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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

• November 2021
Look, Ma! No Rails!

• 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

Buying Off The Shelf
December 2021

Playing position off of balls hanging in a pocket is tricky business.

Hereís a drill that will surprise you. It will frustrate you as well.

One of the most common mistakes I see in pool, particularly watching amateurs, is how they play shots when the object ball is deep in the pocket shelf, especially when that ball is in one side of the pocket. Playing position from cinch shots like this, particularly if you have to run the cue ball up or down the table, always seems to trip players up.

This drill will help you learn how to play these shots the right way. Itís a deceiving drill and one Iíve slipped up on many times. The object ball isnít the challenge, obviously. The challenge comes with cue ball speed and landing on the right side of the next ball.

And once you get to the 5 ball, you need to reset your focus. If you take the rest of the balls for granted, youíll make a mistake. And thatís really frustrating at that juncture.

The rules are simple: On shots 1-4, the cue ball must hit the rail first. Youíre going two or three rails for position on these shots. On shots 5-10, no rules expect that you canít disturb an object ball other than the one youíre shooting. Begin with the cue ball in the position shown in Diagram One.

Here is my favorite way to play this drill:

For starters, in playing shape on the four corner balls, you want to get as close as you can to the long rail that leads to the pocket of the next object ball.

Starting with the cue ball in the center of the table, use high right English and aim about a half-ball width up the rail on the 1 ball. No need to hit this too hard. The cue ball will do all the work.

(The reason you want to go rail-first on these shots is to maintain more control over the cue ball. I see so many amateurs try to hit the ball thin and have the cue ball hit the point on the opposite side of the pocket. At that point you have no idea where the cue ball is going, and youíre likely to miss position.)

Switch to high left English on the 2 ball, coming just off the third rail for the 3 ball. (Diagram Two)

Same shot (high left), aiming about a ballís width up the rail, swinging the cue ball across the table and back along the long rail leading to the 4 ball.

Youíve got a ways to go to get the proper angle on the 5 ball, so extreme English (a good two tips of right) to come around for the 5. This, of course, depends on your position on the 4 ball. If youíre really close to the rail, you can play bottom right and a bit more power.

If you land on the 5 as shown in Diagram Three, use high left to come down the long rail to the short rail. (If your angle on the 5 is a little steeper, use high right to come across the table to the opposite long rail. Itís a safer option.

Once you get to the 6 ball, there is plenty of space near the opposite short rail with the 5 now gone. Same going for the 6 to the 7. High ball with a tip of English works for both of these shots.