If you enjoy a good workout, a fun game, and sports with giggle-inducing names, then pickleball might be the right activity for you. This paddle ball sport combines the best of tennis, ping pong, and badminton to deliver a two- or four-player game of hitting a ball over a net.
Like every other official sport, pickleball comes with specific rules and regulations. Today, we’re going to focus on pickleball volley rules and how you can nail the technique of the volley.
We’ll start with the most basic of questions: what are the pickleball volley rules? From there, we can turn up the intensity a bit and really delve into one of the basics of this high-energy sport.
If you’re looking for a complete beginner’s guide to pickleball check out: Pickleball Strategy: Complete Beginners Guide!
What is a Volley in Pickleball?
According to the official rules outlined by USA Pickleball, a volley is “a ball hit in the air before it bounces onto the court during a rally.” So, essentially, a volley entails a successful hit that occurs before the ball is allowed to bounce.
Many pickleball players utilize volleys to strategize their gameplay, making it more difficult for their opponent to return during a rally. Volleys are also useful in returning a challenging ball that’s been hit low and hard. With a quick reaction, players can hit a return volley to save the point.
Check out this video to see the 3 common mistakes that are made when volleying:
Volleys are common athletic moves made across the board in sports like tennis, table tennis, and, of course, badminton. However, when you are participating in a game of pickleball, there are a few rules you have to follow for your volley.
Because a volley is usually a quick, reactionary move in pickleball, it’s nice to know that you can perform it using either a backhand or forehand approach; there are no rules against either type of swing.
However, players performing a volley cannot implement a backswing – meaning that they must avoid a swinging motion. Instead, a player should hit the ball using a “blocking” motion. The goal during a volley is to push the ball over the net rather than hit it.
During a volley, your paddle must be in a vertical position so that the face is square to the ball. Focusing on this can help you ensure that you don’t accidentally use a backswing. This position helps promote the blocking and pushing motion that we mentioned above.
You may only hit a volley during any given point after the ball has bounced twice. A player must wait until the ball has bounced from the serve and then bounced again on the return. Then, a volley can be hit at any point during that rally.
One of the most critical rules concerning a volley is the pickleball non-volley zone. This zone is a portion of the court that’s commonly referred to as “the kitchen.”
A pickleball court is very similar to a tennis court, but it uses different lines in various locations to split up the playing area. The non-volley zone, or the kitchen, is the portion of the course between the net and the non-volley line.
The non-volley line is positioned seven feet from the net at the front of the court on both sides, giving players a considerable amount of space where volleys are prohibited.
In the non-volley zone, players cannot hit a volley. If a player hits a volley while in this zone, the result of that play will be a fault. Therefore, a player can only hit a ball in the non-volley zone once that ball has bounced on the ground.
Over the Line Rules
The pickleball non-volley zone implements strict rules to ensure that every player is clear on what they can and cannot do. The over the line rules help clarify a few details about the kitchen.
The non-volley line, which is placed seven feet from the net, is strictly a part of the non-volley zone. That being said, players cannot touch this line with their feet while volleying. If they do, the hit is considered a fault.
In fact, it’s not just the feet that can’t touch this line – it’s any part of a participating player. This actually includes clothing and equipment as well. So, when a player is volleying just behind the non-volley line, they must not allow their paddle to cross the line. Otherwise, the play will result in a fault.
Additionally, should any piece of a player’s clothing or equipment fall into the non-volley zone during a volley, then the result will be a fault. In other words, make sure you hold onto your hat during an intense volley moment.
Players must adhere to the over the line rules even after the ball has gone over the net and to their opponent’s side. If their opponent misses the shot and the ball is dead, you still can’t touch this line or enter the non-volley zone.
The level of seriousness presented by the non-volley zone in pickleball skyrockets when you extend to partners’ play (or four players). When playing on a team, the same rules of the kitchen still apply.
However, things can quickly become intense. A partner can physically hold back their teammate to prevent them from crossing into the non-volley zone. So, if you spot your partner losing their balance, you can pull them away from the zone to impede their momentum.
Just be aware that you also cannot cross into the zone, nor can anything you’re wearing or using. You may be able to pull your partner away, but if your paddle crosses over in the process, the point is invalid.
Can I Ever Enter the Kitchen?
The short answer is: yes, you and your partner can step foot in the kitchen. You may do so anytime that a volley is not in play. You can even hit groundstrokes from the kitchen, so long as the ball has bounced on the ground first.
The best pickleball practice is to be aware of your footing at all times. Players can absolutely move out of the kitchen to hit a volley, but they must make sure that both feet have been established outside of the non-volley line before they do so.
Using a volley can be extremely effective in both singles and doubles pickleball at securing points for your team. This game-changing shot has proven to be an essential strategy, often resulting in very difficult-to-hit balls.
So how can you maximize your game using the volley? Check out some of these tips to try during your next match.
Make the Ready Stance Feel Natural
Your ready stance is the position of your body when you’re getting ready for any particular shot. If you want to hit a good and successful volley, your whole body needs to be on the same page.
Everyone’s ready stance may look a little bit different, but generally, you should aim for the same stance every time you hit a volley. Stand facing forward with your feet shoulder-width apart, and knees slightly bent.
When prepping for a volley, hold your paddle with a backhand grip. In this grip, your paddle should be parallel to the net when you go to make the shot.
Preparing your stance in this way will ensure that you’re ready to hit either a backhand or forehand volley without having to adjust your grip or your wrist position. Likewise, nailing your ready stance allows you to make your shot quickly.
Taking the time to practice your ready stance can make all the difference. You want this stance to feel as natural as possible so that you don’t have to overthink it when the shot comes your way.
Aim Your Volley
The ultimate goal of a volley is to hit the ball hard and low, making it more difficult for your opponent to return in. In most cases, a volley will either create a challenging angle or force your opponent to backpedal in order to hit it.
That being said, learning to aim your volley can prove to be a highly coveted skill in the game of pickleball.
When you hit a volley, you should aim to direct the ball away from your opponent. Doing so forces them to move faster and reach awkwardly, which often results in a point for your team. Practicing the angle of your paddle can help you achieve this.
You can also work on opening the face of your paddle more to increase the distance of your volley, driving the ball deep down the court.
Pickleball volley rules are like any other sports rules: you simply have to learn them and put them into practice. In no time, you will know them like the back of your hand – or paddle.
A volley in pickleball can be a very effective and impressive shot if you work hard and master the technique. By adhering to the rules of the non-volley zone and staying out of the kitchen, you could be serving up some extra points.
Stick to these rules and give it a go. You may have just discovered your new favorite sport!
Looking for more? Here are some of our other guides we recommend:
Learn: About Pickleball, Why is it Called Pickleball?, Pickleball Rules, Pickleball Court Dimensions, What is Pickleball?, What is a Fault in Pickleball?, and Pickleball Singles vs Doubles – Strategies and Rules.