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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• July 2024
V for Victory

• June 2024
Circle the wagons

• 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!

• 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
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

The Oval Drill
October 2021

Your patterns will take shape with this creative drill.

Hereís another great drill that is easy to set up and a perfect pattern drill. I like the shape of this drill and its purpose. Itís a great rotation pattern drill that anyone from league player to pro can benefit from.

As you might expect by looking at the setup, this drill puts a premium on staying in the middle of the table. Thatís always a great tool when the balls are spread out. You can get through this mainly with one-rail position, although some shots will be simple soft draws and no rail.

The rules are simple enough: Start with ball in hand. Run the balls in rotation. Youíre not allowed to bump another ball and you donít need to use a rail. (For pro level, a minimum of one rail is required on each shot.)

As always, Iím surprised by how often a player will begin with ball in hand and choose the wrong placement. Place the cue ball in the wrong spot and the run can end in a hurry.

For instance, I see amateurs take ball in hand here and place the cue ball for a straight in shot on the 1, or a very slight angle. Draw straight back from the 1 and you can quickly get in trouble. Come up short or go long and get stuck behind the 7 and the run is over.

I prefer to set this up at a slightly steeper angle and strike it soft with a lot of left English on the cue ball. Let the cue ball do all the work. This is an easier and safer option.

From the 2 to the 3, just use a soft draw and a little right, which will make the pocket play bigger. Donít quit on this shot and the cue ball will come nicely out just passed the center of the table.

A little punch with a half-tip of left off the 3 will get the cue ball back to the center of the table. And if you land straight on the 4 ball or 5 ball, thatís fine. From the 4 to the 5 and 5 to 6, you can simply draw straight back to the center of the table. Life is so much easier when you keep the cue ball away from the rails. Being able to get your hand on the table gives you so many more options and freedom to execute.

Position in the center of the table will give you a nice angle on the 6. I like punching this shot with a little left, but your personal preference will dictate what approach you take here.

The 7 ball is the key shot because there are several options. You can draw with left English if youíre really confident in your stroke. You can come up short here. Even worse, if you donít catch it right or the table is a little slick, you could scratch in the bottom left corner pocket. I prefer using one rail and landing close to the middle diamond between the side and corner pockets.

For the 8 ball, just play high ball with no English and let the cue ball float up table. If anything, use just a touch of right to guarantee not scratching in the top corner if you overhit the cue ball.

Again, just high ball on the 9, but you need to stay still on this shot. The nerves start to catch up to you near the end of the rack. As always, using just a touch of right will make the pocket play bigger in the event the 9 catches the short rail first. That little spin transferred from the cue ball to the 9 will assure that it slides in nicely.

The game-winning 10 will be easy but I always encourage players to avoid rolling this ball in. You donít want to risk it skidding, so use a soft draw or punch shot to eliminate that possibility.

This is a nice drill for all levels. It will get you into stroke and give you a good feel for the table. If you can complete this regularly, youíre well on your way to good pattern play. And if you donít make it through, keep trying to beat your personal best.