Are you a fan of net or racket sports and looking to take on a new challenge? Then pickleball might be the sport for you. It combines tennis and pingpong to create a low-impact game for all to enjoy. Despite its simple rules, there is one part of the court that even the most experienced pickleball players fear — the non-volley zone, or kitchen!
Figuring out the subtleties of this area is important for old and new players who want to focus on skill improvement.
What Is the Pickleball Kitchen?
Understanding the rules of the kitchen is essential for making the most out of your pickleball game. Once you know the do's and don'ts, you can avoid committing any faults and come up with more strategies to win.
The official name of the kitchen is the non-volley zone. It is a 7-foot zone on each side of the net in the middle of the pickleball court. Many players assume that they cannot step into the non-volley zone at all. However, as the name suggests, the only thing you cannot do in the non-volley zone is volley. A volley refers to a player hitting the ball without it first bouncing off the ground. If you hit a volley while in the kitchen, it is an automatic fault.
What's the Point of the Kitchen, Anyway?
Did you know pickleball is the only sport with a non-volley zone rule? It exists because when players hit the ball from too close to the net, they can send it downward or out of bounds, which makes the game impossible to play. When used correctly, however, the non-volley zone also adds a challenging element to an otherwise simple game, making the zone a fantastic place to show off your skills. It takes control and precision for a player to effectively use the kitchen to their advantage.
Pickleball Rules for Stepping Into the Kitchen
You can find the specific non-volley zone rules in the pickleball rulebook. Section 9 lists all the rules from A to H that all pickleball players must adhere to. Take a look at the kitchen rules and stay safe during your next game:
- Initiate all volleys outside of the non-volley zone.
- It is a fault if your body, your clothing or your paddle touches the non-volley zone during a volley.
- It is a fault if your momentum or partner causes you to enter the non-volley zone.
- You can only volley a ball if both of your feet are out of the non-volley zone.
- You can enter the non-volley zone — just not while volleying.
- If a ball bounces in the non-volley zone first, you can volley the ball from the kitchen.
- You can stay in a non-volley zone to return a bounced ball.
- There is no violation if you return a ball while your partner stands in the non-volley zone.
A dink is a soft shot technique. This soft shot allows the ball to fall into your opponent's non-volley zone. This slows the game's pace and makes it more difficult for an opponent to return the ball. Your opponent could end up volleying the ball while in the kitchen or hitting it out of bounds. It is difficult to return a dink shot, making this an effective strategy to score points and win the game.
Top Techniques for Executing Successful Dinks
Change up your game by adding dink shots. If you aren't sure how to use this technique, take a look at these tips:
Get into position: Get into an athletic stance. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, planted firmly on the ground. This will prepare you for the dink.
Watch the ball: It is easy to miss the ball if you do not watch it.
Be patient: Choose a moment when your opponent is hitting the ball using full force, leaving them unable to return a soft shot.
Hold the line: Stand closer to the non-volley zone line to hit a successful dink.
Have proper footwork: While you hold the line, move around and slide your feet to hit a dink.
Work with your partner: If you are playing a doubles game, communicate with your partner to avoid any misses or clashes during the game.
Improving Your Play in the Non-Volley Zone: Practice Drills
Pickleball practice drills are excellent for helping beginners learn how to navigate the game or improve their skills. They are also beneficial for seasoned pickleball players looking to stay on top of their skills.
If you struggle with volleying in the non-volley zone, try incorporating kitchen-focused exercises into your practice sessions. Focus your skill enhancement on perfecting your kitchen skills before moving on to subsequent exercises.
You can practice on your own or with a partner. Listed below are a few pickleball practice exercises and kitchen drills that you can try on your own:
Paddle up or paddle bump: Get a feel for your paddle by bouncing the ball up and down on the face of your paddle without letting the ball hit the ground.
Selfie ball bounce: Hold your paddle horizontally. Hit the ball on the face of the paddle, allowing it to bounce to the ground and back up into your paddle again.
Triangle dinks: Stand at the non-volley zone and hit your ball in a triangle across the court.
Kitchen runs: Practice running in and out of the kitchen to avoid volleying while in the zone.
If practicing with a partner, you can play a practice game where each person aims to hit the ball into the non-volley zone, therefore encouraging the other person to hone their non-volley zone skills.
Shop Pickleball Supplies From Rhino Pickleball to Start Improving Your Skills Today
The importance of the kitchen in pickleball can make or break a game. When you learn how to effectively use the kitchen to your advantage and work to improve your skills, you will be closer to winning your next match. Add some finesse to your shots and take your next game up a level!
Also important for a successful pickleball game is playing with the right equipment. The right paddle can help you serve amazing volleys and soft shots. Rhino Pickleball has a selection of pickleball paddles that are easy to grip so that you can send amazing shots over the net. You can browse our shop online to get your hands on our high-quality pickleball equipment today.