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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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

• 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
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

Look, Ma! No Rails!
November 2021

Learn to negotiate tight spots and master kill shots.

Turning the cue ball loose and watching it zip around the table is exciting. But one of the most important shots in pool is the kill shot, being able to play into tight spaces and prevent the cue ball from moving very far.

Here is a no-rail drill that is great for cue ball control and negotiating those tight spaces. Itís great practice, especially for 8-ball, straight pool and one-pocket. This drill requires trust in your touch and your ability to pinch the pockets. Itís also very good for little draw shots, flicking the ball with a little side and rolling the ball in. This is all about keeping close control of the cue ball, not traveling around the table. I use this drill all the time with my students. They often quit on the shot or are too heavy handed. That makes pattern play difficult.

The No Rail Box Drill isnít easy. Planning is required and, like most games, you need to stay three balls ahead in planning your shot selection. Like 8-ball, when I get to the last six or so balls, I start planning backwards from the last ball. My students sometimes get stuck towards the end because they donít look ahead. This drill forces you to think all the time and maintain total focus and concentration.

The rules for this drill are simple and itís easy to set up. Just follow the setup in the diagram.

Like all drills, the cue ball canít contact any other ball, and canít contact a rail. Start with cue ball in hand and shoot the balls in any order.

Iíll give you a head start by showing you my opening shot selection. Starting here takes a tricky ball out of the equation and gives me an option for my second shot ó taking the next ball either into the corner pocket (9 ball) or into the side pocket (10 ball). While you have to plan at least three balls ahead, the beauty of this drill is that it constantly offers you options. In that way, itís a lot like straight pool.

On a lot of shots in this drill, the side pocket, is a good option because the wider opening allows you to cheat the pocket ó aiming the object ball to enter one side of the pocket or the other. That gives you the ability to create less or more angle on the shot, which, in turn, determines differing paths for the cue ball. In the case of this drill, creating less angle would be preferable because that will allow you to kill the cue ball. Donít be afraid of trying this method. It will get you out of a lot of tough spots in all games.

This isnít an easy drill but itís not overly difficult if youíre focused and thinking through every shot. It is a good challenge. And like all challenges, see how far you can get and keep working to improve your score.

And the more you practice this and the better you get, the more tight spots youíll be able to negotiate in actual match play.