Pickleball, a paddle sport that has taken the world by storm, blends elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis into an exciting and engaging game. As players, enthusiasts, and spectators come together to enjoy this sport, they might encounter some unique terminology, including the enigmatic “kitchen.” While the term might conjure images of cooking and culinary delights, its association with pickleball is anything but obvious. In this article, we delve into the history and evolution of this quirky term and explore why it is called the “kitchen” in pickleball.

The Kitchen’s Role in Pickleball

The Kitchen's Role in Pickleball

In the context of pickleball, the “kitchen” refers to a specific area on the court that plays a vital role in gameplay dynamics. It is a seven-foot deep non-volley zone (NVZ) that stretches across the width of the court, located on both sides of the net. This area is essential for maintaining a balanced and fair playing field, as it encourages strategic gameplay and emphasizes the importance of shot placement. Must Read This Article: Pickleball Matches | Understanding The Game Format

The Origins of the Term

To trace the origins of the term “kitchen” in pickleball, we need to venture back to the early days of the sport. Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, William Bell, and Barney McCallum on Bainbridge Island, Washington. As the game developed and spread, the sport’s early players realized the necessity of establishing certain rules and boundaries to ensure competitive integrity.

The original pickleball court had no specific non-volley zone, and players could advance to the net and smash the ball, leading to a fast-paced, sometimes chaotic game. To address this, the non-volley zone was introduced to create a buffer area close to the net where players could not execute volleys.

Herein lies the origin of the term “kitchen.” As the sport was born on an island, it is rumored that the name “kitchen” was chosen as a nod to the kitchen’s heart in a home – a place that is often the center of activity and where a lot of action takes place. The introduction of the non-volley zone added an element of controlled play and strategy, making it a critical “heart” or “center” of the game, hence the name “kitchen.”

The Kitchen’s Impact on Gameplay

The Kitchen's Impact On Gameplay pickleball

The non-volley zone, or kitchen, has a significant impact on how pickleball is played. Players are not allowed to volley (hit the ball before it bounces) while standing inside the kitchen. This rule fosters a more thoughtful approach to the game, forcing players to use angles, lobs, and dinks to maneuver opponents out of position.

By restricting volleys in this area, the kitchen helps level the playing field between aggressive and defensive players. Aggressive players, often relying on powerful smashes, must master shot placement and finesse to win points from the kitchen, while defensive players have a chance to shine by utilizing dinks and drop shots effectively.


As pickleball continues to grow in popularity, the unique terminology associated with the sport, including the enigmatic “kitchen,” has piqued the curiosity of players and enthusiasts alike. While the origins of the term might seem mysterious at first, its association with the non-volley zone adds depth and complexity to the game, promoting strategic gameplay and ensuring a fair and balanced competition.

Pickleball Kitchen (Non-Volley Zone) – FAQs

What is the “kitchen” in pickleball?

The “kitchen” refers to the non-volley zone (NVZ) on a pickleball court. It is a seven-foot deep area on both sides of the net where players are not allowed to hit the ball before it bounces.

Why is it called the “kitchen”?

The term “kitchen” is rumored to have originated from the sport’s early days on Bainbridge Island. It symbolizes the heart or center of the game, emphasizing the importance of strategic play in this critical area.

What is the purpose of the kitchen in pickleball?

The kitchen adds strategic depth to the game. It prevents players from executing volleys close to the net, encouraging thoughtful shot placement and fostering a balance between aggressive and defensive play.

Are there special rules for the kitchen?

Yes, players cannot volley the ball while standing inside the kitchen. They must let the ball bounce before hitting it when they are in this area.

What are the dimensions of the kitchen?

The kitchen is a seven-foot deep non-volley zone, extending across the width of the pickleball court on both sides of the net.

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