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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• August 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

• 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

• 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

You’ll Kick Yourself
June 2020

Know the ins and outs of getting out of traps.

Because of safety play (and sometimes because of just plain bad luck!), kicking is a huge part of rotation games. Yet, with all the strides players have made in learning to kick with accuracy, many players still take the wrong path.

The simplest example is shown in the diagrams. The 9 ball is preventing the shooter from direct contact with the 1. Meanwhile, the 2 ball is at the other end of the table. Surprisingly, I still see players take the natural angle off the side rail (Diagram One). While contact looks easy, it is really a dangerous path. It is also the wrong shot. For starters, the 1 ball is deep in the corner pocket, which presents a couple of pitfalls. First, you could completely miss the 1 ball, fouling and given your opponent ball in hand, as shown.

Also, if you go directly at the 1, the cue ball could easily follow it into the pocket (Diagram Two). Even if you manage decent contact on the 1 going directly at it, you will need to get lucky to get shape on the 2 ball.

The correct way to play this shot, of course, is to shorten the angle and spin into the 1 ball off the bottom rail (Diagram Three). To shorten the angle, aim a half-diamond below the natural angle. On shots like this, I hit the cue ball firm and with a half tip (maybe slightly more) of draw.

By taking this approach, you create a better angle to get into the 1 ball. Any concern about the cue ball following the 1 into the corner pocket is eliminated. Missing the 1 ball completely is also very unlikely.

And best of all, virtually any contact on the 1 ball from this approach will take the cue ball naturally up table toward shape on the 2 ball.

Practice shots like these. Some look easy, but you need to work on them to see the subtle differences between effective kicks and disasters. The extra work will elevate your creativity and you’ll be getting out of traps in no time.