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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
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.