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Debunking 7 Myths About the Kitchen in Pickleball

Debunking 7 Myths About the Kitchen in Pickleball

Among the many nuances and rules of pickleball, the regulations surrounding the kitchen, or non-volley zone, often raise questions and stir debates among players. Understanding the misconceptions and realities surrounding the pickleball kitchen rules is essential for mastering the game. 

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What is the Kitchen?

Before diving into the myths and facts, let's clarify what the kitchen is. Also known as the non-volley zone (NVZ), it's a seven-foot area on each side of the net. The kitchen aims to ensure fair play by limiting smashes right at the net and encouraging strategic gameplay.

Myth 1: You Can't Step Into the Kitchen 

Contrary to popular belief, players are allowed to step into the kitchen as long as they don't volley the ball (hit it out of the air) while inside it. It is also legal to stay in the kitchen as long as you wish–though it is not advisable, because it may be hard to avoid a volley if a shot comes directly at you. If you do step into the kitchen to return a short ball, it is best to step back out as soon as you’ve completed the shot. Note that it is also illegal to step into the kitchen on the momentum of a volley, even if the volley is hit from behind the kitchen line. 

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Myth 2: Any Part of the Body in the Kitchen is a Fault

This is a common misconception. In reality, only a foot needs to be inside the kitchen to constitute a fault. If any part of the player's body, except for the feet, is in the kitchen but not touching the kitchen surface, it's not considered a fault. However, if something falls off of a player into the kitchen during a volley, such as a hat, a ball in your pocket or sunglasses, that  is considered a fault.

Myth 3: You Can't Return a Ball from Inside the Kitchen

While players need to be cautious about volleying from the kitchen, they can still return shots from this area. The key is to let the ball bounce once on their side before hitting it. 

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Myth 4: The Return of Serve Must Clear The Kitchen Line

While the serve itself must clear the kitchen line, the return of serve doesn’t have to. The only requirement of the return of serve is that it bounce twice before being hit back. This is called the double bounce rule.

Myth 5: The Kitchen Line is In

If a serve lands on the kitchen line, it is considered out. All other lines on the service box—including the sideline—are considered in on a serve. For all other play, the kitchen line is fair game.

Myth 6: The Ball Must Bounce In the Kitchen In Order To Enter The Kitchen

There is no rule prohibiting a player from entering the kitchen, at any time. There is no requirement that the ball bounce in the kitchen in order to enter it. only that a ball must bounce in the kitchen before being hit from in the kitchen, it is generally best to stay out of the kitchen, as you may get caught there when a shot comes fast at you and be unable to avoid volleying it from there. 

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Myth 7: It Is Legal To Volley While Standing On The Kitchen Line

The kitchen line is considered part of the kitchen. Therefore, hitting a volley while your feet are on the kitchen line is as much a fault as if you were standing entirely inside the kitchen.

In pickleball, the kitchen isn't just a spot on the court; it's a fundamental aspect of the game. By understanding its rules and clearing up misconceptions, players gain a crucial edge in their matches. So, next time you step onto the court, keep the kitchen rules in mind and play to win!

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