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Saturday, June 24, 2017

More on the Erne Shot

Stealth mode is for fighter jets, not pickleball...

Yesterday's videos showed why the Erne shot is both rare and controversial. First, the shot requires a decision to move off the court before the opponent actually makes the shot. This decision is high risk because, if wrong, leaves the vacated area open to a harder shot. Second, the movement to get int proper position is not easy. The player must either cross through the non-volley zone and establish both feet outside the court or step/jump across the corner of the non-volley zone. These moves are controversial because the entire sequence happens so fast that it is nearly impossible to judge whether a violation occurred.

One example of an uncalled violation occurred in this year's US Open Men's Doubles when Kyle Yates hit an Erne shot after stepping into the non-volley zone and hitting the ball before establishing himself outside the court. The video from Pickleball Channle is called US Open Pickleball Championships Men's Doubles Age 19+ Goodwin-McKinley vs Yates-Ashworth and can be seen below. A couple of screen captures shows the clear violation that occurs starting at 4:20.

The first screen capture below shows that Kyle clearly plants his foot in the NVZ on his way to the net.

Kyle then makes contact with ball while trying to jump across the NVZ. But it is too late. He already made contact.

The controversial calls do not end with Erne shot being made, though. After a shot or after moving off the court to make an attempted shot, the player must return to their on-court position at the kitchen line. The most direct route is again through the NVZ which requires the player to establish both feet outside the NVZ before hitting a volley. Another video (and screen captures) shows Dave Weinbach committing an uncalled fault. The fault can best be seen beginning at 0:25.

This screen capture shows Dave recovering from an attempted Erne shot. He is starting to move from off the court to his position at the NVZ line.

Dave crosses the NVZ and plants his foot on the NVZ line just before he hits a volley.

Dave makes volley while jumping into the service court. But, again, it is too late. He never re-established his position outside the NVZ before hitting the volley.

Both videos show how hard it is to make foot fault calls on these plays. The Erne - and recovery - are so fast it nearly impossible to make a judgment with the naked eye at full speed.

There seems to some discussion that the Erne shot should be banned. I am not aware of any serious discussion at the USAPA to go that far, but it may happen sometime in the future. I tend to think it should remain as part of the game. It is a very effective shot but comes with a high risk. Those athletic enough to pull it off should be rewarded for their skills.

As an aside, the Erne shot is named after its inventor - Erne Perry.

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