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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

• 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

• 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

Put Hangers On Rail
August 2018

A clever drill to move from ďhangersĒ to the next shot.

Many drills are geared to the development of cue ball control. Being able to master your cue ball, control speed and develop good patterns comes from challenging yourself with drills like the one Iíve devised here. This is a clever little drill that will frustrate most amateurs and challenge higher-level players, but it is a great way to improve your overall game.

At first glance, this drill looks easy. It is a rotation 8-ball drill and the first four balls are hanging in corner pockets. Hereís the catch: The four corner balls (1-4) must be played rail first, and after contacting the object ball, the cue ball must hit a minimum of two rails. Additionally, the cue ball canít contact another object ball during the drill. Shots like the 4 ball, in which you have to get the cue ball back up table for the 5 ball, come up all the time in matches.

Players are often perplexed at how to approach the shot. Amateurs, particularly, will play the cue ball directly into the object ball. Often times they hit it too thin and donít get the second rail, or they scratch into the side pocket. That approach makes it harder to control the speed and angle.

The main reason you use rail first is to widen the angle, which is the safest way to avoid a scratch. It is also the easiest way to stay in line for the next shot.

Judging the exact contact point on the first rail is huge, as is judging the speed of the shot. Measuring these shots is the same as the mirror image approach Iíve discussed. With the balls so close to the pocket, it should be easy to judge the entry angle to the object ball. Ideally, you would like to have half-ball contact on each side of the ball, and no less than quarter-ball contact. You may fail a few times at the start, but you will figure it out pretty quickly. You will also realize that, even though this shot is virtually impossible to miss, it needs to be practiced and not taken for granted.

I always play the rail-first shots with a touch of running (outside) English. On the 1 ball (Diagram One), that would be a touch of right, high on the cue ball. Same with the shot on the 2 ball. The 3 and 4 would require high left. This helps the cue ball gather speed and slide better off the second rail for a nice natural path to the next shot.

Shots 5-8 do not have to be shot rail first, but do require that the cue ball contact two rails for position on the next shot. This comes down to personal preference. Obviously, a lot depends on the angle. With the angle I ended up with after pocketing the 4, I would take the two-rail path shown in Diagram Two, using a touch of right. If the angle on the 5 was smaller, I would probably go three rails with a lot of right English. It would allow me to let my stroke out and it takes away any possible scratch.

The approach to the shots that follow are also shown in the diagram. A little left on my shot at the 6 would eliminate the scratch in the side pocket. Finally, I would use a punch shot with a touch of right English on the 8 to send the cue ball safely two rails. That is always the way forward on game ball.

I really like this drill. Every shot requires some imagination and feel.