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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

• 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

• 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

Up To The Challenge
January 2018

Challenge yourself with cue ball control drills.

I canít stress enough how meaningless it is to just throw balls out onto the table for practice. Practice needs to have purpose. Additionally, if you do practice with purpose, you donít have to stay at the table for hours on end. You can get more out of two hours of good practice than you can out of eight hours simply banging balls around the table. Thatís why I have developed so many drills. They hold my attention, challenge me to improve and allow me to increase difficulty as I do improve. Here is a pair of drills that prove those points. The first drill is a great warm-up and also great for amateurs that are trying to develop good cue ball control. In fact, many of the drills I put together are based on cue ball control. I am a firm believer that, ultimately, cue ball control will always outlast pure shot making over the long haul. Look at players like Buddy Hall, who played top-level pool for a very long time. Why? Because his cue ball control and pattern play were always perfect.

In a nutshell, pattern play is all about cue ball control and staying on the right side of the object ball. These drills challenge you to accomplish those tasks.

Diagram One is a fairly simple drill. Make the balls in the bottom left corner pocket in rotation. The cue ball is not allowed to touch another object ball, which is also critical in rotation games. Kissing balls is just asking for trouble.

The best way to play this drill is to go two rails with the cue ball on every shot. It is a great way to get a feel for the speed of the table and the action of the rails. For amateurs, this can be like a straight pool challenge. Try to establish a new high run every time you set up this drill. One day you may only get to the 5 ball. Really focus on reaching the 6 the next day. It is a great way to gauge improvement and gives you a good understanding of just how much easier the game is when you can control the cue ball. I have students message me months after learning this drill, excited that theyíve reached the 8 ball. Itís a fun challenge.

The drill in Diagram Two, which I call ďDynamiteís Ultimate Pattern Drill,Ē is used a lot in snooker because, done right, it keeps you around the area where the black is spotted. (In this case it is the 5 ball.)

The goal is to shoot the 1 through 9 in rotation without contacting another ball. Shoot the 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 in the bottom left corner, and the 2, 4, 6 and 8 in the bottom right corner.

The drill is super tough for any player at any level, but, again, it is a great way to chart your improvement. Reaching the 5 ball is a massive achievement. You are sure to be frustrated at the start, as I was. But it is really rewarding when you progress, and it will reward your overall game. You have to stay sharp because any lapse or loss of feel for the speed will stop your run in a hurry.

This is one of my favorite drills. You will see that if you play good patterns and stay on the right side of the balls, rotation can be made simple. Remember, donít give up. Aim to beat your personal best on a daily basis.