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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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

• 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

• 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

Two For One
May 2017

Practice your 8-ball and 9-ball patterns in one great drill.

As you probably know by now, if you really want to improve your game you must practice with purpose. Yes, practice can be really boring. And, yes, it is difficult to maintain focus when you are practicing by yourself. Thatís why I create challenging drills for myself and only practice for a few hours at a time. I have also adapted some of my drills to different games, and I use the drill shown in Diagram One to practice both 8-ball and 9-ball. I originally developed this drill to practice 15-ball rotation. But with the World Pool Series, I wanted to adapt it to 8-ball. The only problem is, I hate practicing 8-ball and leaving all the remaining balls on the table after running out my colors. What I do in this drill is run the 1 through 8 for 8-ball, the finish the 9 through 15 in rotation. Doing it this way keeps me focused because itís like two drills in one.

This is a great drill for patterns and for staying on the right side of the ball. These are shots that come up all the time in games. A lot of the drills I put together are built to help you practice cue ball control, speed control and staying on the right side of the ball. You should try to complete this drill without touching another ball because, in 8-ball, you really want to avoid bumping into balls. Trying to avoid other balls will really force you to learn how to stay on the right side of the next object ball.

The 1 through 8 may appear to be just another rotation practice, but I place them in rotation order just to show you what the proper pattern should be. In 8-ball, you want to break the table down into sections and play one section at a time. You donít want to be going from one end of the table to the other on every shot. The key in 8-ball is to look first for your key ball ó the ball that gets you to the 8 ball. In this case, it is the 7 ball. The stripes are on the table to add congestion, and I put the 15 in the middle of the table because it forces you to be precise with the cue ball. If the middle of the table was wide open, it would allow too much room for error. This way is more challenging. The first shot (Diagram Two) is very easy. You just roll the 1 in and make sure you land high on the 2 ball. After the 2 ball, a lot of people would probably play for the 4, but thatís the wrong shot. You could get trapped trying to get shape on the 3. If you get straight in on the 4, or get on the wrong side of it, it becomes very hard to get shape on the 3 in a manner that would allow you to get back up table for the 5. Itís important to play the shot high from the 2, going off the bottom rail and side rail to get into the center of the table for the 3. Even if you donít come up perfect on the 3, you can come across for the 4 or play the 4 in the same pocket as the 3. Either way, playing the 4 gives you the best angle to get shape on the 5, which is the key shot in this rack. If you donít get good shape on the 5, itís going to be tough to finish the run-out.

The two key shots are from the 2 to the 3, and from the 4 to the 5. Once you get on the 5 (Diagram Three), the rest is easy. Then I make sure I leave a nice angle on the 8 ball so that I can play the 9 through 15 in rotation. Again, itís a matter of staying on the right side of the ball, because that 15 ball being in the middle of the table makes it a little tricky if you donít. This is a great drill for any level player. Amateurs will improve their pattern play with this drill. Too many amateurs play one or two balls at a time, and this will help them get in tune to spotting the proper patterns. It will also get them to learn to play in sections, which is important. Itís good to start up table and work down table. You could even do this backwards, starting with the 5 through 7 and then work back to the 1 through 4 because the 8 goes into either corner pocket.