General Rules


Each player begins with a ball in hand behind the head string on either side of the long string. Players shoot approximately the same time. Each player's ball must strike the foot cushion and return towards the head rail. The player whose ball lands closest to the head rail wins the lag. The winner of the lag can choose to break or can require their opponent to break. The winner of each rack has the break on the subsequent rack. A player will lose the lag if their ball: fails to contact the foot cushion; hits a side cushion; is pocketed or jumps off the table; crosses the long string.


You must rack for yourself when breaking. The balls should be racked as tightly as possible. Your opponent may inspect the rack and require a re-rack if not satisfied.

All shots are call Pocket shots

Except for the break, the shooter must call the intended object ball and intended pocket before the shot is made. This is a "Gentleman's Call Pocket" game. The shooter is not required to call obvious shots, even if shooting the 8-ball or 10-ball. If the called object ball falls into the called pocket, it is a legal shot even if the object ball unintentionally contacts another ball or a cushion prior to going into the pocket. As a general rule, bank shots and combination shots should be called as they may not be obvious to one's opponent. If an object ball goes into an unintended pocket, the ball stays in the pocket and the shooter's turn is ended. Except where otherwise indicated, 9-ball will be played according to the Rules of the BCAPL.

Legal shot

For a shot to be legal, the cue ball must first strike a legal ball (as determined by the game being played) and, after contact:

    1. A ball must be pocketed, or

    2. Any object ball or the cue ball must strike a cushion.

Also see Split Hits below.


    1. Players in the MASTER DIVISIONS will have one time out per match.

    2. Any player that has not yet played three matches and established a skill level rating may have two time outs per rack.

    3. Players with a skill level of 35 and below may have two time outs per rack

    4. Players with a skill level of 36-59 may have one time out per rack

    5. Players with a skill level rating of 60 and above may have a total of three time outs per match

Time outs should not exceed 90 seconds. A time out may be called by the shooter or anyone on the shooter's team roster and it must be acknowledged by the shooter's opponent. Once a time out is called, the shooter will name the member of his/her team to act as coach and only that coach may confer with the shooter. No other player may offer advice to the shooter or to the coach. The coach may point to and touch the table but may not mark the table or the rail in any way and must not touch the cue ball or an object ball. The coach must leave the table area before the shot is made.


A safety must be called by the shooter prior to making the shot. If a safety is called in 8-ball and a legal object ball falls into a pocket during the safety, the object ball stays in the pocket and the shooter's turn is ended. If a safety is called in 10-ball and an object ball falls into a pocket then the shooter's opponent has the option of returning the shot to the shooter or taking the shot him or herself. Calling a safety in 9-ball (except when shooting the 9 ball) has no effect on the validity of the shot. It affects only the determination of the shot as a "missed shot".

Jump shots and Masses

Jump shots and jump cues are permitted unless otherwise prohibited by the "house rules" of the host establishment. All jump shots must be legal by striking down on the cue ball. "Scooping" the cue ball is illegal and will result in a foul.

Split hits

A split hit occurs when the cue ball strikes both a legal and an illegal object ball at the same time. If the referee (or the shooter in the absence of a referee) can not tell which ball is struck first, it is a legal hit. See this video for how to recognize which ball was hit first in close situations

Unsportsmanlike conduct

The USA Pool League (USAPL) has been designed to provide every player the utmost fun and excitement from their pool league experience. By using the proven "Fairplay" handicap system, the league provides an even playing field for all players. Weekly competition between players of diverse skill levels is fun and fair as they compete for cash, prizes, and a chance to play in post-season events culminating in an exciting National Championship Tournament. Inappropriate and unsportsmanlike behavior will not be tolerated. This behavior includes, but is not limited to actions that are embarrassing, disruptive, or detrimental to other players, spectators, officials, referees or the sport in general. Players may be penalized for such behavior with or without warning. Penalties may include a warning, loss of game, loss of match, suspension from league play or disqualification from future league play.

