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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!

• 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

• 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

Triangle To Triangle
June 2023

A pattern drill that puts value on keeping the cue ball center table.

Hereís the first of a two-part series on the Triangle to Triangle 9-Ball Pattern Drill. Itís actually two variations of the same drill, but you will need to master this first (easier) version before taking on the more difficult version.

Donít get me wrong, this first version isnít easy. Starting here will help improve your cue ball and is a great example of why center table is almost always optimal. As with all pattern drill, this is about thinking three balls ahead and leaving angles for the next ball.

No power strokes required here. Follow, with a little English, should be sufficient. Itís more of a feel drill, and good cue ball speed makes the game so much easier.

The rules are simple. Starting with cue ball in hand, pocket the 1-9 in rotation. Youíre not allowed to bump other balls. Beginners donít need to hit a rail, but for advanced players the cue ball must contact at least one rail on each shot.

Obviously, each shot is going to be a little different, depending on where the cue ball comes to rest. But here is how I would ideally play the drill:

Iím going to start with a nice half-ball angle on the 1 and play it with a little high right to come two rails between the 3 and 7 balls for position on the 2 (Diagram One). Ideally, Iíd like to have the identical position and shot on the 2 and take the cue ball two rails between the 4 and 8 balls. Iíd like to leave the cue ball to shoot at the 3 in the window between the 5 and 9 balls.

The shot for the 3 and 4 should be the same, high right with a good stroke on the balls (Diagram Two). Commit to the shot and use a good tempo. I see a lot of amateur players fail on this because they try to hit the ball too hard and with a quick stroke.

Once I get to the 5 ball (Diagram Three), Iím using left English because I want to make sure to leave a nice angle on the 6 ball. Just let the cue ball so the work. You donít need to force balls. Thatís when things go wrong, especially as you near the finish line and your adrenaline starts pumping.

Iím using a good half-tip of right English on the 6 with a good stroke because I need the cue ball to travel further this time to get closer to the 7. Not too much English because I want to avoid the side pocket.

The 7 ball is where a lot of players will stumble because itís a more severe cut and the nerves are starting to kick in (Diagram Four). Stick with this shot. Shoot it again if you miss. Get the feel for it. In this case I landed pretty good on the 8 and have two options. I like to play two rails of the angle allows. Two-rail shots give me better speed control and feel for the shot. One rail is fine if you prefer. That would mean using less English and focusing more on the cue ball. The only negative for me, personally, is that itís harder to guarantee position. I play this with a lot of left, which means you donít have to hit it as hard. Let the spin do the work and hopefully the cue ball will hit the rail just before the side pocket. This takes a lot of practice to feel confident of avoiding the side pockets. Top pros are so good at this shot. Fans often think the player got lucky to not scratch, but most times they know exactly where that cue ball is going to catch the rail.

Another big shot on the 8 ball, although you donít need to do a lot with the cue ball. With the position shown, I again prefer to go two rails with high cue ball and a lot of right English, using the second rail to slow the cue ball down. Again, one-rail here requires more touch and can be a little twitchy.

This is a great drill, and it will help improve cue ball speed and judging the amount of English needed. Using the rails will give you a good feel for the table. Leaving nice angles and sticking to a good rhythm makes this a great pattern drill for everyone.

Next month, however, wonít be so easy!