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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

• 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

• 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

Draw Bridge
August 2022

Where you place your hands makes a big difference on draw shots.

Perfect practice isnít always about drills.

Sometimes, perfect practice means total focus on fundamentals and execution. The most common flaw in amateur players (and even lower-level pros) is a faulty stroke and execution.

Because so many amateurs struggle with drawing the cue ball, letís work on that this month.

Here are the most common problems I see with amateurs when it comes to drawing the cue ball:

  • Hand position
  • Contact point on the cue ball
  • Hitting the ball too hard
  • Stroke too quick
  • Not bringing the cue ball far enough
  • Not driving through the cue ball
  • Tension in lower arm, shoulder and hand
  • Bad timing and tempo
  • Holding the cue in the wrong part of the butt

Most amateurs donít aim low enough on the cue ball. That could be because they are afraid of miscuing. That happens when your hand is too close to or too far away from the cue ball. Your tempo and timing get thrown off and your stroke becomes ďjabby.Ē Then you scoop the cue ball. I see that time and again.

Also, a lot of players donít hold the butt of the cue in the right spot and their forearm is not straight. That causes you to aim as shown in the ďwrongĒ cueing option. Striking the cue ball here requires you to hit the cue ball way too hard to get it to draw back to the short rail. The problem gets compounded by stabbing at the cue ball, moving your head, and having too much tension in your arms and shoulders and hands.

Aiming a little higher on the cue ball is fine if you just want to draw it a foot. You donít need to strike the ball as hard. And because your more comfortable with a short draw, youíre automatically more relaxed in the arms and mind.

Most of the problem is that your hand is either too far away (12 inches) from the cue ball or too close (6 inches or closer) to it. The problem here is that the distance affects your timing and tempo. If youíre too far from the cue ball, you run out of cue by the time you hit the cue ball. You lose timing and donít drive through the ball. If you are too close, you canít pull the cue far enough back and your stroke is too quick.

Letís do it the right way.

First, keep you forearm pointing straight down (for me, pointing towards my right foot). If you put your hand 8-10 inches from the cue ball (optimum distance), you will know exactly where your hand needs to be on the butt of your cue. If you are shorter, having your hand 6-8 inches from the cue ball is fine, as long as your forearm is pointing straight down where you grip the cue. This is critical for maintaining the proper timing and tempo. If your arm is not straight, it will cause your shoulder and arm to drop. If your arm is bent, you will also end up with a shovel stroke. You want your forearm and hand swinging back and forth on the same plane. Thatís what creates proper timing and tempo.

When practicing this, it sometimes helps to put markers on the table for training purposes. Finding the right distance from the cue ball is very important. Count to two on the backswing and the third count should be the follow through. Finish at least 3-4 inches past the cue ball. And remember, itís vital to maintain a loose grip, have no tension in your arm and keep your head still. This should allow you to hit the cue ball as low as possible (ďRightĒ). Along as your tip is chalked and you have good tempo, you donít have to worry about miscuing. The cue ball will draw back up table very easily with little effort.

Remember, find the right distance for you from the cue ball, use a loose grip and keep your forearm straight. If you do these three things, pull the cue back on a two count and swing on three, follow through and aim low on the cue ball, your draw shot will never be a problem. After a while, it will become second nature. Practice the shot as depicted in the diagram before every practice session.

And hereís a little tip for longer distance draw shots: I move my hand back on the butt 1-2 inches and move my bridge hand back the same distance from the cue ball. This allows me to generate more draw without hitting the ball any harder, which, in turn, allows me to keep my tempo and timing.

First, though, build confidence with short to midrange draw shots. Youíll learn a lot about your stroke and what itís capable of.