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What Is the Kitchen in Pickleball? Why Called the Kitchen?

Pickleball court with official dimensions, top view.

If you have an interest in pickleball, you may want to know what certain terms mean, such as kitchen. Well, the kitchen is the same term as the ‘no volley zone.’ It is the area that sits between the line of the court and the next.

It is the closest point to the next, which is about 7 feet in distance. While the kitchen is called the ‘no volley zone,’ the line is known as the ‘volley-free zone’ and a considerable part of the ‘no volley zone.’

The Players

The young man and woman playing pickleball.

For people who haven’t tried any sport that requires a racket, volley is the same as hitting the ball so it goes up in the air and bounces as it comes down. The kitchen area has its own rule, which is simple. Players are not allowed to get in or stay in the ‘no volley zone’ while there is a volley and whether it is during the volley or after the volley.

But, if there is a volley, players are allowed to enter the kitchen area. If a player hits the ball while inside the kitchen area, they will be called for a foul.

The Examples

Active retired women playing pickleball outdoors.

Let’s look at a few examples of play while in the kitchen area. First, players have to wait until the ball bounces prior to entering the kitchen area. If a player enters the kitchen area after they hit the ball, no matter they type of shot made, the player will be called for committing a foul.

Let’s say the ball bounces and goes out of the kitchen area, it cannot return to the kitchen area and be called a part of the player’s shot.

The Questions

To really understand the kitchen area and when you can find yourself in it is to consider these questions:

  • Was the ball volleyed by me or the other player? If you answered no to this question, you have no additional questions to ask and you have not violated the rules because there must be a volley in order to experience a miss and no volley means no fault. If the answer was yes, then continue with the next question.
  • During the volley, did you enter the no volley zone? If the answer is no, then it is time to continue with the game. If the answer is yes, then you have failed. You have to focus on the ball and when it bounces.

The Strategy

Cheerful man playing pickleball in court.

Now you know the rules of the ‘no volley zone’ or kitchen area, let’s switch gears to talk about the ideal strategy to use. To start, the game of pickleball is won by players on the kitchen area line. In fact, the ideal spot to be positioned while playing pickleball is on the kitchen area line.

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You are probably not going to win the game if you play beyond the line or from the baseline of the kitchen area.

Being on the Line

The young man and woman playing pickleball.

Once you get to understand the game, you will see the sense in all this. You will get to understand reasons why a player would stand on the line of the kitchen area. It is all about the strategy of playing the game.

Most players believe that the kitchen area is the ideal place to be while playing, even though they cannot always be in that area.

The Back Side

Adult man and woman playing pickleball.

You can get to the kitchen area from the back side. In fact, that is the easiest way to get to the back side or return side. If you are not serving, then you have to stay in a position.

If you are the server, then your strategy is to get to the no volley or kitchen area line after you have served the ball. When you return serve, you should instantly move to the no volley line. Players should begin the game, focusing on the no volley line and approaching it every time they hit a return.

The Serving Side

A man is ready to serve the ball.

Remember that the return side and serve side are different game strategies. The team that is serving has different challenges than the team on the return side. The team that is serving may have a disadvantage at the beginning of the rally.

They should play the game from above the no volley line, no matter the side of the court they are positioned.


As you continue to play pickleball, it is important to pay attention to the kitchen area or no volley zone. This is essential if you want to improve your game and become a winner. Continue to develop the ideal strategies that work for you and your playing partner.