What Can You Not Do In The Kitchen In Pickleball?

So you’re playing a great game of pickleball, and you’re winning! That is until you step over the line into the kitchen during a volley serve, and the referee declares a fault. Understanding the kitchen rules is essential to mastering pickleball, but what is considered a fault? And when can you hit a ball from this zone?

In pickleball, the kitchen refers to the non-volley zone because players cannot hit a ball that hasn’t bounced while in this area. Players cannot hit a volley shot if they’re standing in this zone, move into it during volleying, or if they don’t step out of the zone before hitting the ball.

Suppose you’re just beginning to familiarize yourself with the official rules of pickleball. In that case, it may be worth your while to get acquainted with the trickier rules of the non-volley zone or the ‘kitchen.’ Knowing these rules could make or break your game. Luckily, our ultimate beginner’s guide on what you can’t do in the kitchen should help to get you started.

The Rules Of The Kitchen In Pickleball

While most pickleball players have no clue where the non-volley zone got its nickname, they’re wise enough to avoid stepping into the kitchen when they’re volleying! If you’re a newbie to the world of pickleball, knowing the ins and outs of the kitchen rules can either make for a better playing style and technique or secure even more victories.

What Is The Kitchen?

One of the simplest mistakes that beginner pickleball players make is forgetting about the kitchen. The kitchen refers to the non-volley or no-volley zone of the court. This zone is the seven-foot space on either side of the net. The space is also clearly demarcated by solid white lines, making it easy for players and spectators to see during a match.

Although many avid pickleball players may think they know their way around the court, they often find themselves at fault during a match for ignoring the kitchen rules. This is because they may not realize that the solid 2-inch link that demarcates the non-volley zone is also a part of the kitchen. So not only do the rules apply to the space within the line, but they apply to the kitchen line as well.

While you can theoretically play your entire game while standing in the non-volley zone, this practice can lead to blunders and unintentional faults. So, before you understand what you can do in the kitchen, you’ll need to know more about what you must avoid when it comes to this important space.

What Can’t You Do In The Kitchen?

When you’re playing a riveting game of pickleball, it’s easy to lose track of your movements or get so caught up in the ball that you forget to watch your feet. But ignoring your foot placement can cause you to wander too far into the non-valley zone and get a fault.

As a beginner – or if you’re trying to brush up on your technique – you may want to start by getting used to the game’s rules. And that includes knowing when you need to stay out of the kitchen.

Firstly, you should never be standing in the kitchen while volleying. A volleyed shot is when a player hits the ball before it bounces. In other words, it’s known as volleying if the ball hasn’t bounced before you hit it back to your opponent.

However, if the ball bounces before you hit it back, you can make your shot from anywhere on the court – including the kitchen! The most important distinction between being able to hit the ball when you’re in the non-volley zone is whether it has bounced. If it bounces, you’re safe. But it will be considered a fault when you hit it from this zone before it’s had a chance to touch the court.

The kitchen rule also applies to accidental movements that cause you to step onto or over the kitchen line. So, if you’re running to make a volley shot and your foot crosses the line, the referee may call a fault.

You can avoid making this easy mistake by coordinating your movements and trying to stop your momentum before it pulls you over the line. By spreading your legs or digging your heels downward, you can try to stop yourself from unintentionally crossing into the non-volley zone.

While it may take some practice to get your technique right, knowing how to move when you’re volleying is invaluable. When you’re not actively volleying, you can play in any open area of the court. Similarly, you can keep the game going and dodge a fault if you can gain control of your movement and keep your eye on the kitchen line at all times.

Lastly, you may be at fault if you were in the kitchen before you volleyed the ball. For example, if your foot is over the kitchen line and you volley it as you hit the ball, it can be considered a fault.

However, it will only be a fault if you have not yet put your foot firmly back onto the court. If you are in the kitchen at the time of a volley serve and you manage to get your feet back into the safe zone before you hit the ball, it won’t be a fault.

The Three Faults Of The Non-Volley Zone

The kitchen rules in pickleball are relatively easy to understand. However, it may take some time and practice to get used to maneuvering your way across the court during a volley to avoid a fault.

To summarize the three ‘don’ts’ of the kitchen in pickleball, we’ve put together a small table on what is considered a fault and how you can avoid these common mistakes.

FaultWhat to do
Standing in the kitchen during volleyingMake sure to keep behind the 2-inch white line that demarcates the kitchen or non-volley zone before hitting the ball
Accidentally running over the lineTry to stop your momentum before you move over the line by spreading your feet or planting them firmly on the ground
Standing in the kitchen before hitting a volley shotMove your foot back into the safe zone and ensure both feet are on the court before you hit the ball


Pickleball is an easy sport to get the hang of. But even the most seasoned pickleball players may struggle to understand what is – and what isn’t – considered a fault in the kitchen or the non-volley zone. Luckily, with our cheat sheet on how to avoid these faults, you’ll be a pro pickleball player in no time. 


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