What is an Erne?
On the surface, pickleball looks like a pretty simple game. As you gain experience, however, you’ll soon find that there are plenty of variations that are possible within each point. The “Erne” shot is a great example of this concept. Let’s take a look at what this shot is and how you might be able to use it to your advantage during an upcoming match.
A Non-Volley Zone Solution
The non-volley zone on a pickleball court – the area marked off near the net on both sides – has a huge impact on strategy. If you are standing in this area of the court, you can’t play a volley, meaning the ball has to bounce before you hit it. This prevents players from standing right up next to the net and just smashing every ball that comes over.
An Erne is an attempt to get around the influence of the non-volley zone. This is a shot that you play either while jumping over the corner of the non-volley zone, or while standing outside of it, off the court. As long as your feet aren’t in the non-volley zone area, you are free to play a shot (even if you are standing out of bounds).
It takes some practice to execute this play effectively. To jump over the corner of the non-volley zone, you’ll need to time your leap perfectly to strike the ball and then land out of bounds. Or, you could run around the corner of the non-volley zone to simply stand out of bounds, but you’ll still have to time it right to catch your opponent off-guard.
Reading the Situation
With a bit of practice, you can probably master the art of playing this shot from a technical perspective. What’s trickier, however, is finding a good opportunity in a game to put it into action. Most likely, you’ll want to consider it when your opponent is stuck in the corner and has an awkward angle back into the court. From that position, they’ll only have one direction to play their shot, so you can jump into action and take the ball out of the air for a smash. Pay attention to the flow of play and see if you can find just the right time to pull off this advanced move.