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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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
Don’t 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
You’ll Kick Yourself

• May 2020
Tight Quarters

• April 2020
Cue Ball Control

• March 2020
Straight Cueing

• February 2020
Saddle up!

• January 2020
9-ball Crossover

• 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

• 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
“V” 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
Banker’s 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

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.