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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

• 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

• 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 and Down
April 2018

Here is a drill that combines cue ball control and creativity.

The best and most challenging practice drills are the ones that best emulate true game situations. They are the drills for which there is no single way to complete them. They require different strokes, decision-making and, occasionally, they force you to come with a big shot.

This is such a drill. It is a 9-ball pattern drill that uses all six pockets and all six rails, making it the ultimate cue ball control and pattern selection test. Practice this drill and you will get an excellent feel for the rails and for solid position play. And in those instances in which you get a little out of line, the drill forces you to be creative and use your shot-making skills to get back in line.

Set the balls up as shown in the diagram. The cue ball must hit at least one rail on each shot, but the cue ball canít touch any of the other balls on the table.

Again, there is no set way to complete this drill, in large part because if the cue ball rolls longer or shorter than you want, your recovery will require some creativity.

When I do this drill (Diagram One), I use a touch of inside English from the 1 to the 2, sending the cue ball off the bottom rail and the side rail just above the side pocket (C). I use the same approach from the 2 to the 3.

From the 3, I will once again go one-rail for the 4 in pocket E, using a touch of inside English and a little follow. The same approach will be used going from the 4 to the 5, inside English with a touch of follow.

The 5 (Diagram Two) is a simple one-rail shot back up table for the 6.

The big shots are on the 6, 7 and 8. There are multiple ways to get shape on the 7 into pocket C. You can use a touch of inside English and go two rails, or you can use high, left and use four rails for shape on the 7. In this case, I went four rails. Your approach to the 8 ball in the opposite side pocket (F) will then depend on the angle youíve left yourself. Finally, try to get shape for the 9 in pocket C.

Unless your cue ball control is perfect, you will probably need one or two big shots to complete this drill, which is what makes it such a challenging, but fun exercise.

This is a great drill for all levels of play, although it might take a few tries for an amateur to complete. The key is to improve each time you try the drill. It is a great way to chart your improvement and progress.

Again, this is a perfect way to develop feel for the rails and to develop creativity. Having all six pockets and all six rails at your disposal makes it interesting, too. Those instances in which you suddenly have to go three or four rails for position will really test you, but, then again, the ability to recover and get back into line is what makes the great players great. Emulate them in this drill and take your game to another level. Donít be afraid to move the cue ball around and use different strokes.