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is the kitchen line in or out in pickleball

Is the Kitchen Line In or Out in Pickleball?


In Pickleball, there is a zone that is unique to the sport that can be quite confusing, especially for new players. That zone is called the Kitchen or the No-Volley Zone. In this zone, you are not allowed to volley the pickleball, which means hitting the ball without having it bounce first.

What makes the kitchen confusing is its rulings. There are a few things you have to know before you can really understand how the kitchen works and what you should avoid. 

Are you allowed to step in the kitchen after volleying? Is the kitchen line in or out? In this article, we will learn the answers to those questions and more.


Why Does Pickleball Have a Kitchen?

With the pickleball court being rather small, players can easily stand near the net and smash or volley every ball coming their way. These balls are difficult to counter and are very likely to score points. 

kitchen in pickleball

This is why there is a kitchen zone in pickleball. It not only makes pickleball a unique sport, but it prevents quick rallies and unplayable gaming strategies. It ensures the game is fair and enjoyable for everyone.


Things You Should Know About The Kitchen

The kitchen zone spans the entire width of the court and extends seven feet on either side of the net. It results in players playing farther from the net, away from their opponents, leading to longer rallies and strategic play.

Pickleball is kind of a new sport in that it’s only in recent years that it started to become really popular. So, newcomers may find it challenging to get used to the kitchen concept. Here are non-volley zone regulations stated in the USA Pickleball Association or USAPA that you need to be aware of:

  • You are not allowed to volley within this zone.
  • The line is still part of the zone, so it is still considered a fault if your feet touch just the edge of the line while you’re volleying. 
  • Any part of your body, gear, or garment should not touch the NVZ when volleying.
  • Serves are not allowed to hit the non-volley zone.
  • Even if the ball is already dead, you are still not allowed to step in the NVZ, even if momentum is making you lose your balance.


Is The Kitchen Line In or Out in Pickleball?

According to the USA Pickleball Official Rulebook, a ball may land on both the kitchen zone and its edge or line at all times except when serving. 

Also in the said rulebook, it is stated that when you serve, you must always serve diagonally toward the opposing service area while avoiding the kitchen zone. If the server touches any part of the kitchen—even if it’s only the edge or line—it is considered a fault. In any other circumstance, the kitchen zone and line are considered in.

So, is the kitchen line in or out in pickleball? The kitchen line is considered IN at any time EXCEPT WHEN SERVING. When a player is serving, the kitchen zone and the kitchen line are considered OUT.


What About The Other Lines on the Court?

The rules are the same for other lines on the court. The lines or edges constitute a part of the inside of the court, so if the ball hits a line it is considered in. This rule is similar in sports such as tennis wherein referees have to be super accurate when making line calls in games.

other lines in pickleball

For those who do not know, line calls are calls on the court that define whether or not a ball is considered in or out when it “hits” a line. The ruling is that even if the smallest part of the ball touches the line, it is considered an inside ball.

Who Makes The Line Calls in Pickleball?

In tennis, the umpire or referee is responsible for making the line calls. However, in pickleball, the players themselves call the line calls even if a referee or judge is present. This promotes honesty and integrity throughout the sport. 

This may sound controversial as players could very easily cheat and turn the tables during games. But the opposing team does have the right to contest or appeal to the referee or judge to verify the call before the next service is made.

If there is no mediator present in the game, this will truly test the integrity and honor of pickleball players. After all, sports are meant to promote good sportsmanship and fair play.

In any case, you must also be ready to spot line calls as the game goes on. Be aware of where the ball hits the court and when a ball is out—only when it is near the line—simply raise your hand and/or call “Out!”.

Order of Precedence in Line Calls

As the players are given the authority to make line calls, they must use them justly. Such calls must be made by those on the side of the court in which the ball hit—basically, the receivers of the shot. However, they are also given the chance to let the opponent or referee (if present) make the call.

line calls in pickleball

They must follow the order of precedence to keep things fair at all times:

  1. If no line call is made, the ball will always be considered in.
  2. The referee or opponent cannot make a line call on your side of the court unless the call is clear or you ask them to.
  3. If a player asks either the referee or opponent, they immediately give up their right to make the line call. The right goes to the opponent or the referee to make the call in that situation. Therefore, you cannot make the call anymore and the decision rests on their hands.
  4. If the opponent makes the call, the player can still appeal to the referee to make the final decision. However, if even the referee is not sure, then the opponent’s call is final.
  5. If the player asks the referee directly, then the referee’s decision is final. However, if the referee is not sure, then the default call is always in.

Regardless of the situation, players must be honest at all times to keep the games fair and just.


Other Frequently Asked Questions About the Kitchen

Here are a few other questions most commonly asked by new pickleball players about the kitchen zone.

  1. Can You Land in The Kitchen Zone After Volleying?

No, you are not allowed to land in the kitchen zone after volleying. Doing so is considered a fault, according to the USA Pickleball’s 2023 Rule Book (Section 9):

Rule 9.B.1. – The act of volleying the ball includes the swing, the follow-through, and the momentum from the action. 

The act of swinging, the follow-through, and the resulting momentum of the action are all a part of volleying. You must therefore not touch the kitchen zone during any of these actions, even if the ball is dead.

  1. When Can You Step on The No-Volley Zone?

Throughout the course of a pickleball game, you are basically allowed to step on the no-volley zone anytime except when volleying. So, if you’re not into volleying to score points, then you can totally use the whole court as you please. Just remember to have the ball bounce once before hitting it if you are stepping on any part of the no-volley zone.

  1. Can I Volley While Having One Foot Outside the Kitchen Zone?

Absolutely not. According to Section 9, both feet must be outside the kitchen zone for you to be allowed to volley the ball. Entering then jumping out while volleying is NOT allowed as well. You have to step both feet outside the kitchen zone first before attempting to volley.

  1. What Is the Two-Bounce Rule?

The two-bounce rule basically goes like this (in this specific order):

  1. A serve is hit. The receiving team must let the ball bounce once (first bounce) before returning the ball. 
  2. The ball comes back to the serving team, who must also let the ball bounce once (second bounce) before returning. 
  3. Once the ball has bounced twice—once on each side of the net—the two-bounce rule is complete.
  4. Players are now free to volley or hit the ball off the bounce.

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NOTE: The two-bounce rule must be done at the start of EVERY serve. The ball can touch the kitchen during the return and onwards—regardless of the two-bounce rule being in effect—but NEVER during the serve itself, as mentioned earlier.


Wrapping Up

The kitchen line is only considered out when serving. You are not allowed to hit any part of the no-volley zone—even its edges and lines—when you serve. Other than that, you are free to let the ball bounce off the zone as you please.