Many players in my beginner clinics are often confused about when they are allowed/supposed to or not allowed/supposed to enter the no volley zone—aka the kitchen—to play a ball.
Additionally, many of them mistakenly believe that they can’t step into the kitchen until the ball bounces.
This misconception not only makes them late getting to the point of contact with the ball to execute a shot, but also creates a situation where they are still standing in the kitchen after completing their shot.
The first thing I tell players is to reach into the NVZ and play as many balls as possible in the air.
Letting the ball bounce and having to step into the NVZ to execute a shot should actually be our second option of choice in shot selection.
If I can comfortably, confidently, and effectively execute a shot without letting the ball bounce, this should be my first option of choice in shot selection.
However, if I anticipate that I will have to step into the NVZ in order to make contact with the ball, I need to commit my movement to the location of that bounce as early as possible.
I want my step(s) into the NVZ to be coordinated and sequenced so that my body is in position with the location and timing of the bounce of the ball.
Upon accomplishing that, I want to execute my shot in a timely manner and return to a position at the 7-foot zone line, ready for the next ball.
So, don’t hesitate to enter the NVZ/kitchen before the ball is bouncing on your side of the net. The proper timing of your movement to the contact point of the ball on the court will allow you to execute a more effective shot and permit you more time to recover back into a position and be ready for the next ball.
Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.