What Is An Ernie In Pickleball?

Pickleball, a sport beloved for its unique blend of athleticism and strategy, is full of intriguing terminology and techniques. One such term that has sparked curiosity and enthusiasm among players is the “Ernie.” If you’ve ever wondered, “What is an Ernie in pickleball?” you’re not alone. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the mysteries surrounding Ernie and provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to master this game-changing technique.

Imagine a shot that can turn the tide of a pickleball match, leaving your opponents baffled and your team in control. That’s precisely what Ernie does. This powerful yet elusive technique is like a hidden gem in the world of pickleball, known only to those who dare to embrace its challenge. As we journey through this article, we will explore Ernie’s essence, its strategic significance, and how you can incorporate it into your game to become a true pickleball master.

Before we delve into the intricate details of Ernie, let’s set the stage. Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, played on a court with a lowered net. While it’s accessible to beginners, it’s also beloved by experienced players for its intricacies. The Ernie is one such intricacy, a technique that requires skill, timing, and finesse. As you continue reading, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what makes Ernie special and why it’s a must-know skill in the world of pickleball.

 What Is an Ernie

An Ernie in pickleball refers to a bold and aggressive move made by a player positioned near the non-volley zone (the “kitchen”). Typically, the player performs a quick and surprising volley by hitting the ball out of the air before it bounces. The goal is to catch the opponent off guard and score a winning shot, often by angling it off the sidelines or into the kitchen. The Ernie is a high-risk, high-reward play that demands precision, anticipation, and excellent timing.

The Significance of the Ernie

The Ernie is not just a flashy trick shot; it’s a strategic play that can change the dynamics of a pickleball match. Here’s why it holds such significance:

Surprise Element

The Ernie is unexpected and can catch your opponents off guard, leaving them with limited time to react.

Pressure on Opponents

Successfully executing an Ernie puts immense pressure on your opponents, making them question their positioning and strategy.

Winning Opportunities

When done right, Ernie can result in a winning shot, securing valuable points for your team.

Control and Dominance

It can help you control the net and dominate the kitchen, giving you a positional advantage.

Mind Games

 The psychological impact of an Ernie can affect your opponent’s confidence and decision-making.

How to Master the Ernie

Mastery of the Ernie requires practice, skill, and an understanding of its nuances. Here are the key steps to perfecting this game-changing technique:


To execute an Ernie, position yourself close to the non-volley zone (kitchen) line. This gives you a better angle for the shot and minimises your opponent’s reaction time.


Watch your opponent’s shot carefully and anticipate when the ball will reach a height suitable for an Ernie. Timing is critical.

Quick Reflexes

You’ll need fast reflexes to make contact with the ball before it bounces. Keep your paddle up and be prepared to strike at the right moment.

Angle and Placement

Ernie often involves hitting the ball diagonally. Aim for the sidelines or the kitchen to maximise your chances of scoring.


Consistent practice is vital to mastering Ernie. Work on your timing, positioning, and precision in various game situations and with different partners.

Advanced Ernie Techniques

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can explore advanced Ernie techniques to further elevate your game. Some of these include:

Cross-Court Ernie

 Instead of aiming straight ahead, try hitting a cross-court Ernie to keep your opponents guessing and create unpredictable angles.

Topspin Ernie

 Add topspin to your Ernie to make the ball dip quickly over the net, making it even more challenging for your opponents.

Dink and Ernie Combo

Set up your Ernie by starting with a dink shot, luring your opponents closer to the net, and then surprising them with the quick Ernie.

Ernie on the Return

Use the Ernie technique on your return of serve to immediately put pressure on your opponents.


Communicate with your partner to coordinate Ernie plays effectively, making it harder for your opponents to defend.

 When to Employ the Ernie

Strategic use of the Ernie is essential for success. Here are situations in which you should consider employing this game-changing technique:

At the Kitchen Line

At the Kitchen Line

The Ernie is most effective when you’re near the non-volley zone, as it minimises your opponent’s reaction time.

