What Is a Bert in Pickleball?

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It is quite easy to learn the rules of this trendy game, but it does take time to get used to the technical pickleball terms. A Bert is an advanced shot and should only be executed by experts. It can only happen in the case of double team players.

In this article, we will explain what the move really is, how to execute it, and where it comes to exist. It is not one of our favorite characters from the Bert and Ernie show, as you will see very soon.

Now let’s investigate why a Bert is better suited for those with higher skill levels in the game of pickleball.

Layout Of Pickleball Courts

In order for you to better understand what we mean when we talk about zones and lines, let’s look at the layout first. The surface of pickleball courts is mostly made of concrete; occasionally they are made of asphalt.

The game can be played on indoor courts with indoor balls, but it can also be played outdoors with an outdoor-designed ball.

The Net

The net spans the middle of the court, which means it splits the playing area into two equal parts. The net is about 34 inches high at the center and 36 inches at the sideline.

Non-Volley Zone

The 7-foot non-volley zone, or the kitchen, as it is known unofficially, is the zone running parallel with the net. There is a kitchen zone on both sides of the court for the serving and service return side.

Drop shots are played to land inside the opponent’s non-volley zone to force them to move forward and risk making non-volley zone foot faults.

Service Court

There are two service courts on both halves of the playing area that run parallel with each other from the kitchen line to the baseline. This is the area where the two members of the team play the game, with one service court for every player.

The players get into the ready position inside this area of the court so the game can get started.


The baseline is the furthest border behind the service courts and is the end of the pickleball court.


The sidelines are the left and right borderline of the pickleball court.

Non-Volley Zone Rules

Here are some of the official pickleball rules when it comes to playing a Bert:

  • Your feet are not allowed inside the kitchen zone when you play a volley except when the ball has bounced.
  • In the case of the two-bounce rule, the ball must bounce inside the kitchen zone, then you can play it.
  • A volley is when the ball is returned over the net without it bouncing; this can be used for different advanced shots in pickleball.
  • With the double bounce rule, the ball must bounce once on each side before it is returned.
Pickleball net action during a mixed doubles match

What Is a Bert?

To know what a Bert in pickleball is, you first need to know what an Erne is, so let’s look at that. Both the Erne and the Bert are approved by the professional pickleball association and are, therefore, legal.


There are basically three ways to execute the Erne shot in pickleball, so let’s take a closer look at them. It is best not to hit an Erne shot with a service return; you should bide your time and wait for the perfect moment.

With an Erne shot running and jumping around in your service area, the opponent can get distracted and perform a service fault. This will be favorable for you if they perform a foot fault without you even hitting a shot.

First Method (Roundabout Erne)

Starting with the basic method, here you simply move around the non-volley zone border on your side of the court. This line that borders the service court is called the non-volley line, which you are not allowed to cross when playing the ball.

By moving around the non-volley zone to the outside of the court, you can now move closer to the net and play the ball.

Second Method (Through the Kitchen Erne)

With this method of playing an Erne, you simply move through the non-volley zone to the outside of the court. Now, you want to be as close as you can to the net to execute a more advanced shot from there.

Keep in mind that you must ensure that you always strike the ball on your side of the net. To do this, you need to not be too close to the net to accidentally extend your hand over it.

Also, keep in mind that the standard non-volley zone rules will always apply here when hitting the ball.

Third Method (Jumping the Kitchen Erne)

The third method of playing an Erne in pickleball is to simply jump over the kitchen and then land outside the court. For this to be effective, you need to time the jump so you can hit the ball while it is still in the air.

This type of shot is best left for those who have more than just some experience in the game. If you can pull it off, it is in your favor and will also boost your confidence and add points to your score.

Back To The Bert

A Bert is the same thing; the only difference is that you execute that shot by crossing over to your partner’s side of the court. So, you quickly jump in front of your partner as the ball crosses over the net and from there you execute your shot.

This is very tricky and can easily cause you to step into the kitchen zone and have a service fault or foot fault. You should also warn your partner in time so they can provide a bit of space for you to execute that move.

Always land on the outside of the court because no non-volley zone foot faults are allowed, even with this shot. Your footing, balance, and body position are thus very important to put you into the most advantageous position.

Benefits Of a Bert

Although this is a risky shot, the benefits of a Bert will almost always translate to points on the board.

  • You can easily execute an unexpected drop shot on your opponent from that angle and the ball will go through quickly.
  • Another benefit of an Erne or Bert is that they can cause the opponent to change their shot and, consequently, lead to a service fault.
  • These shots are legal in pickleball tournaments and can turn the game in your favor for a much better outcome.
  • It is easy to use an Erne or a Bert in any pickleball game and can be used over and over.
  • You can use a Bert in combination with aggressive shots or any defensive shot when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Using a Bert can result in a passing shot and points on the board.
  • Any pickleball player can play these advanced shots to overcome the opponent if they are up for it.

When To Use a Bert

There are many opportunities to use a Bert in pickleball, and it needs to be timed perfectly.

  • You can use it on a poor drop shot from the opponent to cash in on it with a quick reaction.
  • A Bert is best executed in a doubles team where you need to cross into the opposite service court.
  • You need to set it up by luring the opponent to play shots close to the outer non-volley zone line.
  • Advanced players use a Bert for a hard return volley or to confuse the opponents.


The rules of pickleball are put together by the International Federation of Pickleball; for every shot in pickleball to count, you need to obey them. Pickleball professionals love to play a Bert to have an edge and to show off their skills.

Hopefully, this will help you to understand what a Bert is and help you to play competitive pickleball. The most important thing to remember is to play the game at your comfort level and have fun!