Close up of a pickleball kitchen zone for a blog on pickleball kitchen rules

Master Pickleball Kitchen Rules to Unlock Your Potential!

Pickleball kitchen rules are an important part of the game. By understanding the rules of this non-volley zone, you can leverage it to gain a strategic advantage and develop your skill set.

In this blog post, we will discuss what exactly makes up the kitchen or non-volley zone, go over some key rules to remember while playing there, offer helpful strategies for making use of it during games, and finally look at common mistakes players make when trying to navigate their way around it.

Let’s get started and break down the non-volley zone on a pickleball court!

What is the Non-Volley Zone in Pickleball?

The non-volley zone, also known as the “kitchen” in pickleball, is an area of the pickleball court that players must stay out of when they hit a volley. The kitchen measures 7 feet from either side of the net and extends all the way to each sideline, making it 20 feet wide.

Players may not hit a volley while standing in the kitchen zone. This rule applies to both singles and doubles play.

The purpose behind having these non-volley zone rules on a pickleball court is twofold: first, to create more strategic depth in gameplay by forcing players away from strictly net-side rallies; second, to allow room for the ball to land when your opponent is serving.

Knowing these rules and staying aware of where everyone is standing relative to each other during rallies can help keep games safe, competitive, and enjoyable for all participants involved.

Understanding the non-volley zone in pickleball is essential for pickleball players of all levels.

Let’s examine the regulations that apply to the pickleball non-volley zone.

Key Takeaway: The pickleball kitchen is a 20-foot wide and 7-foot deep zone immediately parallel to the net. This area helps to add strategic depth to gameplay – so knowing these boundaries can keep games safe, fun, and challenging for everyone involved.

Rules for Playing in the Non-Volley Zone

The non-volley zone is a special area of the court in pickleball that has its own set of rules.

If any part of a player’s body or equipment touches the kitchen during a volley shot attempt then they have committed what is known as a fault which results in a loss of point as well. The same goes for hitting a volley where your momentum carries you into any part of the kitchen, it’s considered a fault.


The serving team has to give special consideration to the non-volley zone as well.

During a pickleball serve, a player must stay behind the baseline and their serve cannot land in the non-volley zone or hit the non-volley zone line. The serve must land in the crosscourt service box, otherwise it’s considered a fault.

I’ve also got a post about pickleball serving rules if you’d like to learn more.


The receiving team may stand anywhere on their side of the court when returning serves but should avoid entering the kitchen until after the serve.

While it’s not illegal for the receiving player to be standing in the kitchen, strategically it wouldn’t make sense. The reason is, when receiving a serve you must let the ball bounce first before returning it.


You cannot hit a volley while in the kitchen (including both singles and doubles play). If a player does hit a volley within the kitchen zone then it will be considered a fault resulting in either a loss of serve or a point awarded to their opponent(s).


Groundstrokes are just like they sound, making sure the ball bounces on the ground before hitting it back to your opponents court. These would be the only types of shots that you can make while standing in the non-volley zone, they are perfectly legal!

Rules Summary

In summary, there are some important rules to remember when playing in pickleball’s non-volley zone; namely, you cannot volley the ball within 7 feet from either side of the net. Keep these tips handy next time you step foot onto your local pickleball courts for an enjoyable game.

The rules for playing in the non-volley zone are essential to understand if you want to become a successful pickleball player. Examining tactics to excel in the non-volley zone is key for pickleball success.

If you’d like to read a little more about pickleball rules then check out the USA Pickleball website!

Key Takeaway: In pickleball, the kitchen is a non-volley zone that extends 7 feet from either side of the net. When serving, a player must land their shot beyond the non-volley zone line. Furthermore, volleys cannot be hit while standing in the non-volley zone but groundstrokes can be played inside this area for legal play in both singles and doubles matches.

Strategies for Playing in the Non-Volley Zone

Know the Rules

The non-volley zone is a 7-foot area at the net that players are not allowed to volley from. This rule helps prevent players from having an unfair advantage by volleying close to the net, as it can be difficult for opponents to return shots in this position.

It’s important to know where the non-volley zone line is and respect it during play, otherwise you may find yourself giving away points unnecessarily.

Utilize Drop Shots

Drop shots are one of the most effective strategies when playing in the non-volley zone. Powerful shots force your opponent back towards their baseline and create openings for you at the net to hit these soft, low shots.

When hitting drop shots it’s all about placement. You could even add a little spin to make it more challenging for your opponent.

Keep Your Opponent Guessing

When playing in the non-volley zone mix up your shot selection and keep your opponent guessing what kind of shot will come next – a deep drive, dink, groundstroke, volley, overhead smash, backhand spin, or maybe a lob?

