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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• April 2021
See a pattern?

• 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

• 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
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

Blind Man
March 2021

Donít simply guess when faced with a blind pocket shot.

People often ask me what the most difficult shot in the game is. Of course, there are a lot of tough shots, but blind pocket shots are probably right near the top of the list. I see so many players ó even professionals ó struggle with this shot.

Mostly, the struggles come from laziness. Players often simply get down and fire away, guessing where the pocket is. Of course, that approach can work, but the chances of making the shot with any consistency really drop. Iíve seen this shot overcut and undercut, particularly when the cue ball is close to the object ball, as it is in the diagrams. At this point, the success rate is probably about 30 percent. To get that rate up to 60-70 percent, without even needing a good stroke, copy what I do. The results will help you on all blind pocket shots, but especially on those in which the cue ball and object ball are close together.

Iím not big on aiming systems, but I do have a little visual system that I use on blind pocket shots like the one in the diagrams. In this instance, I would walk around the table to the opposite corner and look at the line of the shot from one corner to the other. From that spot, I pick out a spot maybe a foot in front of the object ball (red spot). In my mind, that spot is the pocket. I donít try to visualize all the way to the actual corner pocket. I know that if I can hit that imaginary pocket, the ball will go in. It makes judging the line a lot easier.

Additionally, once I know the line, I visualize an imaginary cue ball a few feet from the object ball. Visualizing where I need to hit the object ball to send it to the red dot becomes even easier from here. Now, I see everything I need to give me the confidence that I will make the shot.

At that point, itís simply a matter of trusting what you are doing and executing the shot. On this particular shot, I would play with a touch of bottom left English to kill the cue ball. If you just play this shot with center cue ball, there is a chance youíd lose the cue ball and scratch or even double kiss the object ball. Always remember you have to control the cue ball as well.

So, remember, the key to blind pocket shots is to not be lazy. Donít simply get down on the shot and guess. Walk around the shot so you get a good look at the line of contact and the cue ball path. Pick out a short target a foot or two from the object ball and in line with the pocket. When practicing, make a little mark on the table. Determine where you need to contact the object ball to hit that mark and your percentage on blind pocket shots will go up for certain.

Use this system, particularly on close shots. I use it all the time.