.

Both feet must be outside the non-volley zone before volleying the ball again, or a fault will be called. Maintaining this awareness is crucial to avoiding faults and maintaining a strategic advantage, especially when executing a ground stroke.

Ball Bouncing in the Kitchen

While volleying is prohibited within the Kitchen, players are allowed to hit the ball after it has bounced in the Kitchen area. In fact, players can even stand in the Kitchen while hitting the ball after it bounces, allowing for more strategic play and positioning near the net when the ball hits the ground.

This flexibility grants players the opportunity to utilize the Kitchen to their advantage in a perfectly legal way, so long as they remain mindful of the rules surrounding volleys.

Serving and the Kitchen

Serving in pickleball comes with its own set of rules regarding the kitchen. The served ball must not touch any part of the Kitchen line. It must clear it fully to be considered a valid service. This means that the ball cannot touch the Kitchen line or land within the Kitchen area during a serve. To ensure a proper serve, players should be mindful of the pickleball court lines, including the Kitchen line.

By adhering to this rule, players ensure a fair and balanced start to each point in the game.

Advanced Techniques Involving the Kitchen

A pickleball player dinking a shot from the kitchen

With a firm grasp on the basic Kitchen rules and common scenarios, it’s time to explore advanced techniques that involve the Kitchen. Two such techniques are dinking and the Ernie shot, which can help players gain a strategic advantage during gameplay.

By mastering these techniques, you’ll be better equipped to outwit and outmaneuver your opponents on the court.

The Art of Dinking

Dinking is a soft shot played near the Kitchen line, keeping the ball close to the net and creating scoring opportunities. This technique involves hitting a gentle lob over the net, either while standing in the Kitchen (if the ball has bounced) or from behind the line.

Dinking can be a powerful tool in a player’s arsenal, forcing opponents to move closer to the net and opening up the court for potential winning shots.

The Erne Shot

An image showing the proper placement of pickleball players according to pickleball kitchen rules during the Ernie Shot.

The Erne shot is a legal move where a player quickly shifts outside the sideline to volley the ball as it comes into the Kitchen. Named after its popularizer, Erne Perry, the Erne shot is an aggressive move that can catch opponents off guard and create scoring opportunities.

However, keep in mind that this technique can be risky, as a poorly executed Erne shot carries the risk of leaving the player vulnerable to a return shot. Practice and precision are key to mastering the Erne shot.

Common Misconceptions About the Kitchen

A pickleball player jumping over the kitchen

Despite the wealth of information available about pickleball kitchen rules, misconceptions still abound. Two common misunderstandings involve momentum and jumping over the kitchen.

By addressing these misconceptions, you’ll be better equipped to play by the rules and enjoy a fair and balanced game.

Momentum and the Kitchen

Momentum from a volley cannot carry a player into the Kitchen, even after the ball bounces twice. Many players mistakenly believe that their momentum can take them into the Kitchen after the ball has bounced twice, but this is not the case.

To avoid faults, players should remain mindful of their momentum and positioning during gameplay.

Jumping Over the Kitchen

Another common misconception is that jumping over the kitchen is prohibited. Jumping over the Kitchen is allowed, but not while hitting a volley. Players who attempt to jump over the Kitchen while hitting a volley will be penalized with a fault.

Understanding this rule will help you avoid unnecessary faults and keep the game moving smoothly.


In conclusion, mastering the art of playing in and around the pickleball kitchen is crucial for both beginners and seasoned players alike. By understanding the rules, restrictions, and common scenarios that involve the Kitchen, you’ll be better prepared to navigate this unique area of the court and elevate your game. With advanced techniques like dinking and the Ernie shot at your disposal, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a formidable pickleball player. So get out there, embrace the heat of the Kitchen, and enjoy the strategic challenge that pickleball has to offer!

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you not do in the kitchen in pickleball?

You cannot volley or serve from the kitchen in pickleball, as both are illegal moves.

Can you be in the kitchen before the ball bounces?

You can be in the kitchen anytime, even before the ball bounces. However, if you have any part of your body on the line and hit the ball before it bounces, it’s a fault.

How does a game of pickleball begin?

Pickleball starts with an underhand serve from outside the boundary, then the ball must bounce once on each side. Players cannot hit the ball out of the air while in the non-volley zone or “kitchen.”

Are players allowed to jump over the Kitchen?

Yes, players are allowed to jump over the Kitchen, as long as they’re not hitting a volley at the same time.

What is dinking, and how does it benefit a player?

Dinking is an effective shot played near the net, which can create scoring opportunities, benefiting a player by keeping the opponent guessing.

About The Author

Scroll to Top