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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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

• 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

• 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

August 2021

Pattern play up and down the table is a rotation games must.

Good pattern drills are ones in which you have two or three options on each shot. You can choose based on personal preference, but the principle never changes: You have to play the patterns that make the drill as easy as possible for you.

The shots in this 10-ball pattern drill come up all the time in rotation games. The drill is easy to set up and there is a lot of space to move the cue ball around. What I like about this drill is that you have to go up and down the table for each shot. That means good cue ball speed and use of the rails will be critical. You can also let out your stroke if needed.

The rules are simple: Start with ball in hand and pocket the balls in rotation without bumping another ball.

Think carefully on the first shot (Diagram One). Iíve seen players try to play this as a one rail shot. The problem with that is youíre shooting to a small area and a small angle by trying to go short rail to short rail. This option also brings the scratch into the corner into play.

The correct way to play this shot is to use two rails. You can control the cue ball and the speed easier, and it affords you a bigger angle area for position on the 2. I use just a tip of high left English and try to land the cue ball between the first diamond above the side pocket and the middle diamond. Itís a shot you need to practice to get the proper feel. Once you get this shot, it will come easy and your never scratch in the corner.

The 2 ball is similar, but donít get caught up thinking you should play it the same way, hitting the long rail above the side pocket. Why not? Because shape for the 3 ball is different than shape for the 2. You donít want to land straight in on the 3. You want to stay above it and leave a natural angle. Again, this is a rotation drill, so you should be thinking three shots ahead. I would load up on left English on this shot.

The 3 is a simple shape shot (Diagram Two), using high cue ball. Try to leave the cue ball above the 4. The shots on the 4 and 5 are also fairly simple (Diagram Three). Cue ball speed is important and stick to the natural lines. Try to leave the same shot for the 6 ball because going from the 6 to the 7 is the key shot.

Iíd prefer to land short and leave an angle from the 6 to the 7. If you come too far up table, youíll need to cut the 7 and just miss the 9. Thatís certainly possible but a little dangerous.

Ideally, youíd like to be on the left side of the table for the 7 (Diagram Four), but if you leave too much angle on the 7, youíll have to go two rails and come past the center of the table to cut the 8 ball to the right. Donít worry about the 10 ball. Itís not in the way unless you draw the cue ball into it.

Again, thinking three shots again, the diagram shows the perfect shape on the 8. High right cue ball will help avoid landing on the long rail for the 9. Also, you donít want to come too far up table and leave a thinner cut on the 9.

Decent position will leave you three options to go from the 9 to the 10 (Diagram Five). A soft punch shot just about center is the way itís shown in the diagram. If youíre more comfortable, you can play this with right follow using two or three rails, or you can let your stroke out and punch across table. Thatís my least favorite option because the scratch in the side is a danger.

Again, this is a really good drill with lots of options. It requires 100 percent focus. But if you can handle the right cue ball speed and proper amount of spin, it will reward you with a lot more confidence in your rotation game.