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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
Up and Down
May 2019

Tough cuts and angles are the key to this practice gem.

After being away from the table for an extended period, my preparation practice for the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships started with drills to get my stroke straight and my cue ball speed dialed in. After a while, it was time to start incorporating drills that required precision on shots and also gave me a better feel for action off the rails. Since we will be playing on Diamond tables at the U.S. Open, I’ve been practicing on a Diamond to get accustomed to the rails. It’s important to know the differences between tables when you are gauging the speed and angles, particularly in rotation games.

This “Up and Down” rotation practice drill is pretty tough, but it is also enjoyable and rewarding. It’s great practice for cut shots and for seeing the edge of the object ball. And because you have to use English on a lot of these shots, you will gain a lot of confidence cutting these balls with outside and inside English.

The drill itself is basically what you see. It’s an easy drill to set up and the order of the balls pretty much dictates which pocket you shoot into. To make the drill a little more manageable, I set up the balls just a fraction off the rail. If they were all frozen to the rail, the drill would probably be too hard. Of course, once you start completing this drill as shown, feel free to try it with all the balls frozen to the rail.

Start with cue ball in hand and run the balls in rotation. I play most of these shots with two rails, although I will use one rail on the shots that require a more severe cut, which also requires me to hit the cue ball with inside and outside English. The balls at the center of the rails (5 ball and 6 ball) are the most likely candidates for one-rail position. You will get a lot of feedback on how the rails play with this drill.

This is a great drill, since it forces you to really zero in on the edge of the object ball. These shots come up in nearly every rack in rotation games.