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Darren Appleton

Instruction Articles:
• 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

• 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

• 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

No rails, part II
August 2023

Your cue ball control will be put to the test.

Hereís part II of the no-rail drill I offered last month. Hopefully, you worked on Part I to the point of being pretty consistent with it. This version, which positions the balls slightly different, is much tougher and will be the ultimate test for players of all levels. But thatís okay because we need to push ourselves if we hope to improve.

Again, pool comes down to cue ball control, and if you can move the cue ball around the table without needing to use the rails, the game becomes much simpler and easier. And thatís what you want when the pressure is on.

Of course, there are benefits to using the rails when necessary, but if you can simplify the game it allows you to focus on your touch, especially in tight windows.

The rules are simple: Start with cue ball in hand; no rails; no bumping other balls; shoot in rotation.

Itís important that you start with the cue ball close to the 1 ball (Diagram One) so that you have maximum control and feel. It requires only a punch draw. Let the cue ball do the work. There are actually three options from here. Going under the 9 ball to the right leaves a long shot on the 3, and going between the 7 and 9 is dangerous. The best option is to draw straight back into the gap between the 7 and 8. Donít be greedy on the 3 ball. Keep it simple with a nice, low draw shot.

The 4 ball is the big shot here, as it has a bit of distance and itís easy to bump a ball or catch a rail. You have to commit to the stroke, again aiming low and driving through the cue ball with a controlled draw and no side spin.

Now the pressure is on (Diagram Two). The shot on the 5 is easy, but make sure to hit the right side of the 5 to get on the 6. Remember, weíre always looking three balls ahead. Just a touch of left and baby punch draw. The 6 should be the same shot as the 5, but this time donít leave too much angle on the 7 ball.

The 7 is the biggest shot of the drill and your shot selection will depend on the angle you have. If you have a big angle, you can draw past the 8 and play it in the side pocket. You can also play for the 8 in the bottom left corner, but you canít come up short on the 8 or youíre no-rail run is over. If you land as I did in Diagram Two, you could draw for the 8 in the top left. That position requires perfect draw. Rolling the cue ball for position in the top right is easier. The speed is easier to judge, and the window is slightly larger.

In this case, I landed perfect on the 8, so I just used a punch draw with a touch of left. Again, this requires good feel. Pick your landing spot and trust your stroke. The 9 should be easy, but even here you canít touch a rail.

This is much harder than it looks and has frustrated me numerous times, which is annoying. But keep plugging away because eventually you will reap the benefits. And feeling the cue ball control once youíve mastered this will convince you that you can do anything on a pool table.