How Long Can You Stay In The Kitchen In Pickleball?

A game invented by three dads to relieve their families’ boredom has become the USA’s fastest-growing sport. The game, peculiarly named pickleball, is a mix of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. The pickleball court has a section affectionately called “the kitchen,” which is a non-volley zone. What rules apply to the kitchen, and how long can you stay there?

No rules govern the length of time you can spend in the kitchen in pickleball. But staying in the kitchen too long can limit your ability to reach some shots. It’s a non-volley zone, so the ball must bounce once before you can hit it, and there are rules limiting the type of play allowed there.

The game of pickleball started on an old badminton court on the property of one of the dads who thought up the game, Joel Pritchard. The other two “developers” were family friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum. By 1990 all fifty states were playing pickleball, a game that had started as summertime family entertainment.

How Long Can You Stay In The Kitchen In Pickleball?

You may be wondering what relevance a kitchen has to the sports court. Some theories exist regarding why the original players called it the kitchen, but there is no definite answer. So, for now, we will accept it as the non-volley zone with an odd name.

A pickleball court has the exact dimensions of a badminton court since the game was initially played on one. The pickleball court is 44 feet long by 20 feet wide. The kitchen or non-volley zone is an area extending 7 feet from the net on both sides.

With its odd name, the kitchen has some peculiar rules that differentiate it from other racquet sports. These rules determine when and how long you should stay in the kitchen. While there is no time limit on playing from the kitchen, it’s a good idea to leave as fast as possible, or your opponent could wipe you out with a volley that you would not be able to reach.

The Rules Of The Kitchen

To understand why you should spend limited time in the kitchen, let’s examine the rules that apply to this non-volley zone.

  • The primary rule is that you can’t be in the kitchen or touch the line with any body part when playing a volley shot. Failure to comply earns your opponent a point. This rule motivates players to move out of the kitchen quickly.
  • You are allowed to volley the ball from just behind the line.
  • You may not drop anything in the kitchen during play. This ranges from your sunglasses to your cap to your paddle! Even if your keys or other personal items fall out of your pocket into the kitchen area, your opponent will get the point!
  • You will also lose a point if your momentum pushes you into the kitchen. After you’ve returned a volley to your opponent, entering the kitchen or touching the line after you’ve hit the ball is still considered a fault.
  • Both feet must be outside the kitchen area before you can volley the ball.
  • When playing doubles, your partner may be in the kitchen while you play a volley shot, as long as you don’t touch each other.
  • A ball may not hit you while in the kitchen. It applies to the entire game.

3 Myths About Being In the Kitchen

There could be some confusion around the rules regarding playing in the kitchen. So let’s debunk some of the myths.

  • Myth #1: You must wait until the ball bounces before stepping into the kitchen. The ball does not have to bounce first; you can enter the kitchen whenever you want.
  • Myth #2: You must evacuate the kitchen immediately after playing a shot. You can stay inside the kitchen for any length of time. It may not be helpful, though.
  • Myth #3: Only one player may be in the kitchen at a time. Both partners can play in the kitchen simultaneously, although it may not be a great winning strategy.

Why Is It Called The Kitchen?

The truth is that nobody knows why the non-volley zone is called the kitchen, but some theories do exist.

The first theory is that a game made up by three dads is bound to have quirky terminology: it’s “dad-fun.” To prove this point, consider some other terms used in the game, such as dink shot, dillball, falafel, volley llama, Erne, Bert, and Nasty Nelson!

Another theory is that the term was borrowed from shuffleboard. In this game, the kitchen is an area also known as 10-off, where a person loses ten points if their disc lands in this area. The game of pickleball is a mixture of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, so why not add something from a fourth game?

A third suggestion regarding the name is that it’s linked to the proverb, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

These are only theories, though, and since all of the game inventors have passed away, we will never know the true answer.

The kitchen could have received its name for any weird reason! Joel Pritchard seemed to have a mischievous sense of humor when explaining the reasoning behind the name during an interview. Although he had already told the reporter the origin of the name, he suggested they say it was called after their dog, Pickles! But Pickles only joined the family a few years after the game was born!

Final Points

Nobody knows why the kitchen is called the kitchen. But you can never hit a volley shot from it. You may stay there as long as you please, although it could be detrimental to your game. Your opponent could trick you into hitting a volley shot, which could cost you a point. Finding a position further back on the court is wiser, where you can better reach the oncoming shots.

Pickleball was birthed purely for the purpose of family fun. The quirky dads did their job so well that their made-up game soon became a worldwide sport! While it may not yet be listed as an Olympic sport, it may be accepted one of these fine days!


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