Sometimes, it can feel like there's a bit of a food theme going on with pickleball — after all, you've got pickles in the name and a “kitchen” on the court. 

But don’t let the terminology fool you. The kitchen isn't a place to whip up a snack; it's actually a critical zone on the court, and understanding its rules is one of the basics of grasping pickleball as a beginner. 

What is the Kitchen in Pickleball?

The "kitchen" in pickleball refers to the non-volley zone, a critical area of the court located adjacent to the net. This zone extends seven feet on both sides of the net and is marked on the court. 

The golden rule here: no volleying while standing in this area. A volley is when you hit the ball in the air before it has a chance to bounce on the ground. This type of shot is a quick, offensive move often used to catch opponents off guard — think of it as similar to a smash in tennis. 

Pickleball Kitchen Rules You Need to Know

Here are some basic pickleball kitchen rules to keep in mind as a beginner:

  • No volleying in the kitchen: If you’re in the kitchen, wait for the ball to bounce before you hit it. It's the most important rule to remember while you're in this zone — it prevents players from gaining an unfair advantage by playing too close to the net.

  • The momentum rule: If you volley and your momentum takes you into the kitchen, oops, that’s a fault. This rule applies even if the ball is no longer in active play before you enter the kitchen.

  • Doubles rules: In doubles, both you and your partner need to follow the pickleball kitchen rules. If one player violates the rule, it affects the team.

  • Exceptions to pickleball kitchen rules: You can step into the kitchen if the ball bounces there. Just make sure to hop out before your next volley.

Why is It Called “The Kitchen?”

The term “kitchen” in pickleball is a bit of playful jargon that adds to the unique culture of the sport. Its origins are a bit of a pickle (pun intended!), with some saying it's from the old saying, “stay out of the kitchen,” meaning staying out of trouble, or in this case, out of the non-volley zone. 

Regardless of its origins, the term has stuck and is now an integral part of pickleball lingo.

What Are the Dimensions of a Pickleball Kitchen?

The kitchen measures 20 feet in width, spanning the entire width of the court, and 7 feet in depth from the net on both sides. 

Check out this guide for a refresher on the overall dimensions of a pickleball court.

Ready to Head to the Kitchen?

Just starting out in pickleball or switching from tennis? Don’t underestimate the value of coaching. A great coach is like having a recipe book for pickleball success, turning those confusing pickleball kitchen rules into clear strategies while honing your skills and helping you serve up some serious competition on the court. 

So, lace up your sneakers, find a highly-rated pickleball coach near you, and get ready to have a blast on the pickleball court this weekend.