From APA Rulebook, Team Manual, Scoresheets and Other Materials (For League Years 2008/2009 & 2009/2010) - Rule Index

General Description
8-Ball is played with a cue ball and normal rack of fifteen (15) object balls. The purpose of this game is for one player to pocket the solid balls numbered from 1 to 7 or the striped balls numbered from 9 to 15, and then marking and pocketing the 8-ball before his opponent. Choice of balls to be pocketed is made by the player legally pocketing the first ball of the game.

1. Lag
Method used to start a match. Players simultaneously shoot a ball from behind the head string, banking it off the foot rail and back to the head of the table. Striking the side rails or any pocket results in loss of the lag. The closest ball to the head rail wins. It is permissible to strike the head rail. If the lagged balls make contact during the lag, re-lag.

2. Racking
All balls should be frozen (touching) as tightly as possible. Balls are racked with the front ball on the foot spot and the 8-ball in the center. The breaking player may request and receive a rerack.

3. Breaking
To be a legal break, players must break from behind the head string, the head ball or second ball must be struck first and at least four object balls must be driven to the rails or a ball must be pocketed. The cue ball may not be shot into a rail before the rack. If the break does not qualify as legal, the balls are reracked and rebroken by the same player. If the break does not qualify as legal and results in a scratch, the balls are reracked and broken by the opposite player.

THE RACK MUST BE STRUCK BEFORE A FOUL CAN OCCUR. Breaking safe or soft is not allowed. The League Operator may make judgments and issue penalties to teams and players who are not breaking hard. Breaking just hard enough to comply with this rule is not a guarantee against penalties. Remember, break as hard as you can with control.

4. After the Break
Various circumstances can occur upon completion of the break. They are:
  • a. A foul on a legal break results in ball-in-hand behind the head string and the incoming player may shoot any ball outside the head string (see diagram of table in Team Manual for explanation). A ball that's dead center or "out" is playable. If it is "in", the ball is not playable. It is up to the opponent to call the cue ball "in" before it is shot. (See Team Manual for a more complete explanation.)
  • b. No balls are pocketed and it is the other player's turn.
  • c. The 8-ball is pocketed. This is a win, unless the player scratches, in which case he loses.
  • d. One ball is pocketed; it is still the breaker's turn and he continues shooting the category of balls he just made. e. One ball of each category is pocketed. The breaker has his choice of balls. He may shoot any ball, except the 8-ball (which would be a foul), and each pocketed ball counts. If he makes one of each category on his second shot, he still has an "open table." If he misses or fouls on his second shot, his opponent has an "open table." "Open table" means a player can shoot a combination involving a stripe and a solid and whichever he makes, without committing a foul, would be his category.
  • f. If two balls of one category and one ball of the other category are pocketed, it is the shooter's choice just as in "e" above.
  • g. Occasionally it occurs that a player mistakenly starts shooting the wrong category of balls. Although it is sportsmanlike for the sitting player to remind the shooting player that he is about to foul by shooting the wrong category of balls, it is not a requirement for him to do so. Once the shooter has hit the wrong category of balls, the foul has occurred whether the ball is pocketed or not. If the ball is pocketed, it is permissible, though not recommended, that the sitting player allow the shooting player to continue shooting his balls in until he feels inclined to call the foul. The shooting player can escape penalty by quietly realizing his error and returning to shoot the correct category of balls and legally contacting one of them before his opponent calls foul, or by finishing off the wrong category of balls and legally contacting the 8-ball prior to his opponent calling a foul. In other words, the sitting player must call the foul before the shooter returns to the correct category and legally contacts one or before the shooter pockets the remaining balls of the wrong category and legally contacts the 8-ball. Once a player makes legal contact with the 8-ball, the player assumes control of that category of wrongly pocketed balls and can win the game by pocketing the 8-ball. Before any foul has occurred, the shooter also may avoid penalty by asking the sitting player which category of balls he has. The sitting player must tell him the truth.

5. Combination Shots
Combination shots are legal, but striking the correct ball first is required except in an "open table" situation. The 8-ball is not neutral. A player is credited with all balls he legally pockets. When a player does not pocket one of his balls but pockets an opponent's ball, he loses his turn. The opponent gets credit for the pocketed ball. No pocketed ball is ever spotted.

6. Balls on the Floor
If the 8-ball is knocked on the floor, it is loss of game. Object balls knocked on the floor are spotted. If the spot is taken, the ball is placed on a line directly behind the spot as close as possible. Knocking a ball other than the cue ball on the floor is not a foul. It might occur that a player pockets his ball while simultaneously knocking another ball on the floor. In this situation, it is still his turn and the ball is not spotted until he misses. If the ball on the floor is one of the shooter's balls, it is spotted when the shooter has pocketed all of his other balls or misses.

7. Pocketed Balls
Balls must remain in a pocket to be legal. If a ball goes in a pocket, but bounces back onto the playing surface, it is not considered pocketed. If it is the 8-ball, it is not considered either a win or loss. If it is the cue ball, it is not considered a scratch.

8. One Foot on the Floor
While shooting, at least one foot must be on the floor at all times if a bridge is available. There is no foul—simply stop the shooter and hand him the bridge. League Management cannot guarantee the presence of bridges and some Host Locations may not have them. Exception: Players shooting from a wheelchair must remain seated in their wheelchair while shooting.

