HomeAbout Billiards DigestContact UsArchiveAll About PoolEquipmentOur AdvertisersLinks
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

• 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

• 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 Straight Secret
March 2022

Never miss those long straight shots again.

Hereís a a shot that comes up time and time again, and it immediately strikes fear into the shooterís heart. The shot, of course, is the long, straight diagonal shot, and Iíll bet most pros miss it 50 percent of the time under pressure and amateurs miss it at least 75 percent of the time under any circumstances.

Itís time to let the cat out of the bag and change those percentages.

Iím sure most of the pros that are consistently successful with this shot have an aiming system. You need to have a system because when the cue ball is deep in the pocket, getting your hand position right is difficult to do. You wind up with not much cue in your bridge hand and that makes it hard to put much of a stroke on the shot. The awkward bridging may also force you to elevate the back end of your cue. Additionally, looking back and forth at the cue ball and object ball adds difficulty.

So much can go wrong.

Hereís my system for making this shot. Iím sure other pros use the same system, but nobody speaks about it because they donít want other players to know the secret.

Hereís how I play the shot:

I find my alignment when I get down, looking from the cue ball to the object ball with my head above the cue (Diagram One). Then I get low and look through the contact point to the exact point in the pocket I want the object ball to hit. I pick a spot on the pocket and mentally ďmarkĒ it. Now, I really focus on aiming the cue ball at that point in the pocket. When I finally get down to shot, I double check the path from cue ball to object ball and where Iím aiming the cue ball in the pocket. I focus 100 percent on hitting the cue ball to my mark in the pocket. At this point, Iím not even looking at the object ball. I keep my eye on the cue ball on the back stroke. Of course, you have to finish with good execution, but youíll be amazed with the results. That confidence will also prevent you from jumping up on the shot or being anxious. If you can free up your mind and your stroke, youíre well on your way.

I also get asked what I do if the cue ball is left or right of the pocket. Diagram Two shows this setup. My objective is the same. I find a line from the cue ball to the object ball to a contact point in the pocket. Again, I pick out a spot in the pocket, but this time a touch more to the right of the object pocket from my cue ball pocket. That becomes my reference point. Itís something Iíve used my entire career and it has served me well. As I got more and more comfortable with this shot, I started to fire it in with speed. This becomes a huge benefit to your game.

So, on these long straight shots, or even just normal straight shots, use a target in the pocket for your cue ball. A lot of players do this. Taking the pressure off your aiming allows you a freer stroke.

Does this work for normal angled shots? No, because picking a spot on the rail is much harder. Itís easier to use a contact point on the object ball (ghost ball).