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Mastering the Erne: Tricks and Tips from the Pros

Ever seen someone pull off an Erne and thought, “Wow, that’s some serious skill”? If you’re looking to up your game with some advanced techniques, mastering the Erne should definitely be on your radar. This move isn’t just for show; it’s a strategic play that can throw your opponents off balance and turn the tide in your favor.

How to Execute a Legal Erne

Want to ensure your Erne is within the rules? Here’s how: Start your jump from behind the non-volley zone line and make sure you land outside the sideline. Keep both feet clear of the kitchen line during your jump to stay within the rules.

Also, be mindful of the net. You can cross the net plane after you hit the ball, but avoid touching the net or its posts to keep your move legal.

Practice makes perfect: Start by jumping without the ball to get your footwork down. Then, bring in a partner and practice with more game-like scenarios. Timing is key, so focus on syncing your jump with your opponent’s shot to catch them off guard.

6 Key Tips for Consistent Ernes

  1. Understand the Set-Up Conditions:
    • Opponent’s Position: Initiate an Erne when you see your opponent is stretched or off-balance, particularly if they’re forced to hit a low ball.
    • Visual Cues: Look for the moment your opponent looks down to hit the ball. This typically indicates a reduced awareness of the court, providing an ideal opportunity for an Erne.
  2. Optimal Positioning:
    • Forehand Advantage: Many players find it easier to execute an Erne from their forehand side. This position offers better reach and control, making it easier to surprise your opponent.
    • Proximity to Sidelines: Position yourself closer to the sidelines. This not only gives you a better angle for the Erne but also keeps your movements within the legal bounds of the court.
  3. Practice with Intention:
    • Lower-Level Play: Utilize games with lower-level players to practice Ernes. It’s a safer environment to experiment with your timing and positioning without significant risk.
    • Drills: Regularly drill the Erne with a partner by setting up scenarios that mimic ideal Erne opportunities. Focus on your footwork and the quick transition needed to jump the kitchen successfully.
  4. Timing is Everything:
    • Wait for the Right Moment: Timing your move is crucial. Initiate your Erne just as your opponent commits to their shot. Too early, and they’ll adjust their play; too late, and you miss the opportunity.
    • Watch the Paddle Face: Observing where your opponent’s paddle is facing can give you a clue about where the next shot is headed. This will help you anticipate and position yourself for the Erne.
  5. Communication and Coordination:
    • Teamwork: Make sure your partner knows when you’re planning to attempt an Erne so they can cover the necessary court area. This is crucial in doubles play where coordination can make or break your strategy.
  6. Footwork Practice:
    • Stepping Around: For those who are less comfortable with jumping, practicing stepping around the kitchen quickly can also be effective.

Advanced Tips for Seasoned Players

For more experienced players looking to refine their Erne execution:

  • Anticipate Cross-Court Shots: Often, players will avoid hitting down your line if they see you preparing for an Erne. Anticipate this and be ready to adapt quickly.
  • Use Misdirection: Sometimes, acting like you’re out of position or overly focused on another area can bait your opponent into hitting where you want them to.
  • Perfect Your Fake Movements: A well-timed fake can draw your opponent into making a mistake, setting you up perfectly for an Erne. Practice feigning a movement towards one side and quickly executing the Erne in the opposite direction once your opponent has committed to their shot.

Community Wisdom: Top Tips from Players for Executing an Erne

When it comes to mastering the Erne in pickleball, who better to learn from than the players who have been there and done that?

Here are some of the best tips from the pickleball community:

  • Positioning and Timing: “Find your moment when you’re on the ad court guarding your line. If your partner sends a dink to the outer foot of the opponent directly opposite, and they step back or look down, that’s your cue to make your move,” shared one seasoned player. This is about reading the play and knowing when your opponent is least likely to track your movement.
  • Forehand Zone Advantage: “The best tip I received was to initiate the Erne when I’m playing on the left side (as a right-hander). Aim a precise dink near the line at their feet. As soon as you see your opponent’s cap brim—that’s your signal to start the attack,” another player explained. Using your forehand gives you a larger reach and better control, making it easier to execute the Erne.
  • Practice with Varied Skill Levels: “A great way to get the hang of Ernes is by practicing during games with lower-level players. This allows you to experiment with moving toward the sideline after a straight dink exchange. It’s basic but sets a foundation for understanding the movement and timing,” a player suggested. This practice can help you get a feel for the mechanics without the pressure of high-level play.
  • Anticipation and Opportunity: “I managed my first successful Erne by setting it up with a straightforward dink to the kitchen corner while positioned on the left. It’s all about creating the right moment and then seizing it,” remarked another player who recently mastered the Erne.
  • Alternative Setups: “Another strategy involves playing a drop shot to the left side of your opponent, then acting as if you’re going for a cross-court poach but quickly switching to execute the Erne when they try to return down your line,” shared an enthusiastic player. This tip is about misleading your opponent to open up space for the Erne.

Making Every Erne Count

If you’re keen on mastering the Erne shot in pickleball, let me tell you, it’s all about putting in the time, staying patient, and nailing your timing. From my own experience, once you start weaving these tips into your game, you’ll start to see that executing an Erne isn’t just a flashy move—it’s a strategic game-changer.

So, keep at it. Stay sharp and ready to make your move. Believe me, with a little persistence and focus, those jaw-dropping Ernes will soon become a natural part of your play. You’ll find yourself pulling them off almost instinctively.


Q. What is an Erne in pickleball?

An Erne is an advanced pickleball shot where the player jumps over the non-volley zone (kitchen) to hit the ball, usually catching the opponent off guard. It’s a strategic move that requires precise timing and positioning.

Q. How do I execute a legal Erne?

To execute a legal Erne, start your jump from behind the non-volley zone line and land outside the sideline. Ensure both feet are clear of the kitchen line during your jump and avoid touching the net or its posts.

Q. What are the key tips for consistent Ernes?

Key tips include understanding the set-up conditions, optimal positioning, practicing with intention, timing your move, communicating with your partner, and practicing footwork.

Q. How can I improve my Erne execution?

For seasoned players, anticipate cross-court shots, use misdirection, and perfect your fake movements to improve your Erne execution.

Q. What are some community tips for mastering the Erne?

Community tips include focusing on positioning and timing, using your forehand zone advantage, practicing with varied skill levels, anticipating opportunities, and employing alternative setups.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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