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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

• 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
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

Money Ball Drill II
April 2023

Planning ahead and facing last-ball pressure ó 9-ball version.

Here is a spin-off drill from last monthís Money Ball 10-Ball Drill. This is the 9-ball version. The similarity is that you shoot the lowest ball on the table first, then the ďmoney ballĒ ó in this case, the 9 ball. Then you re-spot the 9 and play the next lowest ball, and so on. The difference here is that this version is played on just one end of the table.

This is a good, easy-to-follow drill but can be very effective in helping you with your touch, stroke and pattern play. And donít be fooled by how easy this drill looks. It can be easy if your cue ball is really good, but itís also very easy to get out of line. Itís a great drill for all levels, but especially for amateurs looking to improve their touch and patterns in tight areas. There are no long shots, so shot-making is the easiest part of the drill. This drill is really about the cue ball, so it will help you in all games.

I say it all the time: Touch and staying in line is what really separates the great pros from the good pros and the good amateurs from the low-level amateurs. Cue ball control is something I pride myself on and something Iíve worked on my entire career. One of the reasons I donít class myself as a great shot maker is because my cue ball control was so good that I was rarely in a position to have to make a long, tough shot.

One of the reasons I like these ďmoney ballĒ drills is because many amateur players struggle getting from the key ball to the money ball. In this drill, every shot is a key ball, so you learn one ball after the next how to hold your focus and nerve to get on that next shot.

There are several versions of this drill. Stay within your ability at the start. You can shoot the 1-9 in rotation, allowing the cue ball to land anywhere and use any rails but you must not bump into balls; you can shoot lowest numbered ball followed by the 9 but allow the cue ball to go anywhere; you can do the drill as shown, in which the cue ball must stay in the zone area ó from the middle diamond line to the middle of the table (side pockets). If the cue ball leaves that zone, you must start over.

Again, if your cue ball is good, this drill isnít that difficult, but it does demand focus. Here is roughly how the drill went for me. If you stray too far from this approach it will be difficult.

Starting with the 1 ball (Diagram One), use a soft little draw with a touch of right, which is important with balls frozen along the rail. Donít quit on the shot. That leads you to the 9 ball, which is a punch shot with a touch of left. Using the rail will allow you to let your stroke out a little and land on the right side of the 2.

For the 2 ball I just kill the cue ball with a touch of left. This helps throw the 2 ball into the corner pocket and holds the cue ball below the 9. As always, weíre thinking two or three shots ahead. Itís important to practice these little soft punch or draw shots. I shorten my stroke a bit.

In this case, I got perfect position on the 9 ball (Diagram Two), so I just needed a little follow, adding a tip of right and using the rail again to come out for the 3 ball.

Again, with the proper angle on the 3, all that is required is a little follow and a tip of right English for the 9. Here, I didnít leave as much angle on the 9 as I wanted (Diagram Three). Itís important that you find a way to get back into proper position from this stage on. I just used a punch draw. Again, shorten your stroke to gain maximum feel and control.

I landed a little straight on the 4 ball. When this happens you have to hit the cue ball pretty firm with a punch stroke, so stay down and focused so that you donít miss the shot.

Itís always nice when you land perfectly on the 9 (Diagram Four), as is the case here. You donít need to use a rail. Just a little draw shot. Again, shorten your stroke in tight spaces like this. You can shorten your stroke by either shortening your back stroke or by moving your bridge hand a little closer to the ferrule.

The 5 ball here requires a little punch shot, using the rail for position. With a wider angle on the 9 (Diagram Five), follow the cue ball to the long rail using a quarter-tip of left. With perfect position here on the 6 ball; again I can just draw back a few inches.

While Iím perfect on the 9 ball here, this is where a lot of players will break down. Stay focused. Just a little draw shot, so shorten your stroke.

On the last few shots ó the 7, 8 and alternating 9 balls ó try to stay close to your work with little draw shots (Diagram Six). Those shots are so easy. This will also allow you to go from shot to shot without having to use the side rails.

As you can see, it doesnít look hard, but it can be tricky and requires your complete focus. Itís a must drill for amateurs that need to work on pattern play.