The general rule of thumb on the pickleball courts is to work your way to the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen line as soon as possible. It is important to play and control the Kitchen line on the pickleball court.
All too often, we see players staying at the baseline or getting caught in the transition area (also called “No Man’s Land,” which is the space between the baseline and the Kitchen). This is a mistake that leads to a lot of lost opportunities on the pickleball court. So, we thought it would be a good idea to (1) remind everyone to move into the Non-Volley Zone line as soon as possible; and (2) breakdown why it is important to move into the Kitchen line quickly.
So, first and foremost, remember to work your way to the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen line as soon as possible! And, second, why should you get to the Kitchen line quickly? There are a few reasons of why you should get to the Kitchen line as soon as possible:
- Playing at the Kitchen line takes time away from your opponents. Your opponents will have less time to react to the next shot, as you will be closer to them when playing at the Non-Volley Zone line. This puts pressure on your opponents, which will make them more likely to make unforced or forced errors. This will also make it easier for you to try to push your opponents back in the transition area and to the baseline on their side of the pickleball court.
- When at the Kitchen line, you can cut down on the angles that your opponents have to hit shots. There are less openings for your opponents to attack you and your partner. In other words, you and your partner will be able to cover more shots from your opponents.
- Similarly, since you can cut down on your opponents’ angles, you will have less distance to cover on your side of the pickleball court. You will not have to run all over the pickleball court to track down your opponents’ shots. Instead, you will be more efficient with your energy.
- Your shots will be easier, as you can hit down on the pickleball when you play at the Kitchen line. When playing back at the baseline or in the transition area, you are less able to hit down on the pickleball. Playing at the Kitchen line gives you that ability, which is one of the best ways to cause your opponents to make forced errors. Your shots will also have less distance to travel, as you will be only seven feet from the pickleball net.
These benefits of playing at the Non-Volley Zone line lead to the most important reason to get to the Kitchen line as soon as possible—most points in pickleball are won at the Non-Volley Zone line.
So, as soon as you oblige by the sport of pickleball’s “2-bounce” or “3-hit” rule—in other words, let the serve bounce and the return of serve bounce (as applicable)—move into the Kitchen line as soon as possible and win more points on the pickleball court.
And, don’t forget to do these three things as you move into the Kitchen line quickly:
- Follow the flight of the pickleball in order to cover the most likely shots from your opponents;
- Split step before your opponents make contact in order to prepare for your shot; and
- Stay linked with your partner (about six to eight feet away) to avoid leaving open holes on the pickleball court.
Bottom line: Move into the Kitchen line quickly!