The Kitchen | What is the NVZ?
The pickleball court is composed of three main parts. Two of these are the left and right service areas. The third is called the “kitchen,” but it’s formal name is the “non-volley zone.”
The kitchen is a seven-foot long zone on each side of the net, ranging from the net to the non-volley line which separates the kitchen from the service areas. The rules in this area vary from those that apply in the service areas.
1. No Volleys
This much should be obvious in the non-volley zone. The pickleball may not be hit before bouncing while the player is in the kitchen. Volleying from this zone results in a fault.
Because the kitchen is so close to the net and because volleys can generate so much speed on the ball, only groundstrokes (hits after the ball bounces) are permitted in the kitchen.
2. The Line Is Part of the Area
The non-volley line, which separates the kitchen from the service areas, is considered part of the non-volley area. Thus, even touching the line places a player in the kitchen and he/she may not volley the pickleball. Only players entirely outside the non-volley zone may volley.
This rule continues to apply even after the ball has been volleyed from the service area: if a player’s momentum causes him to touch or cross the line with body or racket after a volley, it is considered a fault. This applies even if the ball is already dead on the opponent’s side.
3. Doubles Rules
In a doubles match, one’s partner is allowed to assist you to keep you from crossing into the non-volley zone after a volley from the service area. The partner can hold or block you from letting your momentum take you across the line to cause a fault.
4. Entering and Exiting the Kitchen
There is no restriction on entering the kitchen by a player, but once any part of the player enters the area volleys are no longer allowed. A player is considered to have exited the kitchen only when both feet are established entirely outside the kitchen.
Why “the Kitchen”?
There is no agreement on how the area came to be called the kitchen, though it is believed that the concept of the zone came from shuffleboard. In shuffleboard, the entering 10-off area in the center results in a points deduction. While there is no immediate fault in pickleball just for entering, players will mostly want to stay out of the kitchen anyway.