What Is the Non-Volley Zone in Pickleball?

pickleball non volley zone

Those who are vaguely familiar with the game of pickleball may have heard the term “non-volley zone,” but for those who are new to the sport, many may wonder what the non-volley zone is and what the rules are relating to it. Read on to learn the function of the non-volley zone and how it functions in pickleball.

What Is the Non-Volley Zone?

In pickleball, the non-volley zone is defined as the area of both sides of the court that comprises the seven feet bordering the net. The non-volley zone covers the entire width of the net and extends backward from it for seven feet into the territory on either side of the net. The non-volley zone is usually very visible on a standard pickleball court, as it will be an open space adjacent to the net that is bordered by an enclosed rectangle. The non-volley zone ends where the centerline dividing two service courts on either side of the net begins. In pickleball slang, the non-volley zone is sometimes referred to as “the kitchen.”

What Is the Purpose of the Non-Volley Zone?

The non-volley zone exists for two reasons in pickleball. The first is to give the ball adequate space to bounce after being served, as pickleball players must allow the ball to bounce once on their side of the net prior to returning a serve. The second reason the non-volley zone exists is to prevent players from performing smashes within the zone. If a player were to return the ball with a smash from the zone near the net, such a hit would be almost impossible to return. Therefore, players are prohibited from returning a ball that has not bounced while standing in the non-volley zone.

What Are the Rules of the Non-Volley Zone?

The non-volley zone is the subject of Section 9 of the USA Pickleball Rulebook. The first and primary rule in Section 9 states that all volleys in pickleball must be made outside of the non-volley zone, with one exception for players in wheelchairs, who are allowed to have their frontal, smaller wheels inside the zone when volleying, but not the larger back wheels. Players are allowed to enter the non-volley zone when they are not volleying the ball, but before proceeding to volley the ball, both of their feet must clearly exit the non-volley zone. Players cannot bend this rule by standing in the non-volley zone, jumping in order to return the ball, and then landing outside of the non-volley zone.

Section 9 also states that any player in pickleball may enter the non-volley zone in order to return a ball that has bounced once. It will not be counted as a violation if a player enters the non-volley zone to return a bounced ball or if a player remains in the non-volley zone after returning a ball that has bounced. It is also not a violation to return the ball when one’s teammate is standing in the non-volley zone.

What Penalties Are There for Entering the Non-Volley Zone?

There are a few faults that can be issued in pickleball relating to the non-volley zone. Firstly, a player will receive a fault if they, or anything in contact with them, enter the non-volley zone while in the act of volleying. The act of volleying is considered to consist of swinging at the ball, following through on the swing, and any momentum generated by the swing. 

A fault can also be issued if any part of a player’s paddle touches the non-volley zone during a volley, either before or after contacting the ball. Another type of fault can occur if a volleying player’s swing or momentum causes them to touch something that is in or partially within the non-volley zone, such as their teammate. This is a fault even if the ball is declared dead prior to the action.

In pickleball, a fault results in an automatic dead ball. In doubles play, if a fault is committed by the receiving team, the serving team receives a point. If the serving team commits a fault, they lose the rally, and service transfers to the next player.


What is the non-volley zone in pickleball?

The non-volley zone is the area of a pickleball court that borders the net on both sides, extending seven feet in either direction from the net and spanning the entire width of the court. The non-volley zone is also referred to as “the kitchen” by pickleball players. The non-volley zone exists to give the ball ample space to bounce after a serve, which is required in pickleball.

Can you enter the non-volley zone in pickleball?

You are allowed to enter the non-volley zone in pickleball. However, you are not allowed to hit, or “volley,” the ball while you are inside the non-volley zone. If a player hits the ball within the non-volley zone, they will be assessed a fault.

What happens if you enter the non-volley zone in pickleball?

There is no penalty for entering the non-volley zone in pickleball. However, it is a fault if a player hits the ball while in the non-volley zone. A fault by the serving team will result in the service being conceded to the opponent. A fault committed by the non-serving team will result in a point for the serving team.