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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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

• 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

• 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

So Many Options
September 2018

Rotation drills off myriad path options.

Dome drills require fairly specific paths for success. Others offer seemingly countless options for position, particularly rotation drills.

Here is one of my favorite drills for rotation. The placement of the balls is relatively simple, but this is so much tougher than it looks. This drill is great for pattern play, for getting a good feel for the table, rails and cloth speed. It also allows you to let your stroke out.

Set up the balls as shown, alternating balls at the front and back end of the line. This forces you to move the cue ball to the opposite end of the line of balls with each shot. The 9 ball is in the middle. You are not allowed to contact another ball after the cue ball contacts the lowest numbered ball. All balls must be made in the bottom right pocket.

To have any chance of completing this drill, you will have to learn how to stay on the right side of the ball. That is where your positional play will improve.

And donít be fooled. This drill will frustrate you at first, but you will see progress. It took a student of mine six months to complete this drill. He continually got to the 6 ball or 7 ball, but the pressure would get to him and heíd miss the shot or position. When he did complete it, he was the happiest guy in the world. He mentioned heíd learned so much about the cue ball and about the importance of staying on the correct side of the ball.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many ways to get around for position: outside English, inside English, follow, one rail, two rails, three rails, four rails. Itís all available to you and that is a big part of rotation.

Here is how I try to get through this drill:

Shot 1 If I played this first shot with a high cue ball, sending it up the table two rails, it is hard to judge and hard to leave the proper angle on the 2 ball. Playing this shot four rails allows you to let your stroke out and come in at the proper angle. It is much easier to judge the speed, which dramatically increases your chances of having a good angle on the 2. This first shot will also immediately give you a good feel for the rails and cloth speed. And that gives you confidence.

Shot 2 If you have landed on the proper side of the 2, this shot will require little more than a touch of left.

Shot 3 There are several ways to play this shot, but I prefer the same route as the 1 ball. This shot offers a good angle and you donít need to worry about perfect position or speed. You could also use inside English on this shot to come inside for shape on the 4, but that depends on the angle.

Shot 4 I would play this shot with a nice, easy punch-follow. Just a tip above center and a nice easy stroke will float the cue ball over and off of the side rail.

Shot 5 Again, the approach to this shot depends on the angle. When I played this rack, I landed without much angle, so I used a little follow and a tip of left to get to the center of the table. If Iíd had more angle on the 5, I could have taken the four-rail route that I took on the 1 ball and 3 ball. The angle will dictate your options.

Shot 6 Again, a simple punch shot here. You may use a trace of left to make sure you gain the proper angle on the 7 ball. Lots of space here to play with.

Shot 7 Again, the angle will dictate your options. I decided to go two rails because itís natural. Also, perfect position isnít essential since there are only two balls left, and Iím already guaranteed to stay on the right side of the table for the 8.

Shot 8 This is a simple draw shot. Use the rail if there is more angle.

Shot 9 Best feeling in the world is landing straight in on the money ball!

This is a great drill. Work that cue ball and work your imagination.