The Kitchen is the Non-Volley Zone of the Pickleball Court
The kitchen is the most important area of the pickleball court. It is the 7-foot non-volley zone on each side of the net. Players cannot volley the ball while standing inside the kitchen.
Why is it Called the Kitchen?
The kitchen gets its name because it looks like a kitchen in the middle of the court. The area is boxed in by lines on all sides just like a kitchen in a house.
What are the Rules of the Kitchen in Pickleball?
The main rule is players cannot volley the ball while any part of their body is touching the kitchen area. This includes:
- Standing with both feet in the kitchen
- Having one foot in and one foot out
- Reaching your arm or racket over the line
- Move through the kitchen if they aren’t volleying
- Stand in the kitchen if they let the ball bounce first
- Stand outside the kitchen and volley the ball
Why is the Kitchen Important in Pickleball?
The kitchen is very important for two main reasons:
- It prevents players from volleying right at the net. Without the kitchen, players could stand at the net and smash volley shots that are impossible to return. This would make the game unfair.
- It allows players time to get to the net. On deep shots, players need time to run up to the net. The kitchen gives them this time so both teams can volley back and forth.
Overall, the kitchen makes sure the game flows smoothly and everyone has a chance to make plays.
- What Are the Key Rules for “Positioning” in Pickleball?
- Does Pickleball Require Running?
- Can You Play Pickleball After A Hip Replacement?
The Kitchen Area and Lines on a Pickleball Court
The kitchen is the 7-foot non-volley zone on each side of the net. It has clear boundaries marked by lines on the court.
The Kitchen Line
The main line of the kitchen is called the kitchen line or non-volley zone line. This line runs parallel to the net, 7 feet back from each side.
The kitchen line marks the front edge of the non-volley zone. Players cannot volley the ball while touching any part of this line.
The sidelines form the sides of the kitchen area. Lines extend from the net posts to the back boundaries of the court.
The sidelines are out of bounds. Players cannot volley the ball while touching any part of the sidelines.
The Center Line
The center line runs down the middle of the court from net to back line. It splits the kitchen into two 7-foot zones on either side.
Players cannot cross the center line or volley the ball while stepping on the line. This would put them illegally inside the opponent’s kitchen.
The Back Court Lines
The back end of the kitchen is bounded by the back court lines. These run parallel to the net, 22 feet behind the kitchen lines.
Players can legally stand behind the kitchen, between the back lines and the kitchen lines. But they still cannot volley the ball from this backcourt area.
Common Kitchen Violations in Pickleball
Kitchen violations are one of the most common infractions in pickleball. Here are some examples of illegal volleys that lead to faults:
Stepping on the Kitchen Line
If any part of a player’s foot touches the kitchen line while volleying, it is a fault. Players must remain completely outside the line when hitting volleys.
Reaching Over with the Racquet
Players cannot stand outside the kitchen and reach their racquet over the line to volley. The racquet counts as part of the player’s body.
Hitting Volleys Inside the Kitchen
It is illegal to hit volleys while standing completely inside the kitchen area. Players need to back up behind the kitchen line before volleying.
Crossing the Center Line
Players cannot cross the center line and volley from inside their opponent’s kitchen. They must stay on their side of the court.
Volleying from the Backcourt
The backcourt area behind the kitchen is for moving and waiting. Players cannot legally hit volleys from this zone.
Being aware of the kitchen boundaries and rules is key for avoiding violations. With practice, players learn to volley from legal positions on the court.
- Why Do I Keep Missing the Ball in Pickleball?
- What Should I Eat Before Pickleball?
- When to Dink in Pickleball: Mastering the Art of Controlled Shots
Strategies for Using the Kitchen in Pickleball
The kitchen shapes many strategies and tactics in pickleball. Here are tips for using the kitchen area effectively:
Control the Kitchen Area
Try to take control of the kitchen area by getting to volleys quickly. The team that owns the kitchen gains an advantage.
Use the Kitchen Line
Aim shots deep to the opponent’s kitchen line. This forces them back and sets up your team to take the kitchen.
Avoid the Kitchen
When returning hard shots, avoid landing in the kitchen where you cannot volley. Instead try to stay behind the line.
Fake into the Kitchen
Faking a volley move into the kitchen can trick your opponent and open up the court. Just don’t actually touch the line!
Lobs Over the Kitchen
Hit high lobs that land deep in the opponent’s kitchen to force them back. Then rush the net to take control.
With practice and kitchen awareness, players can utilize this key zone strategically.
Origin of the Kitchen in Pickleball
The kitchen has been part of pickleball since the very beginning of the sport in the 1960s.
Invention of Pickleball
The game of pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum – improvised a game to entertain their bored kids.
They used a perforated plastic ball and lowered badminton nets to create a fun family activity. This new sport was similar to tennis but easier for kids to play.
Addition of the Kitchen Area
As they refined the game, the dads decided to paint non-volley zones on each side of the net.
This created a “kitchen” area where volleying was prohibited. The kitchen made the game fair for younger players by preventing smashes right at the net.
The original kitchen size was 10 feet. It was later reduced to 7 feet as the optimal distance.
Spread of Pickleball
Pickleball quickly spread beyond Bainbridge Island as a recreational game. By the 1970s, it had reached the mainland U.S. and Canada.
The kitchen zone has been part of pickleball from these early origins through its rise to a popular international sport.
- How Has the Rapid Growth of Pickleball Led to the Formation of Several Major Associations Around the World?
- What Are the Rules for Singles Pickleball?
- Why Is Pickleball Banned in NYC
Pickleball Kitchen FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the kitchen in pickleball:
Why is it 7 feet?
The 7-foot kitchen distance creates the right balance and flow of play in pickleball. 10 feet was too big and slow in early games. At 5 feet, volleys happen too fast. 7 feet became the ideal compromise.
Can you volley while stepping in the kitchen?
No, it is a fault to volley with any part of the body touching the kitchen lines or area. Players can move through the kitchen without volleying and stand in it when letting balls bounce. But they cannot legally hit volleys while touching any part of the kitchen.
What if the ball hits you in the kitchen?
There is no fault if the ball bounces and then hits a player standing inside the kitchen. Faults only occur when players illegally volley from inside the kitchen area.
Can you run into the kitchen after hitting a volley?
Yes, players can enter the kitchen after completing a volley shot outside the lines. There is no penalty for crossing into the kitchen after legally volleying the ball from outside the zone.
Does the kitchen exist in other racquet sports?
No, the kitchen is unique to pickleball. Other racquet sports like tennis, badmintion, and racquetball do not have designated non-volley zones. The kitchen gives pickleball its distinct flavor of play.
The kitchen is the important 7-foot non-volley zone on each side of the pickleball net. This area prevents smashing from the net and allows time to reach volleys. Rules prohibit volleying while touching any part of the kitchen. Strategic use of the kitchen shapes games. The kitchen has been integral to pickleball since the sport’s invention in the 1960s. Understanding this special zone is key for smart and legal pickleball play.