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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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

• 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

• 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

End Game Safeties
October 2017

Donít panic when faced with safties at the end of a rack.

I am always amazed at the anxiousness and panic that overcome players when the end game in 9-ball or 10-ball involves safety play. All of a sudden, players donít think clearly and donít trust their technique. Perhaps it is because there are only two object balls left and it appears there is no place to hide.

Still, end game safety play is an important part of 9-ball and 10-ball. If you can learn to trust your technique and judgment, and you can think clearly and stay calm, you will see big improvements in this area.

End game safety play is all about percentages and, obviously, leaving your opponent in the toughest spot on the table. These situations pop up much more frequently than you might think, so if you mishit a safety or make the wrong decision, file it away in your memory bank for next time.

I do an end game safety drill at home because it requires imagination, concentration and a good touch. To be honest, I really enjoy this part of the game. I love trying to force a mistake from my opponent and I love outwitting him. Some of the shots require just clipping the thin edges of the ball or kicking safe. Thatís why speed control is so important. Knowing the proper speed is the key to re-safing your opponent. You have to at least make him earn the game.

Diagrammed is the safety drill. I start with the first position and play safe (Diagram One). Then I play safe from that shot (Shot 1) and so on. These shots are based on percentages and cutting down angles for my opponent. Again, speed control and full focus are essential. You can even play this as a game against an opponent and see who can freeze the 8 to the bottom rail.

You will notice that after the first shot, I avoid leaving the 8 ball on the bottom center diamond. That gives my opponent too many options and heíll probably play side-rail to side-rail return, as I did in Shot 1. Leaving the ball closer to the first diamond, as in Shot 2 (Diagram Two), reaps better results because it cuts out so many options and leaves very difficult safeties for the opponent. Shot 3 is a shot that requires a razor-thin cut on the 8, so this shot will really test your ability to focus.

Notice also that I avoid leaving the cue ball on the top middle diamond because that also cuts many of the angles and makes a return safety more difficult. Preventing your opponent from having an easy side-rail to side-rail shot is always a good thing. Make your opponent come with big shots. If you play the right shots in these situations, you will win at least 75 percent of the battles. It is all about imagination, confidence and trust.