What Is The Non-Volley Zone In Pickleball?
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. Here, we will take a look at what the Non-Volley Zone on a pickleball court is, what its function is, and what the Rules of Pickleball say about it.
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?
Considering the rules above, 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. If a fault is committed by the receiving team, the serving team receives a point. If the serving team commits a fault, they lose their serve, which transfers to the other team.
The Non-Volley Zone is an important aspect of pickleball, and the rules related to it should be known by everyone wanting to play the sport. Due to rules dictating that entering the Non-Volley Zone illegally can result in faults and lost points, pickleball players should be absolutely certain that they are keeping a careful eye out for their movements into and out of the Non-Volley Zone.