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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
Ride Those Rails
December 2019

Perfect these tricky shots that come up in every game.

Shots along the rail can be challenging and pocketing the object ball is only one of the challenges. Cue ball speed off the rail can be tricky, as can position.

Here is a simple drill that allows you to overcome all of those challenges. What I like about this rail drill is that if gives you a good feel for cue ball speed and how the rails react. Each shot requires full concentration, not only to pocket the object ball but to keep the cue ball as close as possible to the middle of the table.

Set up the 1-8 balls along one of the long rails and the 9 ball on the foot spot, as shown in Diagram One. Starting with ball in hand, run the balls in rotations. The cue ball must contact at least two rails, and your goal is to finish each shot with the cue ball as close as possible to the middle of the table.

For the 1, 3 and 5 (balls shot into pocket A), use high English with just a bit of right (approximately 1 o’clock). For the 2, 4 and 6 balls (shooting to pocket E), use high English with just a touch of left (approximately 11 o’clock). The final two rail shots will require a full tip of left (9 o’clock) on the 7 and a full tip of right (3 o’clock) for the 8. And when you reach the 9 ball, use center cue ball and a firm hit to eliminate the potential for a skid. Too many amateur players try to roll the final ball, which increases the chances of it skidding.

Do this drill a few times and then repeat the process on the opposite side of the table. It will help with your eye alignment.

This is a great drill in that it forces you to keep the game simple, leaving the correct angles and controlling the cue ball to the center of the table. Of course, sometimes you will not land in perfect position, so you’ll have to be a little creative to get back on course. Your shot may require a little more high or low English.

These shots come up in virtually every rack. This drill will have you prepared.