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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
15-Ball, No Rails
August 2019

A handy drill that will get your touch and feel back after a layoff.

As Iíve shared before, making full use of practice time with solid drills is critical, particularly if you are coming back after an extended layoff. For me, itís been a layoff from pro competition. For many amateurs, the end of summer means it is time to get back to the table.

The first thing you need to get dialed in is your cue ball and touch. Here is a drill that looks more difficult than it really is, but still requires well thought strategy and careful planning. It is easy to set up ó each ball is a half-diamond from the rail and a diamond apart. This layout leaves plenty of room for the cue ball, but moving it to the right spots is critical. In this drill, the cue ball cannot contact a rail and it cannot contact another object ball. Shoot the balls in any order.

This drill will help your straight pool and 8-ball games, but it will also help finding the right areas for the cue ball in rotation games. It is a great all-around drill. If you can control the cue ball, pool can be an easy game. But your feel and touch need to be on point or this drill will frustrate you. Do it properly, however, keeping your concentration and focus, and you will see long term benefits.

As you can see in the diagram, I start with cue ball in hand and make the 14 in pocket F, then the 11 in pocket E. Ideally, you want to work in sections by taking one half of the table first and then the other. It is a little like 8-ball. You donít want the cue ball traveling all over the place. Breaking the table into two sections will make this drill easier. The 5 ball in the center of the table can come to your aid if you get slightly out of position on the other balls. The 6 and 12 balls offer the same protection.

Personally, I like to play this drill 14, 11, 15 in pocket E, 12 in pocket C, 13 in pocket D, 9 in pocket C, 10 back into pocket D and draw back for the 5 ball. That gives you options for the other balls. From the 5 in pocket F, I draw back slightly for the 2 ball in the corner pocket B. I draw back again for the 4 ball in the side (C). That leaves me straight on the 1 ball. Draw back for the 6 into pocket A and run through for the 8 ball in pocket F, the 7 ball in pocket A and the 3 ball in the same pocket.

This drill contains a lot of kill shots, rolling balls in and soft draws. Those are shots we all need to feel and work on. Think about the pattern you want to take before you start. It is a drill in which you need to think three or four shots ahead.

This is a great drill and one I recommend at all levels. Itís one of my favorite drills to give to students to go work on.