What is “the Kitchen” in Pickleball?

Find out the backstory on this culinary slang heard on the pickleball court and how it applies to the rules of the game.

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

It’s an old saying a lot of us have heard, and it’s especially true in pickleball.

“The kitchen” is an area of the pickleball court with a specific set of rules defining what players can and cannot do inside it. It can be challenging for newcomers to understand these pickleball rules, but Pro Tips is here to break down the kitchen and what you need to know before stepping onto the pickleball court.

SO, WHERE EXACTLY IS THE KITCHEN?

Simply put, the kitchen is the non-volley zone of the pickleball court that extends seven feet from both sides of the net and from sideline to sideline.

WHY IS IT CALLED THE KITCHEN?

This doesn’t have as a clear of an answer, but the term may have originated in another sport.

In shuffleboard, the kitchen is a section behind the primary scoring zones called the “10-off” area where players can lose points. So, the kitchen can be a bad spot to be in both pickleball and shuffleboard.

THE RULES OF THE KITCHEN

Now that you know where the kitchen is, it’s important to know the rules. This is one of the unique aspects of pickleball that is different from other racquet sports.

  • The first thing to remember about the kitchen is that you cannot stand in it or make contact with the kitchen line while volleying the ball. If any part of your body is making contact with these areas, your opponent receives a point. This rule discourages from standing at the net for the duration of the game.
  • Remember, this rule only applies to making contact with the ground. Can you hit the ball out of the air while standing behind the line? Yes, but you run a risk of faulting due to another kitchen rule.
  • If a player drops anything in the kitchen that they are wearing or carrying, their opponent will receive a point. This ranges from your paddle to sunglasses to hats. Even if your wallet or keys fall out of your pocket, it’s still a fault.
  • Finally, be aware that your momentum cannot carry you into the kitchen. Even if you successfully volley the ball to your opponent, you must stay out of the kitchen to avoid a fault. You can even fault on dead balls.

But what if the ball bounces in the kitchen on a short dink? You can still enter the kitchen to play it. The rules above are only for volleys or shots hit out of the air. Remember to not just stand in the kitchen, as your opponent could take advantage of this with a volley. You can stay in the kitchen as long as needed, but it is crucial to get out of there quickly. Both feet must be in contact with the playing surface outside of the kitchen before hitting a volley.

If you are playing a doubles match, your partner can be in the kitchen while you volley, just as long as they don’t touch you.

The rules of the kitchen can be confusing to new pickleball players. But once you get a feel for the kitchen, you’ll be ready to start cooking with some gas during your next pickleball match.

Looking for more beginner pickleball tips? Learn the basics of the pickleball serve and tips on how to volley too.