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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• July 2024
V for Victory

• June 2024
Circle the wagons

• May 2024
Rehearse Your Lines

• April 2024
Lucky Seven

• March 2024
More for the Road

• February 2024
Four for the Road

• January 2024
Corner the Market

• December 2023
Look Ma, No Cushions

• November 2023
Weíre in the Money

• October 2023
Four-level Drill

• September 2023
More Money Ball

• August 2023
No rails, part II

• July 2023
Look Ma, No Rails!

• June 2023
Triangle To Triangle

• May 2023
Zone Blitz

• April 2023
Money Ball Drill II

• March 2023
Money Ball Drill

• January 2023
The Dreaded Shootout

• December 2022
Alternate Universe

• November 2022
Close Quarters

• October 2022
Corner to Corner

• September 2022
Diamond in the Rough

• August 2022
Draw Bridge

• June 2022
I Detect A Pattern

• June 2022
Stay Close to Work

• May 2022
Amateur Approved

• April 2022
Two for One

• March 2022
The Straight Secret

• February 2022
The Correct Shot

• January 2022
End Game, Part II

• December 2021
Buying Off The Shelf

• November 2021
Look, Ma! No Rails!

• October 2021
The Oval Drill

• September 2021
Getting In Shape

• August 2021

• July 2021
V For Victory

• June 2021
More Pattern Drills

• May 2021
Patterns and speed

• April 2021
See a pattern?

• March 2021
Blind Man

• February 2021
Five Up, Five Down

• 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

• December 2016
Hocus, Focus

• November 2016
Kicking Into High Gear

• October 2016
More Drill Bits

• September 2016
Hand Model

• August 2016
Breaking Tradition

• July 2016
Drawing On Experience

• May 2016
Proper Practice

• April 2016
Drilling For Improvement

• March 2016
Mind Games

Getting Into Shape
January 2017

Before you take on an opponent like the ghost, prep with this drill.

Iíve discussed several drills that you should use at the beginning of your practice sessions to get your stroke straight and your cue ball speed in working order. Now it is time to work on your pattern play. Instead of simply racking the balls, breaking and trying to run out, I use a drill that ensures that I will be practicing shots that are going to come up in every rack. This drill forces you to do everything with the cue ball. It requires that you have good speed control. It always requires that you stay on the right side of the ball. Arrange the balls as shown in the diagram. It is essentially a diamond at each end of the table, with the 9 ball added. The next numbered ball is always at the opposite end of the table. You must run the rack without allowing the cue ball to hit another object ball. Ideally, you will pocket all of the balls in corner pockets. Decent amateurs should be able to complete it after three or four attempts. To add a degree of difficulty to the drill, limit yourself to the pockets on only one side of the table. That is more of a pro version.

Start with cue ball in hand. I usually place the cue ball as shown in the diagram and come off the bottom rail and side rail for position on the 2. You should use a minimum of one rail on each shot, and you are trying to keep the cue ball in the middle portion of the table for each subsequent shot. This is a great drill for amateurs because it isnít a terribly difficult drill, but it isnít easy. If you donít play good patterns, it will catch up with you before you complete the run-out. It is a great way to get a feel for the table.

Also, even if you donít complete the drill, it is very easy to set up, so you can keep repeating it until you successfully complete it. Getting a feel for the speed and pattern play is important for amateur players. One of the biggest problems I see with amateurs is that they donít practice their speed control often enough and constantly end up on the wrong side of the ball. This drill forces you to move the cue ball around the table, play shape, get on the right side of the ball and get a feel for the speed of the table. You have to stay focused.

So, before you start playing the ghost, try this drill. It is easy to set up, not boring and will get you into decent stroke.