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Does Pickleball Have a No Man’s Land?

Pickleball and the shadow of the net.

Do you think that learning to play pickleball presents new and exciting opportunities for you if only you knew all the terms related to pickleball? You want to know how to maximize winning points and winning pickleball games. You look forward to making new friends and enjoying the sport while benefiting from the exercise involved when playing pickleball.

The one thing holding you back from learning pickleball or improving your game is that you do not have an understanding of the terms related to the game or the areas of the pickleball court. Some terms that you hear in pickleball, including those related to the areas of the court, have more than one name. How can you ever keep up to become a pickleball expert or tournament champion?

Okay, maybe you just want the “neighborhood pickleball champ” title. You still need to know the terms, such as dink, lob, banger, drop shot, volley, kitchen, transition zone, and no man’s land.

Is there really a no man’s land in pickleball? Does it have another name? Do you think that no man’s land sounds like a dreaded space to avoid at all costs?

The Pickleball Court

A pickleball court game scheme different perspective top, side, isometric view in flat line color.

Pickleball game rules are not the only regulations. Some regulations cover equipment used for pickleball, while others cover the pickleball court. The USA Pickleball Rulebook provides the rules for playing pickleball. It also covers tournament policies, pickleball equipment, and the pickleball court.

Players, whether playing in a singles pickleball game, a doubles pickleball game, or during tournaments, all play pickleball on a court that measures 20’ x 44’ with a modified tennis net. The court is divided into sections or areas that include “right/even and left/odd service courts and non-volley zones.” Pickleball court measurements “shall be made to the outside of the perimeter and non-volley zone lines.”

The rules indicate that the court lines should be two inches wide, and “the same color, clearly contrasting with the color of the playing surface.”

USA Pickleball explains that although the rules indicate that “a total playing surface” measuring 30’x 60’ is the requirement, a total playing size of 34’ x 64’ is the preferred size. The court size is the same for both indoor and outdoor pickleball courts. The Rules, Section 2B Lines and Areas, explain specific lines and areas on a standard pickleball court.

These lines and areas include baselines, sidelines, the non-volley zone (NVZ), service court, center line, right/even court, and left/odd court. Where is No Man’s Land? Is it real or made up by some pickleball player that had a bad day on the pickleball court?

What is the No Man’s Land in Pickleball?

Close-up of a pickle ball court.

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The non-volley zone is not the only area of the court that has another name. Many, okay most, pickleball players know the non-volley zone by “the kitchen.” The area extends seven feet on either side of the net.

It goes out to the sidelines. The rules require that all volleys are to be initiated outside the non-volley zone. Pickleball Rush refers to the non-volley zone as “kind of like” a no man’s land.

Yet, the non-volley zone is not the actual no man’s land. The no man’s land in pickleball is named for another area. The Transition Area is an area also called No Man’s Land.

Look at a pickleball court. No man’s land is the area of the court located between the baseline and the non-volley zone, or kitchen. Racquet Sports World helps people visualize the area by explaining that it is “counted as the rectangular box formed from joining the imaginary lines” a couple feet behind the kitchen, and in front of the baseline, and the sidelines of the pickleball court.

Many pickleball players consider the no man’s land area as one of the most difficult places to be when on the pickleball court.

Why is the Transition Zone Known as No Man’s Land?

Digging deep for a low pickleball return by a professional pickle.

No man’s land admittedly sounds like something out of a science fiction novel. Go to no man’s land and dread awaits you. Step into the Transition Zone and play pickleball in that area, and you are indeed likely to discover why players think of it as a dreaded area.

Once you learn the risks associated with no man’s land, make sure that you avoid four-letter words, phrases or hand gestures. Section 3.A.44 – Profanity of The Rules prohibit anything considered inappropriate in “polite company” or around children. A major reason that the Transition Zone is considered “No man’s land” is because it is difficult to win points if you play in that area.

Why is it so difficult to win points here? The reason is because your opponents are able to hit the ball down towards your feet. The low shots hit at your feet when you are in no man’s land are difficult for you to return because you have to try to go low and then hit up on the ball.

The fact that you hit up likely results in a put away shot for your pickleball opponents. Think about the difficulty of trying to return a shot hit towards your feet and you are likely running at the same time.

Reasons to Avoid No Man’s Land

The difficulty associated with trying to return a ball hit towards your feet is not the only reason to avoid being in no man’s land. You are vulnerable to cross-court dinks when you are in the no man’s land area. Pickleball Kitchen presents a diagram to show the vulnerability that exists when you stand in the Transition Zone and your opponent hits a cross-court dink.

Standing in the no man’s land area is a common mistake for beginner pickleball players. It is important to quickly transition to the kitchen from the baseline for the start of a rally. You win the majority of rallies or points when you play in the non-volley zone or “kitchen.”

The Pickler warns that getting caught in no man’s land results in “a lot of lost opportunities.”

Caught in No Man’s Land

Woman holds her pickleball paddle ready for a volley.

What do you do if you find yourself caught in no man’s land? You make the most of it and use it to your advantage. Beginner players, and experienced players who want to turn the dread of finding themselves caught in no man’s land will likely benefit from including hitting from the Transition Zone in their pickleball drills.

Turn it into an actual opportunity rather than a missed opportunity. Bend your knees and go low as you anticipate your opponent’s effort to hit the pickleball down at your feet. Preparing for your opponent helps with your defense and your reset skills.

Stay under control as you quickly work your way to the kitchen. Use control and avoid moving wildly into the non-volley zone. Do not worry if you find yourself having to split step or split stop while still in no man’s land.

Stay calm and move in under control to avoid common errors made in the Transition Zone. Keep your paddle in the right position. Make sure that it is above your waist and in front of your body.

Keep a loose grip on the paddle. Do not return your opponent’s aggressive shot down at your feet with another aggressive shot. Master the no man’s land area during practice and drills.

You learn better control, strategies for when you find yourself in no man’s land, and learn how to take advantage of the space on a pickleball court.