If you’ve played or watched pickleball, you’ve likely heard opponents shout “Erne!” when a player unleashes a particular shot. So what exactly is this unusual term, and why does this shot flummox so many players? Read on to unlock the secrets of the Erne.
What is an erne in pickleball?
An erne shot in pickleball refers to hitting the ball in such a way that it dies upon landing on the opponent’s side of the court. The goal is to catch your opponent off-guard with an unpredictably soft shot versus slamming the ball hard cross-court. Successfully landing an erne allows a player to win the point outright or move up to the non-volley zone for an easy put-away volley.
So why is it called an “erne shot”? The name comes from the Eurasian sea eagle known as the Erne. This majestic bird is known for its ability to cruise at high altitudes before swooping down and plucking fish from lakes with its talons. An erne in flight is nearly silent until it attacks its prey.
In the same vein, a well-executed pickleball erne shot catches opponents unprepared for its feather-light drop over the net. The ball floats just over the tape, only to die abruptly upon touching down inside the court. If you blink, you’ll miss it!
Why Master the Erne Shot?
The Erne is invaluable because it allows you to confuse and overwhelm your opponent. While slamming the ball hard may play into an opponent’s strength at returning power shots, even advanced players can be confounded by the unpredictability of the edge.
By mixing up speed, spin, and placement, the erne shot enables you to move your opponent out of position and drag them into “no man’s land.” Their hasty retreat from the net often opens up an easy put-away volley for the erne shooter. Ultimately, it’s an ideal way to win points and apply consistent pressure.
3 Drills to Perfect Your Erne Shot
So, how can you master the erne shot and add it to your pickleball arsenal? Here are three essential drills that can help you improve your erne shot and make it more effective and consistent.
Drill 1: Erne Footwork
The first drill is to practice the footwork for the erne shot. The footwork is crucial for getting into position and hitting the ball with balance and power. The footwork for the erne shot depends on whether you are shooting a forehand or a backhand erne.
For a forehand erne, you want to use a cross-step. This means that you step across your body with your outside foot (the foot that is farther from the net) and then bring your inside foot (the foot that is closer to the net) behind it. This way, you can cover more ground and get closer to the net. You also want to keep your paddle in front of you and ready to hit the ball.
For a backhand erne, you want to use a shuffle step. This means that you move your feet sideways, parallel to the net, without crossing them. This way, you can maintain your balance and stability. You also want to keep your paddle in front of you and ready to hit the ball.
To practice the footwork for the erne shot, you can use a cone or a marker to indicate where you want to hit the ball. You can start from the baseline or the service line and then run or jump to the cone and hit the ball with a forehand or a backhand erne. You can do this with or without a partner or a ball machine. The key is to focus on your footwork and your paddle position.
Drill 2: Erne Timing
The second drill is to practice the timing for the erne shot. The timing is essential for hitting the ball before it bounces and avoiding a fault. The timing for the erne shot depends on the speed and the height of the ball from the opponent.
For a fast and low ball, you want to hit the erne shot as soon as possible before the ball drops below the net. This means that you have to react quickly and move forward aggressively. You also want to hit the ball with a flat or a downward angle to keep it in the court.
For a slow and high ball, you want to hit the erne shot at the peak of the ball’s arc, when it is the highest above the net. This means that you have to wait patiently and move forward smoothly. You also want to hit the ball with an upward or a sideways angle to create more power and spin.
To practice the timing for the erne shot, you can use different types of balls to simulate different scenarios. You can use a regular pickleball, a foam ball, a tennis ball, or a wiffle ball. You can also use different types of paddles, such as a wood paddle, a graphite paddle, or a composite paddle. You can do this with or without a partner or a ball machine. The key is to focus on your timing and your paddle angle.
Drill 3: Erne Placement
The third drill is to practice the placement for the erne shot. The placement is essential for making the Erne shot effective and winning the point. The placement for the erne shot depends on the position and the movement of the opponent.
For an opponent who is close to the net and stationary, you want to hit the Erne shot away from them, either cross-court or down the line. This way, you can create more distance and angle and make it harder for them to reach the ball.
For an opponent who is far from the net and moving, you want to hit the Erne shot towards them, either cross-court or down the line. This way, you can catch them off guard and make them hit a weak or awkward return.
To practice the placement for the erne shot, you can use different targets to aim for. You can use cones, buckets, towels, or chalk lines to mark other areas of the court. You can also use different colours or numbers to indicate different levels of difficulty. You can do this with or without a partner or a ball machine. The key is to focus on your placement and your accuracy.
The erne shot is a powerful and advanced shot in pickleball that can give you an edge over your opponents. However, it is not easy to master and requires a lot of practice and skill.
By doing these three drills, you can improve your footwork, timing, and placement for the erne shot and make it more effective and consistent. Remember always to be safe and respectful when doing the erne shot and avoid hitting the net or the opponent.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the non-volley zone in pickleball?
The kitchen, spanning 7 feet on both sides of the net, is the non-volley zone. Players must not strike the ball pre-bounce while within this zone or touching its boundary.
What is the difference between a cross-step and a shuffle-step?
A cross-step is when you step across your body with your outside foot and then bring your inside foot behind it. A shuffle-step is when you move your feet sideways, parallel to the net, without crossing them. A cross-step is used for a forehand erne, while a shuffle-step is used for a backhand erne.
What are some factors that affect the timing and the angle of the Erne shot?
Some factors that affect the timing and the angle of the erne shot are the speed and the height of the ball from the opponent, the position and the movement of the opponent, and the type of paddle and ball used.
What are some benefits of doing the Erne shot?
Some benefits of doing the erne shot are that it can surprise and pressure the opponent, it can create more distance and angle for the shot, and it can end the point quickly and decisively.
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