What is the Non-Volley Zone in Pickleball? – Pickleball Mate

Like all other sports, there are few rules & regulations, particular terminologies, and professional equipment used in the pickleball game.

Pickleball is another type of game played within a court area using very simple equipment including a racket and a ball. The game has simple and interesting rules and is played for the sake of fun, fitness, and competitive intentions.

This game was started with the mere intention of entertainment and fitness but gained a lot of popularity and is now being played worldwide under defined regulations of the pickleball association.

Terms Used in Pickleball:

There are many technical terms used by pickleball experts to define the game’s regulations such as:

  • Carry
  • Cross-court
  • Volley
  • Non-volley
  • Drop-shot Volley
  • Fault
  • Serve
  • First- serve
  • Half volley and many more.

It will not be possible for us to discuss all of the above terms, however, we will be focusing only on all the details of the non-volley zone.

The non-volley zone also known as the “kitchen” is the area in the court where the players are generally not allowed to enter while playing the match. Also, check the How to Practice Pickleball Alone?

However, there are some rules where they have the allowance to enter without any fault but that’s only in a few situations. In general, if any player enters the non-volley zone/kitchen, it would be considered a fault and a point will be given to the opponent.

The dimensions of the non-volley zone lie within the court up to a maximum distance of 7 feet from both sides. This means, besides the pickleball net, up to a distance of 7 feet from both sides lies the non-volley zone or Kitchen area.

Non-volley is the specialized word assigned to this area and is used professionally as a standardized term. However, informally, the word “kitchen” is used most commonly and you will not find this term even a single time in the official book of USAPA rules. This refers to two-dimensional space (form either side of the net) and is the prohibited area where the player cannot enter without bouncing the ball first.

There are several Kitchen/non-volley zone rules which we need to understand completely during the course of learning pickleball rules. Also, check the What Kind Of Ball Is Used In Pickleball?

However, before going into the in-depth knowledge of non-volley zone rules, it is highly important to first get a know-how of the terms volley and ground stroke and a little bit about their rules.

In simple words, you can just define a volley as a kind of stroke where the player doesn’t have to bounce the ball on the ground before hitting, however, the player is striking the ball in the air without hitting the ground.

Whereas, in-ground stroke, the player hits the ball only after bouncing it to the ground for once.  You Can also check the Best Pickleball Machines.

Rules and regulations of non-volley in pickleball:

1- The bouncing ball rule in the kitchen:

The player can be in the non-volley zone if the ball has already bounced in the kitchen when the player is standing there. You can just simply put it this way as per the regulations.The player would not be allowed to strike a shot when the ball is in the air and did not hit the group while standing in the kitchen. Also, read the What is a Dink in Pickleball?
As mentioned earlier, hitting the ball in the air without bouncing on the floor is termed a volley. As per the rule, the player can play a volley only when he/she is in the volley zone (outside the kitchen) and cannot play a volley when he/she is in the non-volley zone.

2- Making the stroke not allowed while the player stands or touches the non-volley area:

According to the rule of the non-volley zone, if ever a player enters the non-volley space and makes a stroke (when the ball is in the air) then the player would be at fault since this is not permissible by the pickleball associations.

3- Ways and procedures allowed to enter the non-volley zone during the action of volley:

There are few exceptions where the player can stand in a non-volley zone while making a stroke without any fault:

Below are the acts prohibited in the non-volley zone:

  • During the course of playing, if the player is already in the non-volley zone without a fault and a second shot is required in the same zone, then the player cannot make a strike while being in the kitchen. Also, check the How to Hold a Pickleball Paddle?
  • If a member is required to make any contact with his partner who is already positioned in the non-volley zone, then there will be a fault if he touches the kitchen while making a volley.

Below are the acts that are permissible in the non-volley zone:

Referring to the above-mentioned rules, it’s now clear that it is not allowed to volley the ball (meaning: striking in the air without a single bounce on the ground) while touching even the borderline or entering the non-volley area. However, there are some permissible points to take into notice:

  • The player is allowed to hit the ball (in the air) only beyond the non-volley area.
  • Hit the ball once it touches the ground and bounces back in the air (while standing in the kitchen)

Simply being in the kitchen/non-volley area (not hitting a stroke) when the partner player is making the stroke.

Few questions must be arising in your mind while talking about the volley and non-volley zone such as: 

1- Will it be a fault if a volley stroke is made touching the feet on the non-volley zone line?

Yes, it will be a fault because it is not permissible to even touch the non-volley zone. That’s why it is called a non-volley zone.

2- Consider a player playing in the volley zone and hitting the ball being near to the non-volley zone and not touching the non-volley borderline but accidentally his cap fell down into the non-volley area. Will it be considered a fault?

Yes, it will be considered a ball even if the player doesn’t touch the non-volley zone because anything that belongs to the player is highly prohibited to touch the non-volley area.

3- Under which circumstances, the player is allowed to touch or enter the kitchen?

If the player is not making any stroke while being in the volley zone, he/she can enter the non-volley zone. The word non-volley is self-explanatory meaning that during the course of volley (hitting a stroke) the plate can not touch this particular area.

4- If a player is already in the kitchen / non-volley zone, what would be a procedure to start volleying again without making a fault?

The answer is very simple. If a player is in the kitchen, he/she must step out of the kitchen zone and then can make a volley without any fault.

5- If the game is between 4 players, two partners on one side and two on the opposite. Will it be a fault if one of the partners is hitting the stroke in the volley zone and the other player enters the non-volley zone?

Ideally, this should not happen quite often and the experts do not recommend this from the tactical point of view but anyways, this will not be considered a fault because the player inside the kitchen area is not making any shot.

6- Why in pickleball is it highly important to not enter and touch the non-volley zone / Kitchen?

Well, it is not always prohibited to stay out of the non-volley area however, as per the rules, it is important to not touch the kitchen area in certain circumstances. These circumstances are discussed above in detail. The logic behind this rule is to make the game more legit and technically sound. For example,  while playing, a player is very close to the net (in the non-volley zone) the opponent player would have an ideal time to make you in a difficult situation for striking hard and hitting the ball farther away from the pickleball net making it difficult for you to go back to the court outer boundary to secure the point.

Making it illegal not to enter the non-volley zone would make the game smoother and the players would automatically stay in appropriate positions making the game smooth to watch and play as well.

Conclusion:

Understanding the non-volley zone is sometimes quite complicated and the audience plus the players can get confused very easily.

Simply knowing the concept of volley would make it easier to grasp the further concept of non-volley zone/kitchen. A lot of times the word volley is misinterpreted as a space or an area/zone where the players have to play while following the rules and regulations. This will not be considered the correct approach to explaining or defining a volley. Also, read the What is a Rally in Pickleball?

Volley, in reality,  is the term assigned to a stroke/ hit that the players generally make while playing the pickleball. So simple, the valley is another word given to hit but there is a rule attached to it. Hitting the ball when the ball is in the air (only) and didn’t hit/touch the ground even for once, is the actual meaning of a volley. Now getting to know the concept of a non-volley zone would be extremely easy. Simply you can say that the non-volley zone is the space/area in the courtyard of the pickleball where it is not allowed for the players to hit the ball when the ball is in the air (in other words called volley).

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