Are You Breaking These Pickleball Kitchen Rules?

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When you were a kid, did you ever play the game “The Floor Is Lava?” Well, that’s kind of how pickleball kitchen rules work as well. UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.

Don’t worry, we’ll go over exactly what those are in this article. 

organge pickleball on court with text overlay

What Is the Kitchen In Pickleball?

If you’re not already familiar, the “kitchen” or non-volley zone is that line that is the 7-foot area on either side of the net.

More Resources: Pickleball Court Dimensions vs Tennis Court: Comparison

IMPORTANT: The non-volley zone (kitchen) is only the space ON THE PHYSICAL COURT. It does not include the air or space above it. 

It’s called the non-volley zone for a specific reason. YOU CAN NOT VOLLEY ( hit the ball on the fly) in that area.

The non-volley zone has caused countless arguments, debates, and tough losses for beginner pickleball players.

The kitchen exists so that players can’t just post up at the net and smash everything that comes their way.

Without the kitchen, there would be less strategy and finesse to the game. It would just be a mess.

Don’t believe me? Go ahead give it a try for a rally.

non-volley-zone-highlighted inside of a pickleball court

Why Is It Called The Kitchen In Pickleball?

There’s no denying that the word “kitchen” makes no sense for pickleball. So How did the non-volley zone get this weird name?

Pickleball is a Frankenstein of sports. It has aspects of ping pong, tennis, and badminton.

The term “kitchen” in pickleball is thought to come from shuffleboard. The last section in shuffleboard is called the kitchen or the 10-off zone since you would lose 10 points. Similar to shuffleboard, you get penalized for being in the kitchen in pickleball. 

What Are The Pickleball Kitchen Rules?

Now that we got the background information out of the way let’s dive into the rules of the kitchen in pickleball.

Here is a brief overview and then we will dig a little deeper into them.

But if you don’t have the basic rule down, I recommend checking them out first.

More Resources: How to Play Pickleball: A Beginners Guide to Pickleball Rules

Basic Pickleball Kitchen Rules

  • All volleys must be initiated outside the non-volley zone. 
  •  If Your feet, anything you’re wearing, or anything that is attached to you (glasses, hat, extra ball in your pocket, hand) touches the non-volley line after volleying the ball, it’s a fault
  • If your forward momentum causes you to fall or step into the kitchen after volleying a shot, it is a fault.
  • You may step into the kitchen BEFORE or AFTER any shot where the ball bounces
  • A player is allowed to wait in the kitchen as long as you don’t hit a volley.
  • Your partner is allowed to be standing in the kitchen while you volley from outside.

Rules Breakdown

The first rule, (Rule 9. A). states that all volleys must be initiated outside of the kitchen area.

For instance, if you were in the kitchen to return a dink, you must ensure that BOTH FEET are outside of the kitchen line even starting a volley.

The second rule (Rule 9.B.)  states that’s anything that is attached to you or you are holding cannot be in the kitchen.

This means if you hit a volley and your paddle falls into the kitchen that is a fault.

The third rule (Rule 9.C.) states that you cannot land in the kitchen even if you hit a volley behind the line. That means if you’re right up on the line and your momentum carries you into the kitchen, that is a fault.

Even if the ball is dead before you step into the kitchen. However, once you re-establish yourself firmly, you may step back into the kitchen.

Rule number 4 (Rule 9.F.) You MAY STEP IN THE KITCHEN before or after the ball as long as it bounces. 

If your opponent hits a dink shot that gets caught up on the top of the net and barely falls over, you can step in and get it.

Rule five (Rule 9.G.) states You are allowed to hang out in the kitchen. This is not ideal though. If your opponent hits a screamer at you, there’s not a whole lot you can do.

It is best to get back to having both toes right in front of the kitchen line immediately after stepping in.

The final rule (Rule 9.H.) is that your partner CAN stand in the kitchen while you volley from outside the kitchen.

Bending The Kitchen Rules

There are a couple of ways to be aggressive at the front of the net that is perfectly legal to avoid breaking the kitchen rules.

Hack #1. Partner Assistance: If you smash a shot and your momentum causes you to get dangerously close to the non-volley line, your partner can physically hold you back from crossing that line. Be careful not to drop anything into the kitchen or its fault.

Also, your partner must assist from outside the kitchen, if they are in the kitchen, they are a part of the kitchen.

Hack #2. Erne: An Erne is when you either go through, over or around the non-volley zone and hit a volley back at your opponent while you’re standing out of bounds.

This is a very high-level advanced shot and the same kitchen rule applies here as any other shot. Even though you’re out of bounds, if you’re momentum makes you step into the kitchen, It is a fault.

If you start your swing while in the kitchen, it is also a fault.

If you want to learn more about how to hit an Erne check out our article where we go into more detail

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