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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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

• 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

• 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

X marks the spot
November 2018

Find your center with the Mighty X.

Some drills are geared to beginning players and some are geared more to advanced players. The Mighty X drill is great for players at any level. It is a drill that many pro players do, and a few of them have referred to it as their favorite practice drill.

There are three key parts in your pool game: straight cueing; consistency; and being able to hit the cue ball with follow, center and draw. The Mighty X drill addresses all three elements.

This drill really helps me. Unwanted English is a common problem for us all and it is something that will hurt your game long term because your muscle memory will adapt to it. That results in bad habits, which are sure to hurt you. Players donít even realize they are not hitting center cue ball. Thatís why itís so important to practice a drill like this. It forces you to find center cue ball and really helps improve your alignment.

As you can see in the diagram, the Mighty X is a relatively simple drill to set up. The balls should be in line diagonally between the corner pockets.

Pocket the balls using the opposite object ball as the cue ball. For instance, start by using the 1 ball to pocket the 3 in pocket D. Use the 2 ball to pocket the 4 ball into pocket E. Replace the balls and use the 3 to pocket the 1 into pocket A and the 4 to pocket the 2 into pocket B.

The challenge to this drill is to pocket these shots using enough follow to have the 1 follow the 3 into pocket D, and so on. This shot requires you to strike the cue ball perfectly. It is important to keep your cue level. Any elevation on the cue will increase your chances of having the cue ball (or in this case, 1 ball on the first shot) lose its line after contact with the object ball.

Spot the balls again and shoot each shot with stun, stopping the cue ball precisely where it hits the object ball.

Finally, repeat the shots using draw. Ideally, you should draw the cue ball back to the opposite corner for a scratch.

I donít stop until I make four shots in a row for each category. If you can make all four shots using follow, stop and draw (12 total shots), you are striking the cue ball at elite player levels. This drill takes patience. Itís difficult to make all of these even if you are an elite player. And donít get frustrated if you are only making two out of four or three out of four. That would still be considered progress and you still get great feedback when you do happen to put a bad stroke on the ball.

This is a great drill for two people. You can rotate shots and the non-shooting player can place the balls for the next shot. It makes the drill fun and you can also add a competitive element to it.