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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• October 2022
Corner to Corner

• September 2022
Diamond in the Rough

• August 2022
Draw Bridge

• June 2022
I Detect A Pattern

• 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!

• 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

Stay Close to Work
June 2022

8-Ball is all about stop shots, soft shots and staying close.

Letís mix it up this month and try an 8-ball drill. Itís always been my strongest game but drills are hard to come by.

Hereís a nice pattern drill I came up with. Itís easy to set up, but one you can manage or come close to completing. It requires good thinking. Itís always best to work backwards from the 8 to determine your last two or three balls. I do that and it helps me visualize the best pattern. At the same time, it allows me to plot several options. I like to play for two or three balls so that my cue ball doesnít need to be perfect all the time.

For this drill, Iíve created two mini triangles at each end of the table with the stripes and 8 ball. Youíre not allowed to contact another ball, and advanced players must not allow the cue ball to contact a rail.

Again, I like to work backwards and in sections. Most students and league players Iíve seen try this drill make the mistake of starting with the 14 in the side pocket and trying to work the cue ball toward the triangle along the baulk line (12, 10, 13, 15). The problem with that pattern is that itís going to be very difficult to get back to the other end for the 9, 11 and 8.

It is better to keep close to your work and connect the dots. Eight-ball is all about playing as many stop shots and soft draws or follow throughs as you can, making the shots unmissable.

My pattern for this drill would be to start with the 15 ball, using soft draw for shape on the 13, again giving myself options. If I landed straight on the 13, my backup plan would be the 12 in the side. If I get proper position on the 13, I would soft punch over for the 10 ball. That leaves easy position from the 12 to the 9, or even the 12 to the 11. Options. Itís so easy from the 12 to put the cue ball in the perfect spot for the 9 or 11.

If I land perfect on the 9 ball, I feel like Iím one good stroke from winning the game. Drawing the cue ball back 6-12 inches for the 14 ball leads to the 11 ball and then the 8 ball. Even if I donít get perfect on the 14 ball from the 9, a normal game still allows you to use the rails to get shape. But, whenever possible, stay close to your work. Itís the essence of 8-ball.