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What is "the Kitchen" in Pickleball?

December 20, 2022
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Pickleball is known for some unique words. The name of the game itself isn’t exempt from this. As you get into the sport, you may be puzzled by words like dink, lob, and kitchen. Don’t worry about that last term. By the end of this post, the only “cooking” you're going to do is scramble your opponents in the competition. So, what is “the kitchen?” We’re going to inspect this term–what it means and how you can play a better game knowing the ins and outs of this crucial area on the court.

What is the ‘Kitchen’ in Pickleball?

On a pickleball court, there is a seven-foot non-volley zone that extends from the net on both sides of the court. The term “kitchen” refers to this non-volley zone.

Pickleball court

Rules for "the Kitchen":

Players cannot volley the ball while in the kitchen. This rule prevents hard hits from within that zone.

A fault will be called on a player who steps into the kitchen while volleying, even on the line. The same applies for a player whose momentum carries them (including either clothing or paddle) into any part of the non-volley zone.

Players are allowed in the kitchen when they are not volleying. Keep in mind, though, that the ball can be hit while the player is in the non-volley zone, but only when it’s being played off a bounce.

Pickleball kitchen strategy:

A majority of the points won in a pickleball game happen when players are positioned right behind the kitchen line. Because of this, good positioning is generally right behind that line. It's a good strategy for players to make their way toward that line following the serve.

When positioned at the kitchen line, dink shots help keep the ball low. Dink shots are soft, short hits into your opponent’s non-volley zone. This maneuver makes it harder for your opponents to get away with a hard return hit. 

Sources: USA Pickleball (

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