History of the Kitchen in Pickleball

Everyone who plays pickleball knows that the sport is played on a court that’s identical to a badminton court…except for one key difference. While badminton’s short service line, or “No Volley Zone” line, is at 6’6″ from the net, pickleball’s NVZ line is at 7′. Why is pickleball’s kitchen a full 6 inches longer than badminton’s? There’s a really simple, kind of unexpected answer: it just feels right. 

Overview of a pickleball court

The answer comes from Dennis Dacey, USAPA Rules Chair, who explains that “over the first two years of the development of the sport, the NVZ was conceived and the line was tried in various 6” increments. It was at this time that those involved agreed that the 7’ line worked best. It had nothing to do with the badminton line then or now.” Dacey goes on to explain that “one would not think so, but 6” makes a big difference when playing the game with more advanced players. Having the additional 6” makes it easier to make good drop shots and to make for a more equal playing field with both tall and short players.” Pickleball may have borrowed badminton’s court size, but pickleball is faster-paced and played with a ball that bounces and moves quite differently than a shuttlecock. It makes sense that a NVZ that works perfectly well in badminton may not be the ideal fit for pickleball.

Interested in learning more about the history of pickleball? Check out an interview with Barney McCallum, one of the sport’s inventors, here. It’s near the bottom of the page, and is the video titled “Pickleball Barney McCallum Interview.”



4 thoughts on “History of the Kitchen in Pickleball

    • Hi Sue! What a great question – none of us knew the answer, so I did some digging. The general consensus on the USAPA Forum is that it’s a term borrowed from shuffleboard. As one of the posters said, “The kitchen is the minus 10 area at the back of the scoring zone. Hence you want to stay out of that -10 zone (the kitchen).” Whether or not this is where it really came from, who knows… but it makes sense to me!

  1. That it is not the same as the badminton service line makes for much confusion when pickleball is played on a badminton court but with a lowered net. Newbies to these multi-use courts offtimes end up “in the kitchen”. That these courts are used for both games is quite common. While 6″ may make a difference in some conversations, it would not change the game if the lines were the same.

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