In reference to the image below, the cue ball rested on top of a rail after my opponent attempted a shot. During a different game, I shot the cue ball on top of a rail (to avoid other solid and striped balls) and nearly converted a shot.

Would the cue ball on top of a rail still be considered legal and playable? Would this be considered a scratch?

cue ball


If the cue ball is shot and is resting on the rail, it is considered not in play.

According to the United States Professional Pool Players Association Rule 3.b, this occurrence would result in a break foul.

Break fouls include the following:

b. If the cue ball is pocketed or driven off the table it is a foul and the non-breaking >player has cue ball in hand behind the head string (from the “kitchen.”)

According to the World Pool Billiard Association, this occurrence is also a foul under rule 6.1 sub rule 8.5

6.1 Cue Ball Scratch or off the Table

If the cue ball is pocketed or driven off the table, the shot is a foul. See 8.3 Ball Pocketed and 8.5 Driven off the Table.

8.5 Driven off the Table

A ball is considered driven off the table if it comes to rest other than on the playing surface but is not pocketed. A ball is also considered driven off the table if it would have been driven off the table except for striking an object such as a light fixture, piece of chalk or a player which causes it to return to the table. A ball that contacts the top of the rail is not considered to have been driven off the table if it returns to the playing surface or enters a pocket.

  • 1
    So, in the circumstances I present above, a cue ball resting on top of a rail is considered not in play whereas using the top of the rail for my shot is in play as long as the cue ball rests on the playing surface.
    – user527
    Nov 6 '13 at 15:49
  • You are correct
    – Zack
    Nov 6 '13 at 15:49

As it is often unpleasant to read the intense legal documents that are sports rules, I will put it like this:

The ball has to finish up on the table, or in a pocket, for a shot to be legal.

I once had a pot hit the corner pocket too hard - sending the ball up onto the cushion rail. It raced along said rail before plunging delightfully into the side (middle) pocket. I knew it was OK in snooker, and the TD said it was fine in USA 9 ball too.

  • The entirety of rules needed to answer this question consists of a sixteen-word excerpt, which is fewer words than the single sentence in this answer that actually responds to the question.
    – Nij
    Jan 14 '19 at 21:59

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