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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

• 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

• 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

Two for One
April 2022

One-ball drill; and never scratch again!

Here is a two-for-one lesson! These are simple exercises, but they are very effective for all amateur level players. And they are two of my favorites.

The first is the best single-ball drill there is!

What I like about this drill is that it allows me to get into a good rhythm, good tempo and, most of all, get a good handle on the table speed and feel for the rails.

This drill may look easy, but itís not. You need to be careful and focus. I usually do this drill when I have new cloth put on my table to get the speed down, see how the rails are reacting and using one or two rails to leave the proper angles.

The rules of this drill are that the cue ball must contact at least one rail. Play for position on the same ball (reset the object ball after each shot), rotating side pockets (Diagrams One and Two). The goal, of course, is to score as many points as you can. And, as always, your goal each time is to try to beat your previous score.

And here is a bonus tip. Follow my advice and you will never again scratch on this type of shot!

Diagram Three shows how the balls line up ó the cue ball just a few inches off the rail and a diamond up from the side pocket, and the line through the 8 ball runs to the first diamond below the side pocket.

I see so many amateurs play this shot with follow over and over again, using slow to medium speed (Diagram Four). And they scratch in the corner pocket more often than not. The only way to avoid the scratch if youíre using follow is with a lot of speed to throw the cue ball wider and go four rails around the table. Thatís a dangerous path. Iíd only play it this way if the cue ball was frozen to the rail. It would be your only choice.

I also see players elevate the butt end of their cue when theyíre close to the rail, aiming down on the cue ball and using a punch or punch draw stroke. With this approach there is a decent chance of kissing the 9 ball and scratching in either corner (Diagram Five). And even if you donít scratch, youíre likely to kiss the 9 into a bad position for your next shot.

The safest way to play this shot is to only slightly elevate your cue. Using a nice loose grip, hit the cue ball in the middle with no more than medium speed. This will make the cue ball grab nicely from the 8 ball and throw the cue ball just enough to avoid the scratch every time (Diagram Four). If youíre feeling really confident, you can play this with a touch of right English to get it further up the side rail, or with left English to straighten the cue ball off the short rail. Under pressure, though, keep it simple. Center ball, nice and easy with enough speed to land straight on the 9 ball. I donít even care if I land on the rail because Iíve practice this shot off the rail a million times and shoot it with confidence. Take your medicine and stay at the table. Donít be greedy.

This is a cool shot to have in your locker and you will be able to apply it from different spots on the table.

Another tip whenever youíre aiming down on the cue ball is to make sure you find your line before you get down on the shot. Make sure to keep your eye on the cue ball, not the object ball. Hitting the cue ball in the exact spot you want is vital.