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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• January 2021
Donít Lag Behind

• December 2020
Head games

• November 2020
Life on the Edge

• October 2020
The Family Tree

• September 2020
A Dip of the Tip

• August 2020
The Big Diamond

• July 2020
Nine-Ball One-Hole

• June 2020
Youíll Kick Yourself

• May 2020
Tight Quarters

• April 2020
Cue Ball Control

• March 2020
Straight Cueing

• February 2020
Saddle up!

• January 2020
9-ball Crossover

• December 2019
Ride Those Rails

• November 2019
Up and Down

• October 2019
Money Balls

• September 2019
Captain Zig-zag

• August 2019
15-Ball, No Rails

• July 2019
One Extra Ball

• June 2019
Two-Pocket Drill

• May 2019
Up and Down

• April 2019
Ultimate Rotation

• March 2019
In A Good Spot

• February 2019
Center Cut

• January 2019
Breaking Bad Habits

• December 2018

• November 2018
X marks the spot

• October 2018
Striking It Rich

• September 2018
So Many Options

• August 2018
Put Hangers On Rail

• July 2018
Mirror, Mirror II

• June 2018
Mirror, Mirror

• May 2018
ďVĒ for Victory

• April 2018
Up and Down

• March 2018
Kick Into High Gear

• February 2018
Up and Down

• January 2018
Up To The Challenge

• November 2017
Taking A Break

• October 2017
End Game Safeties

• September 2017
Get Comfortable

• July 2017
Shape Up For Summer!

• June 2017
The Selection Process

• May 2017
Two For One

• April 2017
A Ghost of a Chance

• March 2017
Bankerís Holiday

• February 2017
Great Eight

• January 2017
Getting Into Shape

• December 2016
Hocus, Focus

• November 2016
Kicking Into High Gear

• October 2016
More Drill Bits

• August 2016
Breaking Tradition

• July 2016
Drawing On Experience

• May 2016
Proper Practice

• April 2016
Drilling For Improvement

• March 2016
Mind Games

Hand Model
September 2016

Bridge hand placement has a big impact on your timing.

Timing is so critical to hitting the cue ball with consistency, and it is really very easy to be off on your timing. In golf, if a player is not lined up properly, his timing isnít going to be right. Heís going to come around the ball or under the ball and heís going to spray the ball around the course. The same is true in pool.

I recently played in the World 9-Ball Championships in Qatar, and I didnít play particularly well. I wasnít getting through the cue ball well. I didnít play again for several weeks after that tournament, and I spent some time thinking about what I was doing wrong.

When I got back to the table, I went back to basics. I immediately began with the drill Iíve discussed before: shooting straight shots and drawing the cue ball straight back to the top rail. I didnít want to just throw balls out on the table and practice. That tends to make bad habits worse.

Additionally, I checked where my hand is positioned on the shot. I do this by placing balls at the diamonds along the long rail. I use the diamonds as a guide for where my bridge hand should be. When my timing is right and Iím playing well, my bridge hand is approximately one diamond from the cue ball. To check this, I place the cue ball in line with one diamond and physically place my bridge hand directly on the rail a diamond behind that. Then I move my hand straight over to the table. This way I know my bridge hand is where it should be.

The hand placement is important. If your bridge hand is too far from the cue ball, you wonít be able to really stroke through the ball. Also, the added distance between your bridge hand and the cue ball makes it more likely that your contact point on the cue ball wonít be precise. Youíre likely to add spin that you didnít intend to add.

If your bridge hand is too close to the cue ball, you will find yourself stabbing at the ball and the cue will fall off your bridge hand when you draw the cue back. This is a common problem with amateur players. They tend to want to get too close to the cue ball and they donít get the loose, fluid stroke they need to execute shots like this. Your bridge hand position shouldnít really change much, but occasionally we all get a little lazy and our game suffers. Most of the time, your hand will know where to go.

Of course, the placement of the bridge hand is going to vary a little from player to player. Someone taller or with a long, winding stroke is probably going to have his hand a bit further from the cue ball. Players like Shane Van Boening and Earl Strickland have opted for extensions on their cue so they can bridge farther back and still get through the ball properly.

This is a simple routine, but it really works. I started out with this drill, and my timing is much better already.

Diamonds along the rail serve as a guide to determine how far your bridge hand should be from the ball.