How to Identify and Execute an Erne in Pickleball

Top 5 Pro Player James Ignatowich

Hey guys, this is James Ignatowich, and today I’m going to cover how to master the Erne shot in pickleball. Many players often ask, “When should you go for the Erne, and how do you identify which shots are earnable and which ones aren’t?” The answer to these questions comes down to a couple of key factors.

Types of Erne Shots

First, let’s distinguish between two types of Erne shots: the reactionary Erne and the anticipation Erne.

Reactionary Erne

A reactionary Erne is when you see a ball that looks earnable and you immediately go for it. This type of Erne doesn’t involve much setup or anticipation; it’s more about recognizing the opportunity and taking it. This version of the Erne relies heavily on your athleticism and quick reflexes. You simply see the ball as earnable, jump over the kitchen, and take the shot.

Anticipation Erne

The anticipation Erne, on the other hand, requires a bit more strategy and foresight. You’ll often see professional players like Collin Johns utilize this approach. Instead of jumping over the kitchen immediately, they maneuver around it to set themselves up for the shot.

To successfully anticipate an Erne, you need to be aware of two main cues:

  1. Open Paddle Face and Step Back: If your opponent is on the same side as you and their paddle face is open while they take a step back, it’s likely they will hit the ball down the line. This is the perfect time to prepare for an Erne, as the open paddle face and body position indicate a down-the-line shot, which is easier to intercept.
  2. Opponent Off the Line with an Open Paddle Face: If your opponent is off the line and their paddle face is open, you can confidently set up for an Erne. In this scenario, there’s minimal risk of a speed-up or aggressive drive since an open paddle face usually results in a softer shot, like a slice or a block. This makes it a safer opportunity to go for the Erne.

Practical Example

To put this into practice, imagine you’re on the left side of the court, and your opponent is preparing to hit the ball with an open paddle face. If it’s an outside shot and they are positioned off the line, you can start positioning yourself for an Erne. Whether it’s your backhand on the left or your forehand on the right, recognizing the open paddle face and the opponent’s positioning allows you to go for the Erne with little to no risk.

By understanding and implementing these strategies, you’ll be able to identify more opportunities for Erne shots and execute them more effectively, enhancing your overall game.

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James Ignatowich is a top 10 professional pickleball player originally from Connecticut, now residing in Delray Beach, Florida. A former Division 1 tennis player at Vanderbilt University, James made a transition to pickleball, quickly rising to prominence in the sport and often playing doubles with Tyson McGuffin and Anna Bright. In addition to his athletic achievements, he runs his own podcast, where he shares insights into the game and interviews other professionals. jamesignatowichnewsletter | PPA | MLP | My paddle

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