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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• July 2024
V for Victory

• 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

• 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

• 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

Diamond in the Rough
September 2022

A new drill that offers a great challenge.

Occasionally, I get really creative and invent a drill that will challenge me.

I made up this monthís drill recently and fell in love with it straight away. I call it the 16 Shot, Double Diamond 9-Ball Chain Drill. Itís difficult, but there are two versions so everyone can have a go at it.

This drill has a bit of everything, even a touch of snooker style. It focuses on playing shape for the key ball (the 9) but still thinking two or three shots ahead each time. Like all good drills, this will help with all aspects of your game ó using the rails, pattern play, options, speed control.

The rules are that you shoot the 1-9 in rotation, and you can shoot them into any pocket. The kicker is that after making the lowest ball each time, you must shoot the 9. You then re-spot the 9 and shoot the next-lowest ball on the table. So, you shoot the 1, then the 9. Re-spot the 9 and shoot the 2, then the 9 again, and so on.

The drill is 16 shots in all. If this proves too challenging, you can choose any ball first, but you must still shoot the 9 with your next shot. Either way, you canít bump other balls.

The shots donít get any easier (particularly from the 4 to the 9 and the 9 to the 5 because you change sides of the table), so you must maintain focus and concentration throughout this drill. Your creativity will be tested if you do get a little out of line and need to find a way to get back in position.

Itís an easy drill to set up, as indicated in Diagram One. Starting with ball in hand, leave a nice angle on the 1 ball for a natural path to the 9 ball. Stay above the 9 to offer a natural path toward the 2. With the 1 gone and the 9 re-spotted, follow two rails off the 2 ball for position on the 9.

Soft draw will get you from the 9 to the 3 ball (Diagram Two). Follow two rails off the 3 ball.

There are a number of options on the 9 here, but I would make the position from the 4 to the 9 as easy as possible. This is the shot you need to be near-perfect on because the key shot to this drill will be shape on the 5 ball.

I would try to get almost straight on the 4 ball (Diagram Three) just to make certain you get on the right side of the 9.

If you happen to land on the 9 as shown in the diagram, congratulations! The next shot would be just about feel and judging the speed.

If you have a half-ball cut on the 5 ball, use the same shot you played on the 1 ball to get back to the center of the table for the 9. If the angle is bigger, you probably need to go three rails around the table.

If youíve gained the position from the 5 to the 9 as shown in the diagram, youíre well on your way home. As long as youíre close to the 9 ball, you can more or less repeat the same pattern as you used from the 1 to the 4 balls.

From the 9, try to keep up table and close to the 9 ball position for your next shot on the 6. Again, two rails with follow will do the trick, more or less repeating the same pattern as the 1-4 diamond chain.

For the 9 ball, staying close to your work will always make life easier and the balls less missable.

Use two rails with follow on the 7 ball. If you can gain position on the 9, youíre getting close to the finish line. One more decent positional finish on the 9 ball and youíre home free.

Donít lose focus on the 8 ball. Keep it simple. Remember, any pocket for that final 9 will do.

If you use the Level 2 version of this drill, you would do well to still take the 1 ball as your first shot because it clears the cue ballís path for the outer balls in the diamond. This version is a great starter option and will still build your game and give you the confidence to eventually attack Version 1.

This is a tricky little drill for sure, but a fun one. Itís easy to set up and it will help you improve every aspect of your game, including your mental game. It has everything you need in a drill without being crazy hard. Enjoy.