Come Into the Kitchen [Pretty Much] Anytime – Just Don’t Volley While in There!

This post has been updated in 2024 according to the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024).

One of the primary differences between tennis and pickleball is that, unlike in tennis, in pickleball, there is a non-volley zone (most often referred to as a kitchen) in which players cannot volley.

It’s the non-volley zone that creates strategic opportunities that are not available in tennis. While “beginners” are unlikely to utilize this area to its fullest potential, advanced-level players are likely to use this area to their strategic advantage.

What is the Kitchen?

The Kitchen is simply the two-dimensional area on the pickleball court (7 feet. x 20 feet) bound by the two sidelines (including the lines), the non-volley line (including the line) and the net.

Pickleball court dimensions

When Can I Enter the Kitchen?

You can enter the Kitchen at any time as long as you don’t hit a volley while in there. The kitchen is NOT a non-come-in-here zone. It’s a non-volley zone. A volley is defined as hitting the ball out of the air before it bounces.

What if my momentum carries me into the Kitchen?

Rule 9.C. and 9.C.1 of the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook states the following:

Rule #9.C.

During the act of volleying, it is a fault if the volleying player’s momentum causes the player to contact anything that is touching the non-volley zone, including the player’s partner.

USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024)

Rule #9.C.1

It is a fault even if the ball becomes dead before the player contacts the non-volley zone.

USA Pickleball Official Rulebook (2024)

That very last line that says “it is a fault even if the ball becomes dead before the player contacts the non-volley zone” was not intuitive to me when I first picked up the game. I assumed that once the ball is dead (bounces twice, for example) that it didn’t matter if my momentum subsequently carried me into the Kitchen.

That’s not correct, however. Momentum (stopping your body’s forward motion and establishing full control) must be stopped outside of the kitchen, regardless of what has happened to the ball.

Need More Pickleball Rules Clarifications & Interpretations?

Please reference our pickleball rules page and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you receive additional pickleball rules clarifications and interpretations for many of the common — and not-so-common — scenarios that happen on the pickleball courts. By subscribing to the newsletter you will also receive pickleball tips, strategies, tournament recaps, and more.

For more rules clarification be sure to check out our pickleball rules page.

Coach Todd
About Todd

Todd is the talent behind PickleballMAX. He knows pickleball and demonstrates it on the court as a 4.5 – 5.0 player. In addition to creating content and running the PickleballMAX business, Todd is IPTPA Level II certified. As an instructor at the Ohio Pickleball Academy, he instructs students and runs adult and youth clinics. He also manages tournament desks throughout the tri state for tournaments ranging from 100-500 participants.

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2 Comments

  1. After hitting a groundstroke from the kitchen, can you remain in the kitchen and return a second shot from the kitchen if it bounces?

    1. Yes, you can remain in the kitchen as long as you don’t volley (hit the ball out of the air) while you’re in there. Letting the ball bounce and then hitting it is fine.

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