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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

• 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

• 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 Cushions
December 2023

A nice 15 ball drill that requires great cue ball control.

This drill has a little bit of everything, so it will improve your success in every game, from rotation games to 8-ball, one-pocket and straight pool. Itís another drill that forces you to think ahead, and when you get down to the last seven or eight balls, you really need to be on point with your cue ball.
I use this drill all the time with my students, and they all love it. It looks easy, but it will have you scratching your head at times. Once you eventually complete the drill, you can be assured your cue ball control and pattern play have improved.
I always talk about cue ball control in tight spaces, and this drill requires that. But you will also learn the importance of cheating the pocket and killing the cue ball.
The rules for this drill are simple: Start with ball in hand and shoot the balls in any order. You can bump another ball and the cue ball canít touch a rail. If the drill is too difficult at the start, allow yourself the option of using a rail if necessary. But even then, try to make as many shots as possible without touching a rail.
There are multiple ways to attack this drill. I suggest leaving the middle balls as long as you can because they are great safety nets if you get out of position on the balls along the middle diamonds. Again, once you get to the last seven or eight balls, you need to start thinking through your run-out pattern, just like in 8-ball and straight pool. I always try to give myself two options when playing those games, and this drill is no different.

Here is the way I approached the drill:
I start with a corner ball first. In this case, itís the 11 ball in pocket E. This is just a little punch shot. Based on the cue ball, I opted to shoot the 10 into the same pocket and use a soft draw to get a nice angle on the 15 into the side pocket C. That angle allows me to draw off the 15 for the 6 in pocket E. Iím hoping to get pretty straight on this shot, and simply draw back for the 3 in pocket E.
Now that youíve eliminated all the balls along the head string, kill the cue ball for the 1 in pocket F. Just roll this ball in with a touch of right to line up with the 7 to pocket B. Playing for this shot is important because now Iím thinking of my pattern. I still have the balls near the side pocket as safety valves in case I lose the cue ball a little. Sometimes itís worth taking a slightly more difficult shot that offers higher reward when you have that safety net.
Use a soft draw on the 7 for the 12 ball, and punch draw from the 12 for the 4 ball. Now you can start connecting the dots. Soft draw on the 4 give you a straight shot on the 14 to pocket D. A stop shot on the 14 will gives you the 2 ball to pocket B, and a soft draw will give you the 13 in pocket C. Punch the cue ball out from there for a simple shot on the 8.

The end is near, with your remaining shots being little more than simple stop shots, first on the 8, followed by the 5 and, finally, the 9 into pocket A.
Making life simple is the name of the game. And if you can control the cue ball and make it your best friend, it will reward you with great success at the table.
I love these types of drills because it teaches you so much about the physics of the cue ball.
Youíll be like Efren in no time!