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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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
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

• 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

I Detect A Pattern
June 2022

Get your stroke loosened up with low-difficulty pattern drills.

Basic rotation pattern drills are always great ways to get back in stroke and get a feel for the rails and the speed of a table. And they are always based on shots you will face in virtually every rack of rotation games.

A lot of these drills look easy, but they get difficult in a hurry if you land on the wrong side of the object balls. However, there are usually ways to recover and get back in line.

This is the sort of drill I would start with if Iíve been away from the table for a week or more. For those practice sessions, I like a drill that isnít too difficult and will help build confidence. Setting up tough shots right away or before a match is great if youíre in dead punch but if youíre a little cold, keep it simple and build your game and your confidence first.

This drill will help you understand the importance of staying around the center of the table, especially shots 1-4, and how important it is to leave a nice angle to get to your next ball. Going through the 5 and 6 gets a little tricky, with plenty of options for one-rail or two-rail shape. On the 7 and 8, itís very important to keep the cue ball above the side pocket, which will give you a number of options from the 8 ball to the 9.

Like most of my drills, this starts with cue ball in hand (Diagram One), and you are not allowed to touch another ball.

I would start with the cue ball in the center of the table and use low right English on the 1 to get the cue ball back to the center of the table (Diagram Two). Use the same shot, only using low left English on the 2. Donít hit these too hard. And nice, easy stroke makes the pockets play bigger.

Let your stroke out a little on the 3 ball to bring the cue ball back just past the center for the 4 (Diagram Three). Let that stroke out again on the 4, using just a tip of right to come two rails. Try to keep the cue ball near the side rail for the 5.

If youíve left the proper angle on the 5, following with just a touch of right English will bring the cue ball almost straight back down table for the 6 (Diagram Four).

If I fall on the proper angle, I prefer to go two rails off the 6 to the 7, using center ball with just a touch of left and hitting below the side pocket. One rail is fine, too, just as playing from the 5 to the 6. It all depends on your angle on the 6.

I definitely prefer two rails from the 7 to the 8 (Diagram Five), coming toward the 8. Even if you come up a little short on speed or slightly too long, you still have a one-rail shot with the 9 ball where it is. Itís a small area to land in, so use a good tip of top right.

If I have a nice angle on the 8, I prefer two rails with follow and a tip of left English for a nice easy shot on the 9.