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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

• 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

• 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

Mirror, Mirror
June 2018

Learn the quickest and easiest way to figure out kicking angles.

For years, the diamond system has been studied and practiced as a way to determine angles for kicking and to learn how the rails are playing. And while the diamond system may be the most accurate system out there, it really isnít practical in tournament play for several reasons. For starters, because the diamond system is based on mathematical formulas, it takes time to make the proper calculations. Many tournaments, particularly the biggest international and televised tournaments, use a shot clock. You can scramble your brain and run out of time trying to figure out the proper angles with a clock ticking away. Also, the longer a match goes and the more fatigued you get, your concentration and focus are really taxed. Adding mathematical calculations to the mix can take its toll. The pressure of a match can also make calculations tough to handle.

These days, many of the top players are using the mirror image and using it to good effect. It is an easy system to learn at any level, and, for me, it is the quickest and easiest to work out when you are under the gun pressure wise and/or time wise.

Here are a few examples and a few drills to help you better understand mirror imaging.

Diagram One shows a simple two-rail kick. Most players, regardless of skill level, can hit the 8 ball. But to guarantee best results, you need to hit the shot perfectly and with perfect speed.

The 8 ball is a ball and a half from the short rail. If the 8 was closer to the rail ó frozen or an inch or two from the rail ó I would come across the table, long rail to short rail, and make it in the bottom right corner. But as you can see, there is too much distance between the 8 and the rail, so you risk missing the ball completely. This shot would require a perfect two-rail hit on the 8, and if you donít make the ball, your chances of getting safe are pretty slim.

In this case, your percentages are dramatically increased coming short side. (This would be true for any ball that is between one and three ballís distance from the rail.)

Measure the center of the cue ball at its desired contact point on the short rail to the edge of the corner pocket. Using your eyes or cue, double that distance (white dotted line A). In this case, you can see that Iím a good diamond out from the rail. Follow that spot back to the cue ball, and the point at which it crosses the long rail is the point of contact for your shot (white dotted line B).

I play shots like this high on the cue ball, say 11 oíclock, and at a speed that gives me the best chance to be safe. If I make the 8 in the side, fine. My main object is to have the 8 come off the long rail and drift up to the top rail. Perfect speed is crucial when using a kick shot to play safe. If you hit the shot too hard or too soft, you will probably leave your opponent a shot.

Of course, this takes some practice, and you should try different spots on the table. But donít worry. The results will come quickly with less time spent analyzing.

Diagram Two offers a one-rail kick, but you use the same principle. Since the intended contact point off the rail is the 8 ball and not a second rail, double the distance from the contact point on the 8 to the long rail (white dotted line A). Again, follow that mirror point back to the cue ball to determine your contact point on the long rail (white dotted line B). I would use high cue ball on this as well. Speed, of course, is critical. And on this shot, you must hit it with confidence. Commit to making the 8 because your chances of getting safe on this particular shot are pretty slim. Your only chance of getting safe would be overcutting the 8.

Be aware of tendencies. If you keep hitting this shot fat, it may be because the cloth is new and you need to allow for the slide that sometimes comes with new cloth and/or dry conditions.

Practice and experimentation are the best way forward with this system. It is an easy thing to practice and you will master this in no time. For certain, your safety play will improve dramatically and immediately. Kicking safe is an art in pool, and it is something I love to play and watch. There is nothing more satisfying than outsmarting your opponent and beating them with safety and kicking skills. Your ability to escape tough situations is a psychological back-breaker for your opponent.