Pickleball Kitchen Rules Explained in 30 Seconds

What is the pickleball kitchen rule?

Simple answer, the pickleball kitchen rule states that all volleys must be hit outside of the non-volley zone, colloquially known as the “kitchen.” In other words, players cannot step into the Kitchen or touch the line when volleying; they must let the ball bounce before hitting it.

Want the not-so-simple answer?

The pickleball kitchen rule is actually a set of 8 rules that all roll up into the kitchen rule.

Pickleball Kitchen Rules In 30 Seconds

The pickleball kitchen rule encourages players to stay out of the “kitchen” and behind the established baseline, at all times.

  1. Either be in the kitchen or touch items on the way to being cleaned.
  2. Any part of the player’s body, or anything it is in contact with, such as their partner or paddle, must not physically touch the kitchen line.
  3. Your ball may swing, follow through, or the player’s momentum from hitting the ball in the kitchen touch the line. If you lean to hit a volley, it is okay because your paddle is space above ground – not on the ground.

Pickleball Kitchen Deep Explanation

If you’re interested in the official kitchen rules, look no further! I’ve included comprehensive explanations of these rules from the USAPA Rule Book.

Rule 9.A:

All volleys must be initiated outside of the non-volley zone. For players using wheelchairs, the front (smaller) wheels may touch the non-volley zone during a volley.

Additional Explenation

If you want to volley the ball (hit it before it bounces), then you must stand outside of the kitchen. It gets more complicated than that, so keep reading to understand all the details.

Rule 9.B:

It is a fault if the volleying player or anything that has contact with the volleying player while in the act of volleying touches the non-volley zone.


The act of volleying the ball includes the swing, the follow-through, and the momentum from the action.


If the paddle touches the non-volley zone during the volley motion, before or after contacting the ball, it is a fault.

Additional Explanation

This rule may seem confusing, but all it’s saying is that when volleying, not just your feet must stay outside of and away from the kitchen line. This include anything else attached to you or your body–such as your paddle or hands. Consequently, if you were to volley the ball while standing outside of the kitchen, but drop your paddle or something else inside the Kitchen after the volleyball, this would be considered a fault.

Rule 9.C:

It is a fault if the player’s momentum causes the player to contact 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 contacts the non-volley zone.

Additional Explanation

This is a serious matter. Do not enter the kitchen unless you are certain the ball has bounced.

If you Volley and lose your balance, this is a fault.

Even if the ball is dead, it’s still a fault.

Rule 9.D:

If a player has touched the non-volley zone for any reason, that player cannot volley a return until both feet have made contact with the playing surface completely outside the non-volley zone. A maneuver such as standing within the non-volley zone, jumping up to hit a volley, and then landing outside the non-volley zone is prohibited.

Additional Explanation

Unless you’re expecting a ball to come flying into the kitchen, it’s best to avoid that room.

If you start a volley in the kitchen zone or on the and finish by landing outside of that area, it is counted as a fault.

This rule dictates that if you are going to volley the ball, both feet must be firmly planted and positioned outside of the kitchen and behind the line before starting.

Rule 9.E:

A player may enter the non-volley zone at any time except when that player is volleying the ball.

Rule 9.F:

A player may enter the non-volley zone before or after returning any ball that bounces.

Rule 9.G:

A player may stay inside the non-volley zone to return a ball that has bounced. There is no violation if a player does not exit the non-volley zone after hitting a ball that bounces.

Additional Explanation

In other words, never enter the kitchen unless the ball has bounced.

Rule 9.H:

There is no violation if a player returns the ball while their partner is standing in the non-volley zone.

Additional Explanation

This is a good one to have in your arsenal.

In fact, I’ve seen some players who believe both players have to stay out of the kitchen when one player hits a volley shot.

The player not currently hitting the ball may go to the kitchen line or stay in the kitchen, as long as the player volleying the ball does not hit them.

5 Important Pickleball Kitchen Facts

Fact 1

The Non-Volley Zone (NVZ) is more commonly referred to as the kitchen. For simplicity’s sake, I will be referring to it as the kitchen in this article.

Fact 2

The kitchen is the 7-foot area on each side of the net that goes into the court and covers its entire width.

Fact 3

The kitchen line, like all other pickleball court lines, is 2 inches thick. It is also part of the kitchen; meaning that the Kitchen includes the lines.

Fact 4

The kitchen rule is necessary to create a fair pickleball game where players can’t stand too close to the net and smash the ball over. If this rule didn’t exist, it would be difficult to have an enjoyable match that wasn’t just one player smashing the ball into the ground or their opponent.

Fact 5

The kitchen is the term for the bottom section of the table where you are not allowed to reach over with your paddle. When playing volleyball, it’s legal to have your paddle above the net as long as you don’t touch or go over the line on either side.

Important Pickleball Terms


A volley is when you hit the ball before it has had a chance to bounce.


A dink is a ball that comes over the net, bounces once, and is then returned.

The act of dinking or lobbing the ball over the net is crucial to ensure that your partner cannot smash the ball back at you.

If you can learn how to place or dink the ball strategically to your opponent’s side, this could help shift the tide of points and games in your favor.

What Is The Kitchen In Pickleball?

The non-volley zone (NVZ), more commonly known as the kitchen in pickleball, is a 7-foot area demarcated by lines parallel to the net on either side of it. These sideline lines are part of the kitchen.

Unlike other sports like tennis, badminton, squash and racquetball, the aim of the kitchen is to reduce the number of “smash” hits. A smash hit that’s close to the net usually ends the play because it puts the opponent at a disadvantage with its hard, fast strike.

The inventors of pickleball, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum created the game to be easy enough for anyone to play. They also wanted the ball to be hit with pickleball paddles without innumerable hard hits that would halt gameplay.

The inventors of pickleball created the non-volley zone and introduced the concept of a “dink” hit, which is essentially lobbing the ball over the net gently from either close range while standing in the kitchen zone (if it has bounced already) or behind the line. When players have a strategic rally going with only “dinks,” that’s when things start to get interesting.

A crucial element to remember about the pickleball kitchen rule is that it refers to the physical ground, not the space above it. This rule doesn’t stop you from positioning yourself outside of the kitchen (but still not on the line) and hitting a volley shot with your paddle over into the opponent’s territory.

Frequently Asked Pickleball Kitchen Rule Questions

When can the ball be hit out of the non-volley zone in pickleball?

Pickleball players can hit the ball out of the non-volley zone when the ball has bounced.

What is a non-volley zone called?

The “non-volley zone” is commonly referred to as the “kitchen”.

Can you ever go in the kitchen in pickleball?

Pickleball players are allowed to go into the kitchen at any time during a game, but they cannot stand in the kitchen and volley the ball. This means that if the ball has bounced, they can stand in the kitchen and hit it.

What is the kitchen in pickleball?

The kitchen is the non-volley zone that is 7 feet from the net on both sides of the net and goes to both side-lines. Players cannot volley the ball while standing in or in line in the kitchen.

Summary Of In The Kitchen Pickleball

It bears repeating: always stay out of the kitchen. Unless you know the ball has already bounced.

The kitchen rule is often misunderstood and one of the most challenging rules to follow in pickleball.

The key to success is continuous practice and vigilance to the rule; this will help you avoid making mistakes that could result in lost games.

You can find the kitchen rule in section 9, Non-Volley Zone Rules of the USAPA (United States of America Pickleball Association) Rule Book if you’re interested in learning more about it as well as other official pickleball rules.