What is Bert & Erne in Pickleball?

Do you remember Bert and Ernie from the 70’s TV show Sesame Street? Well, surprisingly, these two famous characters have also made their way into the sport of pickleball. While other shots in this sport may be easy to learn, these two (called Erne and Bert) are a little tricky and more challenging.

Thanks to Erne Perry, who introduced a special and advanced technique where you jump and run around the Kitchen to cross the sideline before hitting the ball to score a point or put pressure on your opponent to make an error.  

A Bert is an advanced-level shot played in a doubles pickleball match, and it’s a variation of “Erne.” When you play Erne on your partner’s side of the court instead of your own by coming in front of your partner, it’s called a Bert.

The idea is to leap over the non-volley zone on your partner’s side and get to the opposite side of the court to hit a volley.

Because both Bert and Erne require the player to jump and run around the court, it can confuse the opponents and make and game more unpredictable and hence enjoyable. However, to fully understand the concept of Bert in pickleball, let’s first explore what Erne means.

What is Bert & Erne in Pickleball?

What is Erne in Pickleball?

Erne is an advanced shot played in pickleball, which was named after Erne Perry, who was one of the first players to use this technique regularly in pickleball. If executed properly, this type of shot can be very effective in throwing your opponent off-guard.

To execute an Erne, you need to hit the ball either in the air while jumping through the Kitchen (or non-volley zone) or while standing just to the side of the Kitchen and out of bounds after getting around the non-volley zone. In both cases, the shot is supposed to be a volley, but definitely an unexpected one for your opponent.

You might want to read this article: What is the Kitchen in Pickleball?

Erne is an advanced-level technique, and only pro pickleball players can execute it successfully since it requires precise timing and extreme accuracy. Moreover, you have to plan it in advance by doing all the calculations so that it wouldn’t result in a fault.

If you are able to master your Erne, the next level is to practice your Bert. So, let’s find out how these two are different.  

What is Bert in Pickleball?

Now, Bert is essentially the same shot as Erne; however, it’s played on your partner’s side of the court. Remember, the rules for both these shots are the same: you must re-establish your feet after crossing the sideline from the Kitchen and before hitting the ball; otherwise, it will result in a fault.

Read more about the rules here: What Are the 5 Rules of Pickleball?

A Bert is a great move to play when your opponents are targeting your partner, and you need to get into a better position on the other side. While it may seem like a difficult and advanced technique at first, with a bit of practice with your partner, you can master it in no time.

Since you must execute a Bert in front of your partner, you must communicate with each other first and plan its execution together. This is where the difference lies between Bert and Erne. Erne is played on your own side of the court, so you don’t have to worry about your partner.

Moreover, Erne can be played in both singles and doubles pickleball, whereas Bert is particularly useful only in a doubles match. This type of shot may help a team get out of a difficult situation.

How to Hit a Bert in Pickleball?

Playing a Bert can be more challenging than an Erne because you must be mindful of the extra court you must cover to get to your partner’s side. You also have to make sure you don’t land in the Kitchen or touch the Kitchen line accidentally.

The idea is to get in front of your partner before executing a Bert. This requires some signaling between you and your partner, so they are prepared to have you in front of them. At the same time, you need to make sure that your opponents have yet to learn what you’re going to do next.

To execute a Bert successfully, all you need to do is plan a few steps ahead, and you’ll be able to get to your partner’s side before the shot is made.

If you plan on hitting a Bert, you first need to entice your opponent to hit the ball toward the sideline. When you’re successful in having them do that, wait till your opponent hits the ball back before getting to the new position on their side of the court.

This will keep your opponents guessing what is going to happen next. During the entire time that you’re planning this shot, you have to remember to establish your feet outside of the Kitchen either by jumping over the area or by dragging your back foot to land out of bounds before hitting the pickleball.

When to Play a Bert?

Since a Bert is even more difficult than an Erne, it’s advisable to practice your Erne first. If you need to learn how to execute an Erne properly, it will be quite useless trying to rescue your partner from being targeted by the opponents.

Also, remember that Bert and Erne are supposed to be volleys – hitting the ball in the air without bouncing), so you must take caution not to enter the Kitchen when executing a Bert. This includes the swing itself and any momentum afterward that lands you inside the Kitchen after you have hit the ball.

You might want to read this article: How Fast Does a Pickleball Travel?

So, all Berts and Ernes are to be executed outside of the non-volley zone. It’s recommended to jump over the Kitchen to get to the ball in a quick motion. If you find yourself inside the Kitchen, re-establish your feet out of bounds before hitting your Bert.

If you fail to fulfill these conditions, your Bert will result in a fault.

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