By: CJ Johnson | April 11, 2020 |

Pickleball Rules-When Can I Step In the Kitchen?

I smashed a volley, my opponents can’t return it, and we won the point, but I’m windmilling. Can I ever step into the Kitchen? I can? When?

I recently did a Pickleball Rules AMA -Ask Me Anything with Certified Referee and Referee Trainer Don Stanley. Of course, there was a multitude of questions about the non-volley zone. One that comes up frequently is “When Can I Step in the Kitchen?”

What you didn’t see is after the segment was over, Don and I continued to talk about all the myths surrounding the non-volley zone. It seems we hear the same misconceptions and repeated questions. That’s when I decided it was time to do some MYTH BUSTING!

One of the constant questions we get regards volleys and momentum and usually sounds something like this;

I hit a smash volley, my opponents weren’t unable to return it, and it ended the point. I know my momentum can’t carry me into the Kitchen even after the ball is dead, but how long does it last? When can I step into the non-volley zone?

They’re asking for clarification on pickleball rules 9.B and 9.B.1.

9. B It is a fault if the volleying player or anything that has contact with the volleying player while in the act of volleying touches the non-volley zone.

9.B.1 The act of volleying the ball includes the swing, the follow-through, and the momentum from the action.

Click here if you need a free pickleball rule book pdf. 

Before we jump into Section 9 Non-Volley Zone Rules, it helps if we understand the definitions of the words we’ll find in this section.

Volley 3.A.44 During a rally, a strike of the ball out of the air before the ball has bounced.

Dead Ball 3.A.4 A ball that’s no longer in play.

Fault. 3.A.11 A rules violation that results in a dead ball and the end of the rally.

Faults happen in numerous ways. In this instance, the ball bounced twice because the opponents couldn’t return the smash volley.

So how did Don Stanley tell us to apply the pickleball rules to momentum and stepping into the Kitchen after hitting a volley?

“I’m at the line, and I smash a volley. Then I’ll start to windmill, and then the ball bounces once in the court, and then twice, it’s now out of bounds. That would normally be a good shot for me up until this point. Right now, technically, I’ve won the rally, but my momentum and I’m windmilling, and then I eventually step in the zone.”

“There is no time limit per se on your momentum carrying you into the zone. So even if the ball is dead, if my momentum is judged by the referee (or another player) to have taken me into the zone, that is a fault. Even if the ball has gone onto the other courts and everybody’s turned off the lights and gone home, there is no time limit on a momentum issue taking you into the zone and being a fault.”

I’ve heard I need to “Reestablish” myself before stepping in the Non-Volley Zone?

“That phrase is used the ref handbook and, and the ref needs to see that the player has regained bodily control. So if I’m windmilling and then stop and reset, shall we say, I’ve regained bodily control. I’ve had this happen several times. A player will smash a volley, and it’s match point or game point, and they’ll smash volley. They’ll win the point, they recover slightly or they, let’s say they pull back(from the Kitchen) for a second. So they’ve pulled themselves away from the zone, then the match is over. They step into the zone to go touch paddles.”

“He had regained his control and had self composure, regained bodily control. And after that point, basically, we’re, we’re good to go if that makes sense. The momentum has stopped when a player regains their bodily control.”

Don, what about someone who poaches near the Kitchen?

“They run over, they poach, and they’re running across tiptoeing, trying not to step on the NVZ. That one can last three or four or five steps. It’s when the ref determines, you’ve regained your bodily control. You’re in control of yourself, and it’s not the momentum controlling you. And when that happens, you’re good to go.”


As a player, it’s your responsibility to know the basic pickleball rules and share them with others accurately. We can stop the myths and misconceptions about the non-volley zone if we use the rulebook as our guide. If you want to learn more about the rules, here’s a link to the entire Pickleball Rules AMA with Don



CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)