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CJ Johnson
Tony Roig
Tony Roig

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





  1. Avatar photo Mike Cristina on April 11, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    If my partner is windmilling, can come in from behind and grab his arm to prevent him from “falling in”?

    • Avatar photo Cathy Jo Johnson on April 11, 2020 at 5:51 pm

      Great question Mike. Yes, you can ask long as you don’t touch the NVZ.

      • Avatar photo Jonathanlovelace on April 22, 2022 at 4:52 pm

        Can I jump over the kitchen? I’ve done this a couple times when I’m near the edge of the court. I can’t stop my momentum from carrying me into the kitchen, so I jump out of bounds, passing over (but not putting my foot in) the kitchen.

        • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on April 22, 2022 at 11:29 pm

          Yes as long as nothing touches the NVZ you are fine

  2. Avatar photo Sam on April 12, 2020 at 7:48 am

    If the ball hits either of the end top uprights (net poles) and falls into the play zone is that a playable ball?

    • Avatar photo Cathy Jo Johnson on May 2, 2020 at 7:37 pm

      Here You go Sam

      11.K. The Net Posts. The net posts (including connected wheels, arms, or other support construction) are positioned out of bounds. If a ball or player contacts the net post while the ball is in play, it is a fault and a dead ball is declared.

      11.K.1. A ball contacting the net, the net cable, or rope
      between the net posts remains in play.

  3. Avatar photo Rob Menta on April 16, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    My partner (after hitiing a winning shot) is windmilling, I come in from behind and pat him on the back “Great shot!” ,
    which pushes him into the NVZ

    • Avatar photo Rob Menta on April 16, 2020 at 12:10 pm

      That was more of a joke – not a question! (I hit enter too soon) – Rob Menta

  4. Avatar photo Terry Brown on December 4, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    After a player volleys the ball, the other team returns the volley, but the volleying player continues into the kitchen as part of his momentum, Is that still a fault?

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on December 6, 2021 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Terry, yes if as a result of a volley the player’s momentum carries them into the kitchen it’s a fault.

  5. Avatar photo Bill Skeels on December 30, 2021 at 1:06 am

    Question can you stay in the kitchen after hitting a ball from the kitchen in case a another ball bounces in the kitchen?

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on December 31, 2021 at 4:30 am

      Yes you can. The only thing you can’t do is volley a ball while you are in the kitchen.

  6. Avatar photo J on March 26, 2022 at 11:50 pm

    Can I return a non-volley ball (after a single bounce that is not inside the kitchen), and (let’s say since I was too far back initially I had to sprint to get to the ball soon after it bounced) then can I run-through/into the kitchen (because I am moving too fast to stop)?

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on March 27, 2022 at 9:27 am

      If the ball bounced and you hit it and your momentum took you into the kitchen that’s fine. If you hit a volley from the air and your momentum took you into the kitchen that’s a kitchen violation.

      • Avatar photo J on March 28, 2022 at 3:08 am

        Cool, that’s what I thought but thanks for the confirmation!

  7. Avatar photo J on April 18, 2022 at 1:08 am

    Another silly question I have regarding around the post shots…so say a player from the other team is about to do an atp shot and you recognize this…can you go towards them (out of bounds) and try to hit their shot back to their court from around the post too (like a sort of “double atp” shot)? I realize that this is probably not good strategy due to the small amount of time you would have to react to their shot if you are standing very near them (but behind your side of the net), but would it be legal?

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on April 18, 2022 at 2:53 am

      Yes you technically could do this but as you point out strategically it doesn’t make much sense.

  8. Avatar photo Stacy Kiffe on June 2, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    My partner is at the kitchen line, he hits a volley and the opposing player hits it into the net. I am coming from the back court when this happens. I arrive at the kitchen after the play is over and I do not contact the ball. I did a little jump for joy for my partners shot and land in the kitchen. Is this a fault?

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on June 3, 2022 at 9:16 pm

      No fault. If your partner fell into the NVZ after hitting a value before he recovered his balance that’s a fault

  9. Avatar photo Bentley on May 18, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    If I’m standing behind the kitchen like, am I able to reach forward, into the kitchen to volley if my feet remain behind?

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on May 18, 2023 at 5:09 pm

      Yes, you can.

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