9. Fouls
If any of the following fouls are committed, the penalty is ball-in-hand for the incoming player. Make certain you have ball-in-hand before you touch the cue ball by confirming with your opponent. Ball-in-hand means you are allowed to place the cue ball anywhere on the table (with the exception of a scratch on the break which results in ball-in-hand behind the head string) and shoot any of your balls (or the 8, if all of your category of balls have been pocketed). Even after having addressed the cue ball, a player may, if not satisfied with the placement, make further adjustments with the hand, cue stick or any other reasonable piece of equipment. A foul may be called only if the player fouls while actually stroking at the cue ball, meaning a double hit of the cue ball (sometimes called double clutching). The ball-in-hand rule penalizes a player for an error. Without this rule, a player could benefit by accidentally or purposely scratching or otherwise fouling.

ONLY THE PLAYER OR THE COACH MAY OFFICIALLY CALL A FOUL although anyone may suggest to the player or the coach that a foul should be called.


  • a. Anytime the cue ball goes in a pocket, on the floor, or otherwise ends up off the playing surface.
  • b. Failure to hit your object ball first. (A player who is shooting stripes must hit a striped ball first.) The 8-ball is not neutral. The shooter has the advantage in these situations unless his opponent has asked an outside party to watch the hit. Protect yourself. If you think your opponent is attempting a shot that could result in a bad hit, get someone to watch the shot before he starts shooting. Teams involved in repeatedly calling bad hits without outside party verification may be subject to penalty points for disruptive unsportsmanlike behavior.
  • c. Failure to hit a rail after contact. A sentence that should answer many questions is: "Any ball (including the cue ball) must go to a rail AFTER LEGAL contact." A pocketed ball counts as a rail.
  • d. The object ball is frozen to a rail and the player is contemplating playing a "safety." In order for the "frozen ball" rule to be in effect, the opponent must declare the ball frozen and the player should verify. Once it is agreed the ball is frozen the player must drive the object ball to another rail (of course, it could hit another ball, which in turn hits a rail) or drive the cue ball to a rail after it touches the object ball. If the latter method of safety is chosen the player should be sure to obviously strike the object ball first. If the cue ball strikes the rail first or appears to hit both the rail and ball simultaneously, it is a foul unless either the cue ball or object ball went to some other rail.
  • e. It is a foul to jump a cue ball over another ball by purposely miscuing it up in the air (scooping). Accidental miscuing is not a foul unless other rules in this section are violated.
  • f. Receiving illegal aid (coaching from person(s) other than the coach) during your turn at the table. It is not considered illegal aid to remind a player to mark the pocket when shooting the 8-ball, or to tell a player a foul has occurred. Anyone may do so.
  • g. Causing movement of the cue ball, even accidentally, is a foul. It is not a foul to accidentally move any other balls (including the 8-ball) unless, during his turn at the table, a player moves a ball and it in turn strikes the cue ball. Even dropping the chalk on the cue ball is a foul. Any balls moved accidentally during a shot must be replaced by the opponent after the shot is over and all balls have stopped rolling. If it occurs before the shot, it must be replaced by the opponent before the shot is taken. Exception: If an accidentally moved ball comes in contact with the cue ball, creating a foul, no object ball will be replaced.
  • h. If, during the course of a shot, the cue ball does not touch anything.
  • i. Use caution when picking up or placing the cue ball in a ball-in-hand situation. The cue ball is always alive. If the cue ball, or the hand holding it or moving it, touches another ball it is a cue ball foul and your opponent has ball-in-hand. Be especially careful when picking up or placing the cue ball in a tight spot.
  • j. The player or his coach (during a coaching timeout) may place the cue ball in a ball-in-hand situation. The same rule regarding placing the cue ball applies to the coach as applies to the player. If the player, or coach fouls in the process of placing the cue ball, it will be ball-in-hand for the opponent. Therefore, it should be the player's choice if he wishes to place the cue ball or allow his coach to do so.

10. There are various ways to lose:
  • a. Your opponent pockets his numerical group and legally pockets the 8-ball.
  • b. You pocket the 8-ball out of turn or knock it on the floor.
  • c. You pocket the 8-ball in the wrong pocket or fail to properly mark the pocket.
  • d.You foul the cue ball and then pocket the 8-ball.
  • e. When playing the 8-ball, you scratch.
    Note: A player attempting to shoot the 8-ball but missing it has fouled, resulting in ball-in-hand for his opponent. This is NOT loss of game.
  • f. A game is forfeited if you alter the course of the 8-ball or the cue ball in a game losing situation.

11. How to Win
A player has won the game when all the balls of his numerical group have been pocketed and he has legally pocketed the 8-ball in a properly marked pocket without scratching. To properly mark the pocket, a coaster or some other reasonable object (to avoid confusion, we do not recommend marking the pocket with chalk), must be placed next to the pocket the 8-ball is intended to enter. Both teams may use the same marker. Only one marker should be on the table. If the marker is already at the intended pocket from a previous attempt or game, it is not necessary for the shooter to touch it, pick it up or reposition it.

Note: You cannot play the 8-ball while simultaneously playing the last ball of your category. The 8-ball must be a separate shot.

APA 8 Ball Rule Index

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