Keeping your opponent off balance gives you more time and space to get into position for an attack at the net after each shot lands on their side of the court.

Move Quickly After Each Shot

Speed is key when playing in this area; getting back into position quickly after each groundstroke from the kitchen allows you to get into position before your opponent hits the ball back. This is a good way to keep the pressure on your opponent. 

Strategy Summary

When attacking in the non-volley zone, focus on employing quick drop shots or angled volleys to keep your opponent off-balance. Look for openings where you can launch an unexpected offensive and catch them unaware.

Use this strategy sparingly though, because if you don’t switch up the pace and location of your shots then it won’t be very challenging for your opponent.

By following the strategies for playing in or hitting into the non-volley zone, players can take their pickleball game to a whole new level. Taking advantage of this important part of the court is essential for success and mastering these skills will provide an edge over opponents.

Also, don’t forget the importance of a playing with a pickleball paddle that you’re comfortable with. I’ve got another post on the top pickleball paddles if you’d like some more info!

Key Takeaway: Playing in the non-volley zone requires quick reflexes and a good understanding of drop shots. Utilizing these strategies to keep your opponent guessing, while moving quickly after each shot, will give you an edge at the net. To master this area, practice makes perfect.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Near the Non-Volley Zone

As we’ve discussed, a key kitchen rule for beginners to be mindful of is volleying the ball while touching any part of the non-volley zone. This rule can be tricky for some players. 

I remember the first few times that I played pickleball. My eyes lit up when I saw a nice high lob come in from the team we were playing. I completely forgot about the non-volley zone and went in for a powerful smash at the net.

So it’s important to know what mistakes you should avoid when playing near this area. To ensure a successful game, it is important to be aware of and avoid the common mistakes that can occur when playing near the non-volley zone.

Not Remembering Where the Kitchen Is

The kitchen line marks the boundary between what’s considered the main court and the non-volley zone. Knowing exactly where this line is, and keeping track of where you are on the court, will help you stay within your limits and not make any accidental violations.

Failing to Anticipate Return Shots

When playing near net side areas like the non-volley zone players must pay attention and anticipate their opponent’s next move so they can react accordingly – whether by moving out wide or using defensive strokes such as drop shots/lobs etc… This will help them stay one step ahead during rallies.

Common Mistakes Summary

Overall, understanding these basic rules and avoiding common mistakes when playing near net side areas like the non-volley zones will make you much more comfortable and competitive.

Being aware of the kitchen line, not camping out too close to the net, and anticipating return shots coming back from opponents are all essential components for successful pickleball gameplay.

Being aware of the common mistakes to avoid when playing in the non-volley zone can help you become a better pickleball player. Now let’s explore some frequently asked questions about the kitchen and how it applies to this sport.

Key Takeaway: In pickleball, it’s essential to remember the boundaries of the non-volley zone and avoid common mistakes such as camping out too close to the net or forgetting to allow the ball to bounce in the non-volley zone first. Anticipating your opponent’s next move and adhering to the regulations will aid in keeping you ahead of the competition and guarantee a competitive game.

Pickleball Kitchen FAQ

When can you step into the kitchen in pickleball?

You can step into the kitchen in pickleball at any time. However, once you step into the kitchen, you cannot hit the ball out of the air (volley) unless you allow the ball to bounce first (groundstroke).

Can you hit the ball in the kitchen?

Yes, you can hit the ball in the kitchen as long as it has already landed in the kitchen. No volleys are allowed in the kitchen only groundstrokes.

Can a pickleball serve return land in the kitchen?

Yes, the return of a serve can land in the kitchen or non-volley zone. It’s only the serve itself that cannot land in the non-volley zone or hit the kitchen line.

Can a ball ever land in the non-volley zone?

Yes, a ball can land in the non-volley zone, as long as it’s not a serve. A serve that lands in your opponent’s kitchen is considered a fault.

Can I stand in the kitchen in pickleball?

Yes, you can stand in the kitchen in pickleball as much or as long as you want. You just cannot hit any volleys from the kitchen or non-volley zone. You must allow the ball to land first.

However, you should probably avoid lingering in the kitchen longer than necessary and only enter it when it is necessary to hit a strategic shot.


By following the pickleball kitchen rules, you can become a more strategic and effective player. Executing legal shots in the non-volley zone requires attentiveness and agility. Nevertheless, if done right, it can give you an advantage over your opponents.

With practice and dedication, mastering this part of the game will help improve your overall performance on the court. So make sure to remember these important pickleball kitchen rules!

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