In the world of pickleball, a sport that has been gaining tremendous popularity over the years, there exists a unique and enigmatic shot known as the “Pickleball Ernie.” This unconventional technique, which leaves opponents baffled and awestruck, has become a powerful weapon in the arsenal of skilled players. In this article, we will delve into the origins of the Pickleball Ernie, how it is executed, and its strategic implications on the court.

The Origins of Pickleball Ernie

The term “Ernie” in pickleball is not a person’s name but rather a colloquialism derived from the word “out of reach.” The Pickleball Ernie shot was first popularized by a player named Ernie Perez in the early 2000s, and it has since taken on his namesake. Ernie Perez, a skilled and innovative player, discovered this shot by accident during a particularly intense game. The move involves a player hitting the ball on the non-volley zone (the kitchen) side, usually when the opponent is at the net, hence the name “Ernie.”

The Execution of Pickleball Ernie

The Execution Of Pickleball Ernie

To execute a Pickleball Ernie, a player must be quick, agile, and possess excellent hand-eye coordination. The shot is typically performed by the non-volley zone line, and the player must have one foot behind the non-volley zone while hitting the ball. The Ernie is a half-volley shot, meaning the ball is hit just after it bounces on the court, close to the net. The player uses a forehand or backhand grip, depending on their dominant hand, and strikes the ball with a sweeping motion to redirect it diagonally cross-court, away from the opponent. Must read: Pickleball || The Unexpected Game That Can Save America

The Pickleball Ernie requires exceptional timing, as the player must react quickly to the opponent’s shot and position themselves perfectly to hit the ball while standing outside the non-volley zone. Since this shot is often attempted when the opponent least expects it, it catches them off guard, leaving them with limited time to react or counter effectively.

Strategic Implications of Pickleball Ernie

Strategic Implications Of Pickleball Ernie

The Pickleball Ernie is more than just a flashy trick shot; it has real strategic value in the game. When executed successfully, this shot can create a significant advantage for the player employing it.

  • Surprise Factor: The element of surprise is the most potent weapon of the Ernie. When used sparingly and at the right moment, it can lead to easy points and disrupt the rhythm of the opponent’s game.
  • Psychological Impact: Witnessing an Ernie being pulled off successfully can unnerve opponents, leading them to become more cautious with their shots and potentially making mistakes in their play.
  • Court Positioning: The Ernie forces opponents to be more mindful of their court positioning, as they have to be prepared for unexpected shots from the non-volley zone side.
  • Offense vs. Defense: Pickleball Ernie is often executed when the opponent is on the offensive at the net. By turning their opponent’s offense into a defensive position, players can seize control of the rally.


The Pickleball Ernie is a remarkable and innovative shot that has revolutionized the game of pickleball. Originating from a creative player who stumbled upon its potential, the Ernie has become a significant part of the sport, utilized by skilled players to gain an upper hand over their opponents. Its unexpected nature, combined with its strategic implications, makes it a truly fascinating aspect of pickleball that continues to captivate players and spectators alike. So, the next time you’re on the court, keep an eye out for the legendary Pickleball Ernie – you might just witness one of the game’s most exhilarating moments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Pickleball Ernie

1. What is a Pickleball Ernie?

A Pickleball Ernie is an unconventional shot in pickleball, named after player Ernie Perez. It involves hitting the ball from the non-volley zone (kitchen) side while standing outside the non-volley zone, catching opponents off guard.

2. How is the Pickleball Ernie executed?

To perform an Ernie, a player must have one foot behind the non-volley zone line and hit the ball just after it bounces. The shot is typically directed diagonally cross-court away from the opponent, using a forehand or backhand grip.

3. What’s the strategic importance of the Pickleball Ernie?

The Ernie offers several advantages, including surprise factor, psychological impact on opponents, better court positioning, and turning the opponent’s offense into defense.

4. Who popularized the Pickleball Ernie?

The shot gained popularity through Ernie Perez, a skilled pickleball player who unintentionally discovered it during a game in the early 2000s.

5. What skills are required to execute a successful Ernie?

A player must possess excellent timing, agility, hand-eye coordination, and the ability to quickly react to the opponent’s shots.

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