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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

• 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

• 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

Look Ma, No Rails!
July 2023

A simple game requires minimal movement and cue ball control.

Wouldnít we all like to have the cue ball control that Buddy Hall displayed for so many years? During my peak, fans and players told me that mine was at that level. Iíve always prided myself on good cue ball control. I donít like using rails unless I need to. It makes the game much easier and less stressful.

Of course, every player has his own style and preference. Players like Earl Strickland always preferred to let their stroke out and use rails. Players like Ralf Souquet like tight control and a simple game. Both work for me, but itís always about playing to your strengths. And Iíve always studied and worked hardest on great cue ball control.

Here is a great cue ball control drill for beginners (but useful for all levels) to get the feel of shots and get your touch dialed in. This will force you to keep close control of the cue ball. The difficulty of this drill can also be increased as you begin to consistently conquer the version here. You can tweak it by shooting the 1-4 in the corners and 5-6 in the side pockets. That would require even more touch and feel. And while the original drill may look easy, the key shots (the 7 and 8) can be tricky. Thatís where youíre most likely to stumble. If you do, donít worry. Just set them back up and try to understand where you went wrong.

The rules are simple: Make the balls in rotation; no rails allowed; no bumping balls.

You start with ball in hand. The diagrams show the original layout and hereís how I would go about this drill.

Use just a touch of draw off the 1 ball to set up a fairly straight shot on the 2. Full contact and a nice half-tip of draw off the 2 will set you up for the 3.

You donít want to get too close to the 3 ball, just a nice natural angle so you can just roll the 3 in using a high ball. This is all about speed control.

Again, if you get nice and straight on the 4 ball, just use a tip of draw. Make sure youíre not too thin on the 5 ball. And you donít need to get too close to the 6. Just use another easy draw shot.

The 6 is a key shot. We want to make sure we get good position on the 7. Percentages will tell you to play for the 7 straight or nearly straight to the corner. That will make it easy to get shape for the 8. Good position on the 7 is critical, so just roll the 6 in with maybe a touch of left English.

Use a nice little draw shot to bring the cue ball back a foot or two for a slight angle on the 8 ball. Itís better to play for the 8 in the corner than in the side pocket because unless you land perfect on the 8 for the side, itís going to be difficult to play for the 9 without touching a rail. The percentages here tell you to play for the 8 in the corner. It allows more room to play with and the shot is only slightly tougher.

With just a little angle on the 8, I use a punch shot. Cue just about center on the cue ball and donít hit it too hard. This shot takes a little practice. If youíre in good stroke, these shots are easy. It will give you a lot of feedback about your stroke.

Even on the 9 ball you want to be close to straight in because you must still avoid a cushion after the shot. No cheating here at the end!