Dynamite Fundamentals. ~Darren Appleton

Firstly, the game at all levels of play starts with fundamentals. With no solid fundamentals, nobody can improve or compete to a decent level. I see too many players—even good players—with poor fundamentals; they hold the cue wrong, along with bad stance and no balance.

The three main keys to good fundamentals are cue action, stance, and head.

Cue Action

Loose grip and a nice smooth follow through; this creates feel and smooth cueing, and a smooth backstroke. Addressing the cue ball should be consistent. For example, if you watch me play I will address the cueball three to five times before I “pull the trigger,” whether the shot is easy or difficult. It’s important to feel comfortable on every shot.

Too many players, especially amateurs, stay down and address the cueball two or three times longer on a difficult shot than than they would on an easier shot. This creates a mental block. Not trusting the arm and mind, the fundamentals will break down. What usually happens is they end up gripping the cue too tight, and on the backstroke follow through way too quickly and choke the cue. The shoulder will drop, and the head will move, and there’s a good chance they will not hit the cue ball on their target. That’s usually when a miss cue will appear.

So, again, consistent addressing of the cueball, a nice loose grip, and smooth follow through are essential. Even on long draw shots the same same applies.

Too many people think they have to hit the cue ball harder to draw it. This is simply not true—all you need do is put a slightly longer backstroke on the shot, or give your cue a little more elevation.

But a nice smooth back stroke the key. The best drill for cue action is mid-range draw shots straight in. Draw the cue ball to the rail, making the shot a little longer when comfortable. Use  the same stroke, but with a slightly longer backstroke. The results will be amazing.