A reader recently asked us a question regarding his club’s “local” pickleball rule. It was related to the non-volley zone. As we travel around the country, we encounter many players that have been told lots of things about the non-volley zone. Some are true…others no more than local lore. Today, we debunk three common non-volley zone myths.
NVZ Myth #1: “Must Bounce First”
We were recently playing in Palm Springs when I overheard a disagreement on a neighboring court. Two relatively new players were introducing two friends to the game of pickleball. That’s great! However, during the course of play, a fault was assessed when a player entered the non-volley zone before the ball bounced. Wrong!
The rule clearly states
9.E. A player may step on the non-volley line or enter the non-volley zone at any time except when that player is volleying the ball. There is no violation if your partner returns the ball while you are standing in the non-volley zone. A player may enter the non-volley zone before or after returning any ball that bounces.
So often when we are introducing new players to the game we find them stuck behind the non-volley zone, thinking they must wait for the ball to bounce before they move forward to retrieve a short ball. This is not correct. If you can see the ball will be short, move forward and get in position. We all know that we have more success when we stop our body from moving before we make contact with the ball.
NVZ Myth #2: “You Can’t Stay There”
I once had a player chastise me for standing on the non-volley zone line while my partner was returning the serve. Like myth #1, there is absolutely nothing in the rules that prohibits any player from standing in the non-volley zone during play. You might also hear people say, as soon as you hit a dink in the non-volley zone you must exit. Of course, on one hand, this makes sense. If a player remained in the non-volley zone against a skilled opponent, the opponent would likely snap a ball back at chest level directly to the player requiring him to volley the ball and thereby fault. But the rule is clear
9.F. A player may stay inside the non-volley zone to return balls that bounce. That is, there is no violation if a player does not exit the non-volley zone after hitting a ball that bounces.
NVZ Myth 3: “The Non-Volley Zone is 3D”
The reader’s question I referenced above was related to the definition of the non-volley zone. At his club, it seems, they had defined the rule as “on or over”, i.e. thinking the non-volley zone is three-dimensional. Clearly, this interpretation changes the game dramatically…particularly for those skilled players that can jump outside the court in anticipation of a sideline volley or after hitting a volley. As a referee, it would also make my job harder and would certainly warrant instant replay cameras to determine if the plane of the paddle crossed the non-volley zone line.
Again the IFP Rulebook, is very clear
9.A. The non-volley zone is the area of the court (not the space above it) bounded by the two sidelines, the non- volley line, and the net. The non-volley line and the sidelines are included in the non-volley zone. (Revised April 20, 2015)
We’re certain that there are other myths regarding play in the non-volley zone. Please share the ones you have heard in the comments below.