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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

• 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

• 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

Zone Blitz
May 2023

A zone-to-zone drill that will help your speed control.

Cue ball speed control is such a critical part of the game, so hereís a creative drill to help you really improve your speed control. This may seem like a safety game, but what weíre trying to do is get the balls into predetermined zones on each shot. Getting both the cue ball and object ball into a set zone and creating distance is what makes this challenging. Itís also what will help your game a ton.

You can play against an opponent, which is fun. If youíre playing alone, just play for 15 minutes a day, working to get each ball in its zone on each shot. Gives you a good feel for the table and for the cue ball and object ball and getting the speed down. You play a variety of shots, whether thatís banking the ball, playing two or three rails, playing kick shots. Itís all about creativity and feel.

When I play alone, Iím always trying to beat your personal best at successful shots. You should be trying to get into the 10-20 range.

Rules are simple. Start with the cue ball on the head spot and the 1 ball on the foot spot. After each shot, the cue ball and the object ball need to be in the zone between the end rail and second diamond on opposite ends of the table.

On the first shot (Diagram One), hit just below center on the cue ball with a tip of right English. The object on that first shot is to get the cue ball to the middle diamond on the bottom rail and the 1 ball to the middle diamond on the top rail.

From there, continue to get the balls to trade places. (Diagram Two) Some shots will require you to bank the ball back up-table and some shots will require you to kick, which is a great way to stick the cue ball in that zone and bump the 1 ball back to the other end of the table. Itís very important on these long shots that you play high on the cue ball and not low when youíre kicking because itís harder to control the cue ball off the rail if you hit it low. And always keep your eye on the cue ball when shooting kick shots. You want solid contact so that the cue ball sticks where it is.

Shots will continually test your creativity, especially if your previous shot was executed with maximum efficiency. Thatís also why playing against an opponent is fun and challenging. And remember that you donít have to be perfect every time. Itís about speed control. In most game situations there will be other balls on the table, so many of your shots would likely be more effective than they look when there are only two balls on the table.

If one of the balls does break the line and leaves the intended zone, start the drill over from the original starting position. The same if one of the balls happens to find its way into a pocket.

You play loads of different variations of shots that will come up in rotation and one-pocket, which is where creativity comes into play. And even if youíre playing alone, try to make the next shot as difficult on yourself as possible.