What is an Ernie in Pickleball – Pickleball Rise

Do you know what is an ernie in pickleball, or have you ever heard of one? In pickleball terms, an ernie is a clever shot. The Erne is a pickleball shot in which you volley the ball while leaping around the Non-Volley Zone (also known as the Kitchen) or after going around or through the Kitchen and resetting your feet outside the border, close to the Kitchen.

Executing the Erne adds a tactical dimension to the game, putting opponents under pressure to execute accurate strokes. This strategic play has the potential to cause unforced errors, particularly when opponents are distracted by the dynamic movements around the court, emphasizing the need to focus on the pickleball itself.

Understanding the Erne shot in pickleball is about more than just adding a showy move to your game. It’s about becoming a flexible player capable of shifting the game’s momentum when the stakes are high. In this lengthy explanation, I’ll walk you through all of the major features of one of the game’s greatest shots, the Erne. Let’s get started and discover the nuances together.

What is an Ernie in Pickleball

What is an Ernie in Pickleball?

what is an ernie in pickleball
what is an ernie in pickleball

In pickleball, an Ernie is a complex and startling shot named after Ernie Perry, who was the first to use it in a competition. It is an action in which you volley the ball from outside the court, near the net, and over the head of your opponent.

It is legal as long as you do not touch the net or the non-volley zone (also known as the kitchen). It’s a difficult shot to pull off and takes a lot of skill and practice. It is also a risky shot since if you make a mistake, you may lose the rally. An Ernie may be incredibly successful if you catch your opponent off surprise and hit the ball with strength and accuracy.

How to Set up an Erne Pickleball Shot

To set up an Erne, you must trick your opponent into landing the perfect shot. This might include enticing your opponent to dink back at you and towards the sideline. Then you may leap over the kitchen corner and attack the ball near the net. This frequently leaves them stunned and defenseless.

Depending on how you approach the kitchen, there are three ways to set up an erne pickleball shot. Here are the three possibilities:

1 – Roundabout Erne

This is the most popular method for configuring an Erne. As your opponent hits the ball, you go from the center of the court to the side of the kitchen. You sprint around the kitchen and hit the ball towards the net from outside the court. By doing so, you may surprise your opponent with a swift and powerful shot while avoiding contact with the kitchen.

Roundabout Erne
Roundabout Erne

2 – Crossing the Kitchen

This is a more audacious method of establishing an Erne. As your opponent strikes the ball, you go from the center of the court to the side of the kitchen. You cross the kitchen and hit the ball towards the net from outside the court. In this way, you might close the gap and take the opponent by surprise with a quick, unexpected shot. However, you must be careful not to touch the kitchen or the net when you cross them.

Crossing the Kitchen
Crossing the Kitchen

3 – Jumping Over the Kitchen

This is the trickiest technique to set up an Erne. You jump over the kitchen and hit the ball towards the net from outside the court. In this way, you can showcase your athleticism while also surprising your opponent with a fantastic and powerful shot. To pull this trick, you must be extremely skillful and confident since you must time your jump and strike exactly.

Jumping Over the Kitchen
Jumping Over the Kitchen

What are Other Pickleball Ernie Rules to Consider when Hitting?

Consider these legal pickleball ernie rules when attempting an ernie shot:

  1. Non-Volley Zone Movement: When executing an Erne by moving through the non-volley zone, Make sure “both feet must make contact with the playing surface completely outside of the non-volley zone” before volleying the ball.
  2. Net Plane Crossing: Crossing the net plane before striking the ball is a mistake that should be avoided.
  3. Post-Shot Movement: A player, along with everything they are wearing or carrying, is permitted to cross the plane of the net after hitting the ball.
  4. Court and Net Etiquette: To preserve fair play and respect for the rules, players must avoid touching any part of the net system, the opponent’s court, or the opponent themselves while the ball is in play.
Rules For Erne in Pickleball

How to defend against an Erne?

The best approach to avoid being taken off guard by a pickleball ernie move is to stop it before it starts. When you see your opponent preparing for an Erne, play smart defense by hitting a cross-court dink or landing the ball in the middle of their non-volley zone. This interferes with their attempt, making it difficult for them to enter the court without violating the non-volley zone restrictions.

How to defend against an Erne?
How to defend against an Erne?

When you observe your opponent making a play for the Erne, go for a lob, adding another layer to your defensive approach.


The Erne is an essential weapon in pickleball, but it is not simple to master. Mastering advanced techniques takes time and attention, but once you’ve mastered the Erne, your game will be a force to be reckoned with on the court.

When your opponents know you have an aptitude for the Erne, you get a psychological edge. The uncertainty of when you may pull off this severe shot might cause them to reassess their game plan, trying to anticipate and counter your plays to prevent you from the Erne.


Is Ernie legal in Pickleball?

Yes, the Ernie is legal in Pickleball as long as the player performing it avoids touching the non-volley zone (kitchen) and hits the ball before it bounces. When done correctly, it’s a difficult but effective approach.

When should I attempt an Ernie in Pickleball?

When your opponents frequently hit high shots near the sideline, try an Ernie. Putting pressure on your opponents and taking control of the point is a smart play, but time and court awareness are key.

Can beginners use the Ernie in Pickleball?

While the Ernie is a more difficult technique, beginners can practice it and apply it as they gain experience. Because it involves great footwork and timing, novices should concentrate on learning fundamental shots before trying the Ernie.

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