Pickleball Kitchen Rules (Made Simple)

A kitchen in pickleball? That can’t be right! Wrong. You haven’t accidentally stumbled across a cooking article. The kitchen refers to a specific area in pickleball. And it’s a pivotal component of the game.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the kitchen and break down the pickleball kitchen rules to make them easy to understand.

pickleball kitchen rules

What Is the Kitchen in Pickleball?

The non-volley zone in pickleball, or kitchen as it is more commonly known, is an area adjacent to either side of the net. It spans the entire court width and measures 7 ft out from the net on either side.

As the name “non-volley zone” implies, this is an area where you are not permitted to volley the ball This prevents players from overwhelming opponents with easy smashes at the net, thereby helping to slow down the game of pickleball and promote tactical thinking.

Where Did the Name Kitchen Come From?

We can both agree that the term “kitchen” is a bit strange for a sporting zone. And while I’d like to tell you there is a good reason for it, I can’t.

In fact, no one can because nobody knows for sure where the name originated from. Some speculate the term was adopted from Shuffleboard. In that game, they have an area called the kitchen which is also called “10-off”. In this zone, you lose 10 points if your puck lands there.

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Pickleball Kitchen Rules That You Need to Know

In its simplest form, just know that all volleying is illegal when you are in the kitchen. However, it does get a little bit more complex than that. But don’t worry, I’ll break it down in an easily digestible way. As a side note, if you can check out the official rules for yourself.

The kitchen rules in pickleball state that:

  • You can only volley outside of the kitchen
  • You or anything you are wearing cannot make contact with the kitchen during a volley
  • The momentum of your volley cannot carry you into the kitchen
  • If you touch the kitchen, both feet must make contact outside of the kitchen before you can volley
  • You may enter the kitchen at any time, provided you do not volley the ball

Not so hard to understand, is it? Once you get your head around the fact that the rules encompass the whole volleying sequence, it’s easy to understand.

So jumping, the whole action of your swing, and finishing momentum are all penalizable if you set foot in the kitchen.

So What Can You Do in the Kitchen?

You’re probably thinking this kitchen area sounds pretty rubbish! I can’t do anything there!

And you’re somewhat right, the kitchen is a very restricted area, so most of the time, it’s not where you want to stand. That being said, you’ll need to set foot in the kitchen to reach dinks or drop shots.

And remember, you can hit the ball in the kitchen in pickleball at any time, provided you don’t play a volley. It’s just that there is no advantage to actively standing in the kitchen, so you should only step foot in if you need to. As the saying goes: stay out of the kitchen, play pickleball!

Instead, the best place to stand is just outside of the kitchen. This is the most commanding area in pickleball as it is the closest to the net that you can smash. It’s also the easiest place to pressure your opponent and prevent them from advancing to a stronger position.


What Is a Non-Volley Zone Called?

The non-volley zone is colloquially referred to as the kitchen.

Where Is the Kitchen in Pickleball?

The kitchen is located on either side of the net. It measures 20 ft wide and 14 ft deep, 7 ft deep on either side of the court.

Can You Ever Go in the Kitchen?

The kitchen rules for pickleball state that you can enter the kitchen any time during a pickleball match. However, you may not volley the ball when you are in the kitchen.

When Can You Go Into the Kitchen in Pickleball?

You can step into the kitchen in pickleball at any time, but you cannot volley the ball if you choose to do so.

When Can the Ball Be Hit Out of the Kitchen Zone in Pickleball?

The pickleball rules for the kitchen allow you to volley the ball even if it is going to land in the kitchen. That being said, your feet must be outside the kitchen, so you’ll have to lean over to make the shot.

As a result, much of the time it makes more sense to wait for the ball to bounce before making your shot

Can You Step in the Kitchen in Pickleball Before It Bounces?

You can step into the kitchen before the ball bounces. But be wary of doing this. It prevents you from being able to play a volley which is an option you always want to have on the table.


The bottom line is that the pickleball kitchen rules forbid all volleying within the area. If you land in the zone, you can’t even jump outside the kitchen to make a volley. So don’t do it.

Instead, try playing most of your game outside the kitchen. From here, you can volley and step into the kitchen to return a dink if needed.

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Freelance writer. Table tennis enthusiast. Lover of all things online. When I’m not working on my loop game I’m probably binge-watching some fantasy show.