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All racquet sports have their own terms, some of which might sound quite strange, such as the “kitchen” in pickleball.

If you are playing pickleball, then you will hear the kitchen mentioned regularly but it might be confusing to players who never heard of it before.

The kitchen is simply an area of a pickleball court where specific rules apply. In this article, we find out everything you need to know about the kitchen in a pickleball game.

What Is The Kitchen In Pickleball?

The kitchen in a pickleball game is the non-volley zone of a pickleball court where specific rules apply.

These rules define what a play cannot and can do inside this area. As a player, it’s important to understand what you are allowed to do in the kitchen, and what you should avoid.

When it comes to size, the kitchen is roughly seven feet from sideline to sideline and on both sides of the net.

Why Is It Called The Kitchen?

There are a few different theories when it comes to finding out why the kitchen has its own.

Most pickleball fans believe that the term has originated from another sport. This is possible as pickleball combines influences from tennis, ping-pong and badminton.

Sports, such as shuffleboard, also have a kitchen section in their court where players have to stick to certain rules, otherwise they may lose points.

The Rules Of The Kitchen In Pickleball

When a player is in the kitchen area of a pickleball court, then he or she must remember certain rules that apply to this no-volley zone.

No Volleying

One of the most important things to remember about the kitchen is that a player cannot come into contact with the kitchen line or stand in this area while they volley the ball.

If you make contact with any part of the kitchen when the ball is volleyed, then the opponent or opponent team will receive a point.

As the kitchen is right next to the net, it also stops players from standing too close to the net and smashing a ball directly behind the net during a pickleball game.

The kitchen rules are very strict, so if you hit a ball outside of the kitchen but the force propels you back into the kitchen area, then this is still considered a fault.

It’s worth remembering here however that no body part can make contact with the kitchen on the ground, so theoretically you could jump and hit the ball in the air as long as you are behind the line.

Returning Bounce Shots 

A lot of pickleball beginners are very concerned about the kitchen being a dead zone where you aren’t allowed to go.

However, that’s not the case. There are also quite a few things that you are allowed to do when standing in the kitchen.

One of these scenarios is when you hit a ball that has first bounced on your side.

While hitting the ball without it having touched the ground first is a fault in pickleball, you can hit it when it has bounced on your side of the pickleball court.

Many good pickleball players will play in a way with low dink shots into the kitchen to get their opponents to move closer to the net.

You can stand and move around the kitchen as much as you like, as long as you don’t hit the ball midair without it bouncing first.

Get To The Kitchen Line 

It might be tempting for pickleball beginners to avoid the kitchen as much as possible but the kitchen is an important part of a pickleball game.

Once the ball has bounced and you start to exchange groundstrokes with your opponent, you should move closer to the kitchen.

It can be difficult to understand when to move to the kitchen. As a rule of thumb, you should stay near the central position, so you can hit any ball coming your way.

However, you will also need to be prepared to move away from the kitchen line when your opponent starts to hit harder shots. Then, you move further back and play a more defensive game.

Don’t Drop Anything

A lesser known kitchen rue is that you are not allowed to drop anything you are carrying or wearing in the kitchen area. Otherwise, your opponent will receive a point.

This applies to anything you might carry or wear, including a hat, sunglasses or your paddle. 

That’s why, make sure that nothing can accidentally fall out of your pocket when you are playing pickleball.

What Is The Kitchen In Pickleball (1)

Why Is The Kitchen Important In Pickleball?

The kitchen zone is an essential part of a pickleball court and also the game itself. It’s in place to prevent players from standing at the net and hitting any ball that comes their way.

This type of smashing is very popular in tennis where the bigger tennis court is more suited for powerful ball action.

However, this doesn’t work in pickleball because a pickleball court is much smaller.

The kitchen is one of the oldest part of the pickleball rules. It originates from the very first players who would stand by the net and smash the way.

This type of more aggressive game created an unfair advantage, so the inventors of pickleball put certain rules in place to stop players from hitting the ball too close to the net.

Final Thoughts

When beginners start learning more about pickleball, they will find the kitchen rules confusing.

However, once you get a feel for what you can and cannot do in the kitchen, you’ll be able to use it to your advantage.

While the kitchen can be a zone where players make mistakes, it can be part of a strategy for many pickleball players.

One of the most common strategies involving the kitchen is called “toeing the line” where players stand as close to the kitchen line as possible to wait for an incoming shot from the opponent.