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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• July 2024
V for Victory

• 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

• 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

• 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

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.