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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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

• 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

• 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

Close Quarters
November 2022

Work on your cue ball control in tight spaces with this great drill.

Deft touch with the cue ball is such an important part of your game. Sometimes itís a good thing to practice a drill that focuses on cue ball control in tight spaces.

Hereís a tough drill where pocketing the balls isnít the big issue. The test is in maintaining control of the cue ball and if you want to build a good touch and learn to play in close spaces, this is the drill for you. Trust me, this drill will make you crazy at times, but itís very rewarding when you conquer it, and it will improve your touch and cue ball control in close quarters. Again, this is a difficult drill, so take baby steps or you will get aggravated early. Getting to the 6 ball is a good effort, and improving your scores will keep you busy.

The setup for this drill is easy, and since the balls are so close together, itís easy to reset the positions if you miss.

Start with cue ball in hand (Diagram One). Youíll want to leave a slight angle, use the rail and try to get straight in on the 2 ball. No English required here, just high cue ball. Draw straight back off the 2 ball for position on the 3.

This is where things get a little tricky (Diagram Two). You canít bump other balls, so you need to find the gap between the 4 and 5 balls. This may be the toughest shot in the drill, so donít get frustrated if you mess this up. I usually play this high on the cue ball and with a touch of left English. It may take a few times to find that gap.

If youíve made it through, the shot from the 4 to the 5 also requires great touch. If you can squeeze between the 5 and 6 and land properly on the 5 ball, youíre past the toughest part of the drill. Use middle cue ball with a touch of left.

Going from the 5 to the 6 is really just a simple stop shot (Diagram Three), but you need to keep your focus because this is the home stretch and Iíve messed up these last four balls before.

Cue ball speed is important here. Use a high cue ball with a tip of right English. Go three rails for position on the 7.

Youíll run the cue ball across the table and back for the last two shots ó from the 7 to the 8, and from the 8 to the 9 (Diagram Four). On the 7 ball, itís important to not quit on the shot. You need to get the cue ball out high enough for the 8. I usually play this shot just below center with a half-tip of left. Donít decelerate on this shot or you will come straight back across and leave no angle for the 8.

From the 8 to the 9 you can let your stroke out a little more. Because the 9 is the only ball on the table, you can come in higher. Cue just below center with a half-tip of left. Again, focus on this shot. Donít get complacent because nothing is worse than messing up on the last ball. Trust me, I know!

Again, this drill requires great touch and cue ball control. You have to find the gaps and stay in line. Itís a great drill variation for these tight window shots on the rail.