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What Is the Kitchen in Pickleball?

Kitchen in Pickleball

Do you know what the kitchen is in pickleball? In pickleball, the "kitchen" is an essential part of the court that refers to a rectangular area located on both sides of the net, in front of the service court. The kitchen is also known as the non-volley zone and is 7 feet deep and 20 feet wide on either side of the net. It is a crucial area of the court where players have to be very careful while hitting the ball.

The kitchen is designed to promote fair play and prevent players from using their proximity to the net to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents. The non-volley zone rule prohibits players from hitting the ball while standing inside the kitchen unless the ball bounces first.

The no-volley rule is designed to promote longer rallies and exciting exchanges between players. Since players cannot hit the ball out of the air (volley) while standing in the kitchen, they have to use their skill and strategy to create opportunities for themselves to hit the ball outside of the kitchen. This rule also prevents players from hitting aggressive shots that are difficult for their opponents to return, which might lead to one-sided matches.

Stepping into the kitchen from the momentum of a volley is also prohibited and is known as a "foot fault." A foot fault results in a point for the opposing team (or in losing a service turn if your team is serving). Players have to stay behind the line while hitting volleys or overhead shots to avoid making a mistake that could cost them a point.

There is a common fallacy that a player can not stand in the kitchen at all, but this is not true. It might not be a good strategy, though, because it would be hard to return an aggressive shot from this position without volleying it.


How Big Is the Kitchen in Pickleball?

The entirety of the kitchen on a pickleball court is 280 square feet, consisting of 140 square feet on each side of the net.

The kitchen is an important part of the pickleball court, and understanding its size and location is crucial for players to avoid making foot faults and playing by the rules. The 7-foot depth of the kitchen from the net provides enough space for players to hit the ball while standing outside of the zone, promoting longer rallies and exciting exchanges between players.


The 3 Pickleball Kitchen Rules

Because the pickleball kitchen (or non-volley zone) is such a crucial part of the game, the Pickleball kitchen has its own rules:

  1. No volleying inside the kitchen: Players are not allowed to hit the ball while standing inside the kitchen, unless the ball bounces in the kitchen or is hit from outside of the kitchen. The no-volley rule is designed to prevent players from taking advantage of their proximity to the net by hitting aggressive shots that are difficult for their opponents to return.
  2. Foot faults: Stepping into the kitchen before completing a shot is called a foot fault and results in a point for the opposing team (or loss of service turn). Players must keep both feet behind the line while hitting volleys or overhead shots to avoid making a mistake that could cost them a point. Even stepping into the kitchen on a follow through is considered a fault.
  3. Line calls: If a service ball lands on the kitchen line, it is considered to be inside the kitchen. If a player serves the ball and it lands on or inside the kitchen line, it is considered a fault and a loss of service turn.

The exception to the no-volley rule is when the ball bounces in the kitchen. In this case, players can hit it from inside the kitchen.

If a player hits the ball out of the air while standing inside the kitchen, or steps into the kitchen before the completion of a volleyed shot, it is considered a non-volley zone violation, and results in a fault.

Understanding and following these rules associated with the kitchen is essential for players to perform well and enjoy the game while promoting fair and competitive play.


Why is it called the Kitchen in Pickleball?

Using the term “Kitchen” to refer to an area of a sports court actually originated from shuffleboard. In shuffleboard, the kitchen is an area of the playing surface where players are not allowed to step or touch the playing disc while it is in that area. The kitchen is used to increase the difficulty of the game and encourage players to rely on their skills rather than just stepping into the scoring area to win points.

Similarly, in pickleball, the non-volley zone, or kitchen, is designed to increase the difficulty of the game and promote fair play. The no-volley rule in the kitchen encourages players to develop their skills and rely on proper technique to win points, rather than just hitting aggressive shots close to the net.

So, the term "kitchen" in pickleball refers to the non-volley zone, and it was named after the kitchen in shuffleboard due to the similarities in their rules and gameplay.


What Can You Do in the Pickleball Kitchen?

Here are 3 things that youcan do in the pickleball kitchen:

  1. Wait for the ball to bounce: If the ball bounces inside the kitchen, you can step into the kitchen to hit the ball. After the ball bounces, you can hit the ball while standing in the kitchen without committing a fault.
  2. Return a shot from outside the kitchen: You can hit the ball out of the air from outside the kitchen, while balancing on the kitchen line, as long as your momentum doesn’t carry you into the kitchen.
  3. Move through the kitchen: You can move through the kitchen while the ball is in play, but you cannot stand inside the kitchen to hit the ball unless it bounces in the kitchen or is hit from outside the kitchen.

It's important to note that players cannot hit the ball while standing inside the kitchen, unless the ball bounces in the kitchen or is hit from outside of the kitchen. Stepping into the kitchen before a shot is completed is known as a "foot fault" and results in a point for the opposing team (or loss of service turn). Therefore, players need to be mindful of the pickleball kitchen rules to avoid making foot faults and play accordingly.

In summary,the kitchen is a critical area of the pickleball court, and understanding the pickleball kitchen rules is essential for players to perform well and enjoy the game. For more about the rules of pickleball and how to play, click here.

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