The pickleball kitchen rules state that players cannot volley the ball when their body or equipment touches the kitchen.

This rule seems simple, but the devil is in the details. 

I sacrifice my spare time playing pickleball to read the official rule (the worst decision of my life) and research online.

And put in everything you need to know about the pickleball kitchen rules in this article. 

We will go over every detail, from what a kitchen is and the rules to common fault scenarios. 

Let’s get started. 

Pickleball Terms 

Here is a glossary to better understand the pickleball terms I use in this article.  If you want a more detailed version, check out my complete pickleball terms article.

Volley

A volley is hitting the ball out of the air without letting the ball bounce first.

Non-Volley Zone

Non-volley Zone (NVZ) is used interchangeably for kitchen. It is just the more formal term for kitchen.

What is the Kitchen?

A kitchen, also known as the Non-Volley Zone (NVZ), is the area of both sides of the court that comprises the seven feet bordering the net. 

The Non-Volley Zone covers the full width of the net and extends backward from it for seven feet on either side of the net.

The line marking its location is called the Kitchen line/ NVZ line.

The kitchen also includes the line surrounding it. So if your feet touch the line, you are in the kitchen.

The kitchen is the physical ground that does not include the space above it.

So, if your paddle or hand is on top of the kitchen area in the air, you are not in the kitchen.

What are the Pickleball Kitchen rules?

The pickleball Kitchen rules states that when you are in the Kitchen or NVZ, you cannot volley.

The pickleball kitchen rules are simple, but the complicated part is deciding whether or not you are in the Kitchen.

You may think that as long as both of your feet aren’t stepping on the kitchen when hitting the ball, then you are fine.

But that is not the case. 

Here are the things you need to know to not violate the pickleball kitchen rules:

Anything you are in contact with cannot touch the kitchen.

This includes your body and equipment, including your paddle, hat, sunglasses, and even your partner.

Yes, it may sound ridiculous, but if you are touching your partner, he cannot be in the kitchen when you want to volley.

The Kitchen Line is Part of the Kitchen

You cannot touch any of the lines, including the sidelines of the kitchen, when you want to volley.

The pickleball kitchen rules apply to the swing, the follow-through, and the momentum of a volley

A volley consists of three parts: a swing, a follow-through, and momentum.

Swing

Follow through 

In all three parts of the motion, your body or equipment cannot touch the kitchen area.

For example, if you perform a low volley, and your paddle touches the kitchen ground, it is a fault.

What is momentum?

According to USA Pickleball on momentum and pickleball kitchen rules:

Rule 3.A.20. – Momentum is a property of a body in motion, such as a player executing a volley, that causes the player to continue in motion after contacting the ball. The act of volleying produces momentum that ends when the player regains balance and control of their motion or stops moving toward the non-volley zone.

Imagine you are in the back of the field, and the ball drops near the net; you will need to run forward to hit the ball. And after hitting the ball, your body will not just stop, but you will continue to run forward for a few steps. This is forward momentum. It is a fault if your body or equipment touches the kitchen during these steps before you stop completely. 

So when does momentum end? 

You can only enter the kitchen again after a volley when your body has no momentum toward the kitchen. For example, your body has fully stopped, or you change direction as you step away from the kitchen. 

Why Is There a Non-Volley Zone In Pickleball?

The kitchen exists to prevent people from camping near the net and volleying every ball. Pickleball will become boring and require no tactics at all. 

How are things different when in a double game

colorful action image of two couples playing pickleball in a mixed doubles match

In a double game, four things are different about the pickleball kitchen rule. 

  1. If you touch your partner and your partner is in the kitchen, then you cannot volley.
  1. If you are rushing forward after a volley and are going to land in the kitchen because of momentum, your partner can catch you and prevent you from entering the kitchen. 
  1. If you knock off your partner’s paddle or any equipment and it falls into the kitchen when you volley, it is a fault. 
  1. If you run into your partner and he pushes you to touch the kitchen, then it’s a fault.

How are things different when I use a wheelchair

Wheelchair pickleball kitchen rules allow players to volley the ball with their front wheels on or inside the Kitchen line. But if the rear wheels touch the line and they volley the ball, it’s a fault.

The common fault situations

These are the most common pickleball kitchen rule violation scenario. Keep these in mind so you don’t lose points mindlessly. 

1. You run outside the court to volley a ball and step on the kitchen, but when you volley the ball, not both of your feet are on the area outside the kitchen. 

2. You run toward the net to volley, and the momentum causes you to rush forward after hitting the ball, and you touch the kitchen. 

3. You perform a low volley, and your paddle hits the kitchen ground.

4. You step on the kitchen line when volleying.

5. You jump out of the kitchen to volley a ball in the air. Even if you land outside the kitchen, it’s still a fault. 

6. You jump out of the kitchen to volley a ball while only one of your feet is on the area outside the kitchen. The other one is still in the air or inside the kitchen. 

Should I stand far away from the kitchen if the kitchen to prevent violating the pickleball kitchen rules?

Even if there is a chance of violating the pickleball kitchen rules when you stand near the kitchen, you should still stand closely, about a few inches behind the kitchen line.

The position is best for most scenarios because you can smash the ball more easily when you are close to the net. Remember, most points are won in the kitchen line. If you are a beginner, you need to get used to standing close to the non-volley zone. 

What’s Next?

I hope you understand the kitchen rules now. Check out my pickleball rules for a detailed explanation of the rules you want to know as a pickler.

FAQ about the pickleball kitchen rules 

When can I enter the kitchen?

You can enter the kitchen anytime you want. You just cannot volley. 

One thing to notice here is if you have just volleyed a ball, you cannot enter the kitchen until your momentum toward the kitchen disappears, i.e., your body changes direction or stops completely. 

Does Erne violate the kitchen rule?

No. If you perform Erne correctly, you never touch the kitchen. 

What can I do in the kitchen? 

You can do anything that is allowed in a game except volleying. 

When I serve, can the ball hit the kitchen line? 

No, it would count as a fault because the kitchen line is part of the kitchen.

When could I again hit a volley if I were in the Kitchen?

You can only hit a volley again when both feet are outside the non-volley zone. 

If the momentum of a volley causes me to touch the kitchen after the ball is dead, is it a fault

Yes, it is still a fault.  Because the momentum started before the ball died, you will still lose a point even if you touch the kitchen after the ball is dead. 

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