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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

• November 2022
Close Quarters

• 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

Alternate Universe
December 2022

This simple drill can have a dramatic impact on your game.

Here is an alternating pocket rotation drill that is perfect for moving the cue ball. Itís one of my favorites and I use it with my students because itís a perfect practice drill.

The task is simple: Alternate shots into the two corner pockets. Odd numbers in bottom right, even numbers in bottom left.

What I love about this drill is that it forces you to stay in line and on the right side of the balls, otherwise youíre going to be in deep trouble. Itís not as easy as it looks. It is, however, easy to set up and itís all on the same half of the table. It offers plenty of freedom with your stroke. Your touch doesnít have to be perfect, but you still need to keep on the proper side of the ball.

Once you get this drill down, youíll see the benefits and improvements in your game. Your pattern play will improve, as will your cue ball control. As always, if you donít get perfect position, youíll have to be creative. And you will get out of line every so often, so finding a way back in line is really important.

The setup and rules are simple enough: Rotation, 1-9, with odd numbered balls in the bottom left and even numbered balls in bottom right. Start with cue ball in hand. Youíre not allowed to touch another ball.

Hereís how I played the drill:

I like to leave a simple angle on the 1 ball (Diagram One) and use follow with just a touch of right, sending the cue ball down off the bottom rail to leave a nice angle on the 2 ball.

The 2 is a tricky positional shot on which you need a good stroke and good feel for speed. Aim high on the cue ball with just a touch of right to come off the long rail and out above the balls.

Just to show you how to alter your plan, I came in a little short on the 3 ball (Diagram Two), so I need to play a high cue ball with a little right with very slow speed. Another way to play this shot would be to kill the cue ball with lots of bottom right, but that would be difficult to execute.

High cue ball with a fair amount of right is required on this shot on the 4, much like the shot on the 2 ball. Again, speed control is important. You need a confident stroke.

Use high right on both the 5 ball and 6 (Diagram Three), with an easy stroke on the 5 and good speed control on the 6.

Use a simple little punch shot on the 7 (Diagram Four) with a hair of left English to guarantee an angle on the 8. Then high right with a confident stroke to get two rails from the 8 to the 9. One rail is fine too, but Iíve always felt like you could hit the ball a little harder with the two-rail shot. You should have a pretty straight shot at the 9 ball.

Again, this drill will help you learn the importance of staying on the right side of the balls, using just enough spin and cue ball speed. Staying high above these balls also makes the drill easier. The beauty of this drills is that the balls are not difficult to pocket. You can work on your speed and control.