Pickleball is one of the most popular racquet sports out there, so it is no surprise that more and more people are looking to learn more about this sport, and how they can get involved and begin playing too.
However, unlike some other racquet sports, Pickleball has a number of rules that people need to be aware of, and it often makes learning the sport difficult and tedious for those who aren’t used to some of the unique rules found in Pickleball.
One of the most common rules that people often fail to understand is the non-volley zone, which is also more commonly known as the “kitchen”.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with all of the details you need to know about the non-volley zone, so you can become a better Pickleball player!
What Is The Non-Volley Zone?
Before we can begin to take a look at the non-volley zone and why it’s important to Pickleball as a game, it is first important to understand exactly what the non-volley zone is.
The non-volley zone, which is more commonly known to Pickleball players as the “kitchen,” is the 7-foot area that can be found on either side of the net in the game of Pickleball.
While standing in the non-volley zone, players are not allowed to make a volleying shot (a shot made before the ball bounces), and if a player volleys a shot while in the non-volley zone, the opposing team earns a point.
For people who are used to playing a sport like tennis, the inclusion of this non-volley zone might seem rather strange, as volleying in close vicinity to the net is one of the most common ways to score points.
However, as you’ll discover, the inclusion of the non-volley zone in Pickleball is an important one, and without it, the game wouldn’t be the same!
How Does The Non-Volley Zone Work?
Players are not allowed to make volleying shots (shots made before the ball bounces) while standing in the non-volley zone. If a player volleys a shot while in the non-volley zone, the opposing team earns a point.
During the game, players are allowed to step in and out of the non-volley zone while playing the ball, as long as they don’t make a volleying shot while standing in the non-volley zone.
If a player volleys a shot from outside the non-volley zone and their feet land in the non-volley zone before the ball is hit, it is considered a fault.
Additionally, the non-volley zone also applies to serves. The server must serve the ball from behind the baseline and cannot make a volleying shot on the serve, even if they are standing outside of the non-volley zone.
Players are also not allowed to jump up and hit a volley in the non-volley zone either, and this is still counted as a fault.
Before a player is able to hit a volley, they need to “re-establish” their feet, which means ensuring that the entirety of both of their feet are outside of the non-volley zone when they make a volleyed shot.
Players are allowed to reach or jump over the non-volley zone to make a volleyed shot however, so long as their feet do not touch either the line of the non-volley zone, or the non-volley zone section of the court, and this type of shot is called an Erne.
It is worth noting that even if the player’s paddle touches the non-volley zone when attempting a volley, that this will then lead to a fault as well, so it’s important to ensure that absolutely no part of you or your paddle is on the line of, or inside of, the non-volley zone at any time when volleying a shot.
Another thing worth knowing is that serves are not allowed to land on the line of the non-volley zone, or the non-volley zone itself either, and must be hit into the service box that is crosscourt from the player serving, otherwise a fault is committed.
Why Is The Non-Volley Zone In Pickleball Important?
When people begin to play Pickleball, and discover the rules that surround the non-volley zone, many players often feel like the rules are slightly stupid, especially if they’re used to playing a racquet sport like tennis, where no such rule exists.
However, learning the reason why the non-volley zone will change your mind.
The reason why the non-volley rule is so important in pickleball is because it promotes more strategic and varied play.
People often wonder how exactly it leads to more varied and strategic gameplay, and it’s because being unable to volley then forces players to hit groundstrokes instead of volleying shots, which makes the game more dynamic and less predictable.
Another reason why the non-volley zone is important to Pickleball as a game is that it also encourages players to develop a wider range of shots and to think more critically about when and where to place their shots, which helps to raise the skill level of players quickly.
Additionally, it creates a zone of transition where players must be careful and make sure they don’t commit a fault, which can lead to the creation of strategies by the opposing team.
Overall, the non-volley zone adds an extra layer of strategy (Also check out What Is Stacking In Pickleball?) and skill to the game, making it more fun and challenging for players of all levels.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about the non-volley zone, which is one of the most important things to remember when you’re playing Pickleball, as it can be especially confusing for beginners who are used to other racquet sports.
Just be sure not to volley inside of the zone, and to keep your feet and paddle away if you are attempting to volley the ball, and you should have no problem!