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Ultimate Guide To Pickleball Kitchen Rules [+ FAQs and Tips]

Unlocking the intricacies of pickleball’s kitchen rules is crucial for players aiming to elevate their game. In this guide, we break down the intricacies of this critical zone, offering straightforward insights into its dimensions, rules, and strategic significance. 

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, unlocking the secrets of the kitchen will undoubtedly sharpen your gameplay and enhance your pickleball experience.

What Is The Kitchen In Pickleball?

The kitchen in pickleball, often referred to as the Non-Volley Zone (NVZ), is a designated area on the court located adjacent to the net. This zone extends approximately 2.13m from the net on either side, delineated by the non-volley line.

Pickleball Kitchen

What is the size of the kitchen?

The size of the kitchen in pickleball measures approximately 6.1m (20 feet) in length and 4.26m (14 feet) in width. This rectangular area extends 2.13 meters (7 feet) from the net on both sides of the court and is delineated by the non-volley line:

Size of Pickleball Court

What is the purpose of the kitchen in pickleball?

The kitchen in pickleball serves several crucial purposes, all aimed at enhancing the fairness and strategic depth of the game. By imposing limitations on certain types of shots within its boundaries, such as volleys, the kitchen compels players to engage in more thoughtful and tactical gameplay. 

Purpose of the kitchen in Pickleball

Rather than simply camping out at the net and relying on power shots, players must develop better footwork and shot placement strategies to outmaneuver their opponents effectively. This restriction fosters a more dynamic and engaging style of play, encouraging prolonged rallies and rewarding skillful execution over brute force. 

Ultimately, the kitchen plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity and enjoyability of pickleball matches, ensuring that victory is earned through strategy and finesse rather than sheer power.

What Are The Main Rules In The Kitchen?

According to the International Federation of Pickleball’s (IFP) official tournament rulebook, here are the 4 key rules associated with the kitchen:

9.A. A fault will be declared if, during a volley, the player or anything the player is wearing or carrying touches the non-volley zone, including the associated fault.

9.B. A fault will be declared if, in the act of volleying the ball, a player or anything the player is wearing or carrying touches the non-volley zone or touches any non-volley line. For example, a fault will be declared if, in the act of volleying the ball, one of the player’s feet touches a non-volley line.”

9.C. A fault will be declared if, in the act of volleying the ball, the player’s momentum causes the player or anything the player is wearing or carrying to touch the non-volley zone or touch any non-volley line. It is a fault if the player’s momentum causes the player to touch anything that is touching the non-volley zone, including the player’s partner. It is a fault even if the ball is declared dead before the player touches the non-volley zone.”

9.D. A fault will be declared if, in the act of volleying the ball, the player or anything the player is wearing or carrying touches the net system (including net, net posts, net cord, or net hardware) or the opponent’s court.

But what does this all actually mean?

Fret not, because we’ve simplified the rules in the sections below!

What can I do in the kitchen?

The kitchen in pickleball offers players a strategic zone to maneuver and execute shots with precision. Here’s a breakdown of what you can do within this area:

  • Employ various shot techniques, like groundstrokes and lobs, as long as the ball bounces first.
  • Move freely within the zone but must avoid volleys.
  • In doubles, one player can volley while the other stays in the kitchen

Additionally, players should be mindful of their positioning and movements to avoid infractions and maintain fair play on the court.

What can I not do in the kitchen?

While the kitchen provides opportunities for strategic play, certain restrictions apply to maintain the integrity of the game.

  • Avoid standing in or making contact with the kitchen zone or line during volleys.
  • Any contact during a volley, including feet or carried items, is a fault.
  • Momentum causing any part of the player or attached items to touch the kitchen or line during a volley constitutes a fault, even if the ball is declared dead. This includes items such as pickleball paddles, accessories or clothing.

Tips To Utilise The Kitchen Effectively

Follow these tips and learn how to utilise the kitchen to strategically gain an edge over your opponents.

Control The Kitchen Line

Controlling the kitchen line allows you to dictate play, putting pressure on your opponents and setting yourself up for effective volleys and dinks, essential for maintaining dominance in the game.

Master Volleys and Dinks

Mastering volleys and dinks (soft shots) near the net is essential for effective kitchen play. Use volleys to keep your opponents on the defensive and set up winning shots. Employ dinks to delicately place the ball in hard-to-reach spots, forcing your opponents to make difficult returns.

Force Errors

Utilise the kitchen to force errors from your opponents. By consistently hitting accurate shots that force your opponents to hit upward, you can create opportunities to capitalise on their mistakes. Aim for shots that keep the ball low and force your opponents to hit from a defensive position.

Practice Placement

Practice placing your shots precisely within the kitchen area to keep your opponents off balance. Aim for the sidelines and the middle of the court to exploit gaps in your opponents’ positioning and force them to move laterally, increasing the likelihood of errors.

FAQs About The Kitchen In Pickleball

No, players are not allowed to jump and land in the kitchen during a pickleball match. Doing so would constitute a fault, as it involves making contact with the kitchen zone or line during play.

No, the kitchen line itself is not considered part of the kitchen. However, it marks the boundary of the kitchen, and players must avoid touching it or crossing over it while volleying the ball.

Yes, an erne shot is legal in pickleball as long as it is executed without touching the kitchen or its boundary lines. Players can perform an erne shot by being airborne above the kitchen or by standing outside the court lines beside the kitchen, allowing them to legally volley the ball.

No, pickleball serves must not be hit into the kitchen or on the demarcation lines surrounding it. Serving into the kitchen would result in a fault, as it violates the rule prohibiting volleys within the kitchen area.

Playing video games and taking naps are two of Kuan's favourite activities. He also has interests in space exploration and philosophy. When he was a kid, he had dreams of becoming an astronaut.


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