What is “the Kitchen?”

Pickleball is known for some unique words. The name of the game itself isn’t exempt from this. As you start getting into the sport, you may be puzzled by words like dink, lob, and kitchen. Don’t associate this last word with actual cooking. But, if playing the game right, the only cooking you should be doing is scrambling your opponents in the competition. So, what is “the kitchen?” We’re going to take a closer look at 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.

“The Kitchen”

On a Pickleball court, there is a seven-foot non-volley zone in front of 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 who’s 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.

Things to note and 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 good strategy for players to make their way towards that line following the serve.

When positioned at “the kitchen” line, dink shots are a good strategy to help keep the ball low. Dink shots are a soft, short hit 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 (usapickleball.org)

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