Contributed by Dr. Kathryn Thomas, USAPA Ambassador, Morro Bay, California
Some of our players have asked for clarification and simplification of NVZ rules. So here is my attempt:
The Non-Volley Zone (or Kitchen) extends between the sidelines and the two lines that are seven feet from the net on each side. It includes the surface only, not the air space within this area.
A volley – a ball that is hit without first bouncing – may NOT be hit within this area. If a player steps into the NVZ and hits a ball that has bounced in the kitchen, and then steps back out and hits a volley, this is legal. However, if the player hits the first ball inside the NVZ, does not get back out in time, and hits the next ball from within the NVZ without letting it bounce first, it is a fault.
Any time a player steps into the NVZ, even just on the line, even for an instant, and hits the ball on the fly (no bounce) while being in the NVZ, it is a fault. IF YOUR FORWARD MOMENTUM CARRIES YOU, OR ANY ARTICLE OF YOUR CLOTHING, ONTO THE GROUND INSIDE THE NVZ, IT IS A FAULT. It does not matter if the ball has been hit by you, returned by the other side, and hit back by your partner, if you are still trying to stay out of the NVZ, but step in as a result of the forward motion of your last shot, IT IS A FAULT.
You can be in the NVZ at any time, without it being a fault. It only becomes a fault if you hit the ball back without letting it bounce while you are in there, or immediately after hitting it as a result of your forward momentum. This is why it is important to step in, hit a bounced ball, and then immediately step back out. YOU DO NOT WANT TO HANG OUT IN THE NVZ. Smart players will aim for you, trying to make you commit a fault.
Anyone on the court may call a KItchen violation. If you know you were in the Kitchen and do not call it on yourself, you are cheating. Period. If someone else calls it on you, and you hit a volley, you committed a fault. Period. ANYONE ON THE COURT MAY CALL A KITCHEN VIOLATION on any other player. Unless you are positive the ball bounced first, the call stands. Period.
Read Section 9 of the Official Tournament Handbook for more information.
If still in doubt, look for the ambassador at whatever court you are playing. If you believe someone is consistently violating the NVZ rule, and refuses to accept the call by another player, ask for someone to come watch your game. Hopefully, it will not come to that.