Non-volley Zone In Pickleball

Non-volley Zone In Pickleball: Kitchen Rule Explained

If you’re a beginner in pickleball, one of the few terms that might confuse you is the kitchen zone. This is also commonly called the non-volley zone in pickleball. 

Primarily, the kitchen zone is a 7-foot area extending from both sides of the net where the players cannot hit the ball. No player, or any part of his body and clothing, shall hit a volley when they are in the kitchen zone.

Many players consider the kitchen zone a dangerous pit where faults can easily be made. Thus, knowing the rules and regulations is essential to ace the gameplay.

The kitchen rules may sound confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it— you will realize that the kitchen zone can be used to your advantage. In this article, we will be discussing everything that you need to learn about the non-volley zone.

Let’s get started!

What Does No Volley Zone Mean?

Before we define what no volley zone means, let us first understand the meaning of “volley” in pickleball.

The term “volley” means a player is striking the ball in the air before its first bounce on the surface. And since the kitchen is a no-volley zone, the player cannot strike the ball before it bounces in the kitchen area.

Moreover, the term “groundstroke” means that the player has hit the ball after it bounced off the ground.

A fault will be immediately called if a player strikes a volley in the kitchen area. This makes the game more consistent and smooth throughout.

Why Is It Called The Kitchen?

There is no clear reference to why the pickleball non-volley zone is called the kitchen.

In the shuffleboard, it can be recalled that the “kitchen” is a zone where players can lose a point. In both shuffleboard and pickleball, the term kitchen is a dangerous zone.

What Are The Kitchen Rules?

So basically, you already knew that you should never perform a volley in the kitchen zone, as it will result in a fault. However, there are still more rules that are more complicated than that.

What Happens When Something I Wear Dropped On The Kitchen Zone?

However, there are more complicated rules regarding the no-volley zone. According to the handbook published by the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP), it will also be a fault if anything you wear drops in the kitchen zone while performing a volley.

This means that when you drop your paddle or anything that belongs to you, the moment you make a volley, even outside the kitchen zone, is a fault.

What Happens When Something I Wear Dropped On The Kitchen Zone Because Of My Momentum?

This also includes those that happened because of momentum. The handbook also states that it will be considered a fault if the player’s momentum caused anything they wear to touch the no valley zone. 

This will still be considered a fault even if a dead ball is declared before the violation. So, staying out of the kitchen is recommended, even in case of dead balls.

Moreover, it will be a legal hit if you volley a ball outside the kitchen zone, but the paddle goes beyond the line in mid-air. The kitchen area is the line on the court’s surface and does not encompass the area above it. 

It is also important to remember that the kitchen rules only apply when volleying a ball. If the ball bounced off the court, then the kitchen rules would no longer be in place.

Can I Jump From The Kitchen When Performing A Volley and Then Land Outside?

Another kitchen rule that complicates the pickleball is jumping from the kitchen to perform a volley and then landing outside of it. In the actual game, this is still considered a fault.

The general idea is to not initiate a volley when you’re in the kitchen. So, even when you land outside of it, you will still get shouted, “fault!”

To ensure that you will not be faulted, reset your footing outside of the kitchen zone, then perform the strike on the ball.

What Can I Do Inside The Kitchen Zone?

Many players found themselves in the kitchen to perform a short drop. This is legal as long as the ball bounces off the court first. However, you still must be very careful whenever you’re in the kitchen.

The main reason is that any volley you make in the kitchen will be an automatic fault. So, ensure that when you find yourself inside, get out of it as fast as possible.

The more you play pickleball, the more you visualize the kitchen as a dangerous pit. But you shouldn’t worry because you can still perform groundstrokes in the zone.

Just remember to let the ball bounce first, and be careful when striking the ball to avoid violations.

Where Should I Stand?

You might have been wondering, where should I best position myself if the kitchen zone is that dangerous?

Well, your position will vary depending on the rally of the game. But positioning yourself near the kitchen is a great advantage. This is a strategic position, especially if there is a continuous rally of dinks.

What Does Toeing The Line Means In Pickleball?

According to the professional pickleball player Sarah Ansboury, toeing the line means positioning your feet just inches away from the kitchen line. 

Toeing the line will require a lot of practice to master if you are a beginner in the sport. At first, it will be hard to focus on not touching the kitchen line. But, when you are already familiar with the game, you can imagine an imaginary wall in front of you keeping you away from the kitchen zone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you’re already familiar with the kitchen zone’s basic rules let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the no valley zone.

Can You Hit The Ball In The No-Valley Zone?

You cannot perform a volley in the kitchen zone. You can hit the ball as long as it bounces off the court. When you volley the ball while inside the no-volley zone, it will result in an automatic fault and a point to your opponent.

Can You Jump Over The Kitchen In Pickleball?

It will be an automatic fault if you jump over the kitchen to volley the ball. It is still considered a fault if you’re inside the kitchen, jump to volley the ball, and land outside the kitchen zone.

The intent to volley the ball inside the kitchen zone matters in deciding whether it is a fault. Since you intend to volley the ball, it’s still a fault even if you landed outside.

Can I Hit The Ball In The Kitchen Zone With Just One Feet Inside It?

Volleying the ball with any part of the body inside the kitchen zone will be an automatic fault. However, you can volley a ball while your paddle goes beyond the kitchen zone in mid-air.

Can I Be Inside The Kitchen Area While My Partner Volleys Or Strikes A Ball?

You can be inside the kitchen zone if you don’t volley the ball. If your partner strikes a ball outside the kitchen zone while you’re inside, the play is legal because the volley happens outside of the no-volley zone.

Remember that your partner should not touch you while volleying the ball if you’re inside the volley zone. In that case, the play will be considered a fault.

What Are The Four Faults In The Kitchen Zone?

When you’re in the kitchen zone, Here is a summary of the four faults that you can commit while inside the kitchen zone:

  • When you volley a ball inside the kitchen zone
  • When anything you wear drops inside the kitchen zone while volleying the ball
  • When your momentum caused you to be inside the kitchen zone while volleying the ball
  • And when you jumped from the kitchen zone to outside, volleying the ball.

A Dangerous Pit!

Many players consider the kitchen zone as a dangerous trap. When you find yourself inside it, the chances of you getting a fault will be more probable. Hence, many professional players recommend getting out of the volley zone as much as possible.

If you’re only a beginner to the sport, it will take a lot of practice to be mindful of these kitchen rules. Don’t worry too much if you get too many faults when playing the game. The more you play the game, the more you will get the hang of it.

In the end, you will realize that many opportunities can be created when you use the kitchen zone to your advantage. 

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