The Pickleball Kitchen: What Is It And Why Is It Called The Kitchen??

Many sports have strange terminology that may not be widely understood by others, and pickleball is no exception. Pickleballers everywhere can be heard referring to “the kitchen” while playing. This term can be a cause for confusion among some players who have never heard it. The kitchen is simply another word for the non-volley zone on either side of the net. Here is some key information regarding this area.

No Volleying True to its name, you cannot hit any volleys while standing in this area or it is considered a fault. Remember a "volley" is simply a ball hit out of the air that hasn't bounced. The line that marks the non-volley zone is also considered a part of the zone so be sure not to volley if your foot is on the line or if your momentum is going to carry you into the zone right after hitting. For many first-timers, it is tempting to run all the way up to the net and smash a nice and high shot, but the kitchen was created to prevent excessive smashing. And recall that it's a fault even if you hit a volley outside the kitchen but your momentum carries you into the kitchen. The "volley" is considered to be the volley, the follow through, and any momentum resulting from the shot. 

Returning Bounce Shots You are allowed to hit a ball in the kitchen if it has first bounced on your side of the court. Many skilled pickleballers are experts at delivering low dink shots into the kitchen to draw their opponents too close to the net. If you are going to step into the area to return a shot, try to get back into a ready position outside of the kitchen right away or your opponent will take advantage of your poor position. So again, when can you enter the kitchen? Anytime so long as you do not hit a volley while in this part of the court. 

Get To The Kitchen Line After exchanging groundstrokes, it is smart to try and move up to the kitchen line as soon as possible. When you see the opportunity, move up to just behind the line and get a good split step in a central position so you’re ready for anything to come your way. If your opponent moves up, try to keep them on their toes with cross-court and low bouncing dink shots. To learn more about dinking, read our article here.

Why is it called "The Kitchen" | Shuffleboard Origins Although nobody is completely sure where the term "kitchen" originated, there are theories that the term was borrowed from the game of shuffleboard. In shuffleboard, the kitchen is the area behind the primary scoring zones called the “10-off” area, which deducts ten points if landed in. Similar to standing in the kitchen in pickleball, you do not want to land in the shuffleboard kitchen.

We hope that is a helpful lesson on the kitchen in pickleball. All of the best pickleball players are extremely comfortable with their toes right up to the no volley zone line, so it is important to focus on this area of your game to improve your play. Although the kitchen is one element of pickleball that makes it more challenging, it makes the game a lot of fun once you can get into long dinking rallies. Have you heard other theories as to where the name originated? Let us know if so!


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