Ball in hand fouls

If a player commits a foul, his/her opponent will begin their turn with ball in hand anywhere on the table. The following acts are ball in hand fouls:

    1. Failure to complete a legal hit.

    2. Violation of the rules on coaching.

    3. Scratching with the cue ball. This includes not only the situation where the cue ball falls into a pocket, but also when the player accidentally touches or moves the cue ball other than with the tip of the cue in a stroking motion or when the player touches an object ball with his/her hand and is also holding the cue ball.

    4. It is a foul if you cause any ball to be jumped off the table.

    5. It is a foul if you strike the cue ball more than once with the cue. This is known as a double hit and commonly occurs when the cue ball and target object ball are very close together or touching each other. See this video on how to recognize a double hit.

    6. It is a foul if the player shoots while any balls are still in motion from the previous shot. A spinning ball is a ball in motion.

    7. It is a foul if the shooter or his/her coach marks the table or rail in any way to aid in the execution of the shot. This includes placing chaulk on the rail to provide an aiming target for the shooter.

    8. It a foul if the shooter disturbs more than one object ball or a disturbed object ball touches any other ball. The opponent does not have the option to restore the balls to the previously undisturbed position.

Disturbed object ball

It is not a foul if the shooter accidentally touches or disturbs a single object ball with any part of the body, clothing or equipment (Unless the shooter is holding the cue ball, in a ball in hand situation, or the object ball touches another ball after being disturbed). The opponent has the option of leaving the disturbed object ball where it is or restoring it to its previous undisturbed position.

Calling a foul

A foul may only be called by a player playing in a game or a referee (BCAPL Rule 1-23). In Higher Level play (Playoffs and in Nationals) a violation of this rule is itself a foul. See BCAPL rule 1-41. However, during normal weekly league play, a foul called by someone other than a player playing in a game or a referee may result in a Sportsmanship Violation. Repeated intentional violations may result in sanctions including, but not limited to loss of a rack or a match.

Rules suspended or modified for weekly league play

The USA Pool League is, above everything else, a recreational league. While there are plenty of opportunities to compete on the local, regional and national level, the primary purpose of the league is to create an atmosphere of fun and fellowship. In that spirit, there are some rules which, while perhaps appropriate for a regional or national tournament, will be modified or suspended during normal weekly league play.

The following rules will be so modified:

BCAPL rule 1.3

makes it a ball in hand foul for any player to use a cell phone, electronic devise or earpieces of any kind. The purpose of this rule is to avoid unauthorized communication, and presumably coaching, between the player and his or her teammates. This rule is suspended for weekly league play. However, use of a cell phone or electronic device by a player during a match which delays a match could be considered a sportsmanship violation.

BCAPL rule 1.8

makes it a ball in hand foul if the player or any of his or her teammate's practice while a match is in progress. This rule is suspended for weekly league play. Members of a team who are not involved in a match are encouraged to practice and enjoy the evening. Players who are involved in an active match may be committing a sportsmanship violation if their actions unreasonably delay the match.

Adding Teams or Players

    1. To add a team, contact the league operators.

    2. Players may be added to a team roster through the fourth week of a session. After that week, adding a player requires a special exception from the league operators (this will be normally be allowed for teams that have too few players).

Weekly Dues and Score Sheets

Captains of each team are responsible to collect the weekly dues from the players and to send those dues to the League. Score sheets and dues should be forwarded to the league as soon as possible after the match is played. Team standings and individual handicaps cannot be updated unless the score sheets are received in a timely manner:

    1. Score sheets may be sent in by US Mail or e-mail to '' (include the team name and match date in the Subject line of the email). Score sheets sent in by US Mail should be mailed no later than the day following the day the match was played.

    2. Weekly team dues must be received prior to the next weeks scheduled matches.

    3. Teams that send in both score sheets and dues within the stated time frame will receive 100 bonus points. Teams will not receive the 100 point bonus if their dues are received after the divisions next scheduled week of matches.

    4. Teams must be up to date on all weekly dues to qualify for playoffs, wild card selection or any higher level tournament.