If you are from my generation, chances are that the only Ernie you may know is Ernie of Burt and Ernie from watching Sesame Street with your kids. So, what the heck is an Erne in pickleball?
There are many silly sounding phrases in the sport of pickleball beginning with the name of the sport itself, not to mention dinking in the kitchen, which bring us to a shot called the Erne.
An Erne is an advanced shot on the pickleball court and is named after Erne Perry, who elevated the shot and first brought the shot into mainstream competitive play.
Fundamentally speaking, “an Erne” is a volley that is hit with our body in the air, traveling over the no volley zone/kitchen and eventually landing outside of the sidelines of the court.
So, by the book, let’s review the rules which would initiate the actual execution of an Erne.
Rule 9.B of the 2020 Official Rulebook for USA Pickleball provides that any contact with the Non-Volley Zone while hitting a volley (in other words, hitting the pickleball out of the air, without bouncing) is a fault – and this includes the swing, follow-through, and the momentum from the swing. All volleys – which includes all Ernes – must be executed outside of the Non-Volley Zone. Again, you may jump over the Non-Volley Zone, as long as you do not touch the Non-Volley Zone line or the Non-Volley Zone surface area, or, if you touch the Non-Volley Zone, then you must re-establish your feet outside of the Non-Volley Zone before hitting your Erne.
It’s sounds like a very spectacular, exciting, and thrilling shot to pull off.
However, if before reading this column the only Ernie you really did know was from Sesame Street, then as a coach – and simply from a safety factor – I do not recommend attempting to add this shot to your repertoire, because the number one injury in pickleball is falling. And let’s face it folks, no matter how athletically inclined we may be (were), we are not in our twenties anymore. Leave “the Erne” for the Yutes and the Pro’s.
If you want to add a trick shot to your game, I suggest learning how to hit a “Tweener” or a “Southpaw”, shots which I will define and explain in upcoming columns.
In the meantime, don’t be afraid to be creative with your shots and remember, simply put, the last player to hit the ball over the net and inside the lines wins the point!
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 Naples Pickleball Center and Training Academy at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.