Return of Serve

 Surprise your opponents with an Ernie on the return of serve to gain an early advantage.

Mid-Rally Opportunity

 Use Ernie when you anticipate a high ball that gives you a clear Ernie opportunity.

Pressure Moments

 In high-pressure situations, Ernie can unnerve your opponents and shift the momentum in your favour.

Mixing Up Your Game

 Employ the Ernie strategically to keep your opponents guessing and to create variety in your playstyle.

Ways To Hit A Legal Erne In Pickleball

Roundabout Erne

“Roundabout Erne” is not a commonly recognized term or technique in pickleball as of my last knowledge update in September 2021. It’s possible that this term has emerged or evolved within the pickleball community since then, or it may be a regional or less common variation of the standard “Ernie” shot. To provide accurate information about what “Roundabout Erne” means in the context of pickleball, I would recommend consulting more recent pickleball resources, experts, or players who might have knowledge of this term’s specific meaning and usage.

Crossing The Kitchen

“Crossing the Kitchen” is a phrase used in pickleball to describe a particular strategy or situation on the court. In pickleball, the “kitchen” refers to the non-volley zone, which is a seven-foot area on each side of the net where players are not allowed to hit the ball on the fly. Instead, they must let the ball bounce before hitting it when they are in the kitchen.

“Crossing the Kitchen” typically refers to a situation where a player moves from a position within the kitchen to a position outside of the kitchen to hit the ball before it bounces. This can be a strategic move used to put pressure on opponents, gain an advantage in a rally, or set up for a particular shot.

It’s important to note that while crossing the kitchen can be an effective strategy in some situations, it can also be risky, as it may result in a fault if the ball is volleyed (hit on the fly) from within the kitchen. Players must be mindful of the rules and their positioning when attempting to cross the kitchen during a pickleball game.

 Jumping Over The Kitchen

“Jumping over the kitchen” is not a standard or recognized term or technique in pickleball. The “kitchen” in pickleball refers to the non-volley zone, a seven-foot area on each side of the net where players are not allowed to hit the ball on the fly. Instead, they must let the ball bounce before striking it when they are within this zone.

Jumping over the kitchen is not a legal or commonly practised manoeuvre in pickleball. Players are expected to maintain their positions on the court and not physically cross or jump over the kitchen when making shots. Violating these rules can result in faults, and points may be awarded to the opposing team.

It’s important to play pickleball according to the established rules and guidelines to ensure fair and competitive gameplay. While creative shots and strategies are welcome, jumping over the kitchen is not a sanctioned or recognized technique in the sport.


 Is Ernie a risky play?

Yes, the Ernie is considered a high-risk, high-reward play. It can catch your opponents off guard but requires excellent timing and precision.

Can anyone learn Ernie, or is it only for advanced players?

The Ernie is a technique that can be learned by players of various skill levels, but it often requires practice and experience to execute effectively.

 What type of paddle is best for Ernie shots?

A paddle with a balance between control and power is ideal for Ernie shots, as it allows you to maintain precision while generating enough force.

 Are there any defensive strategies against Ernie?

Yes, opponents can anticipate the Ernie and position themselves accordingly. However, the element of surprise remains a key advantage.

 Is the Ernie used in professional pickleball tournaments?

Yes, Ernie is occasionally employed by professional players in high-stakes matches. Its strategic value can be a game-changer even at the highest level.


In the world of pickleball, the Ernie is not just a shot;

It’s a game-changing strategy. “Dink” adds a layer of excitement and unpredictability to the game, making it a thrilling technique to master. While Ernie is a high-risk play, understanding when and how to employ it can be a decisive factor in your success on the court. With consistent practice and a deep understanding of Ernie’s intricacies, you can become a formidable player, leaving your opponents in awe of your strategic prowess.

So, the next time you step onto the pickleball court, remember the power of Ernie. Embrace the challenge, work on your timing, and watch as this game-changing technique elevates your game to new heights, creating unforgettable moments and victories on the court.


Leave a Comment