9-ball Rule Book
Object of the Game
Team Tap 9-ball is played with nine object balls numbered 1 through 9 and the cue ball. On any shot the cue ball must contact the lowest numbered ball on the table first to begin a legal shot. Once you have contacted the lowest numbered ball, any completions that follow allow you to continue your turn at the table. On balls numbered 1 thru 8 the shooter does NOT have to call their pocket. A player wins the game when he/she has legally pockets the 9-ball in a called pocket.
Choosing your first player
Games commence with opposing Team Captains or player tossing a coin to determine who will be the first to announce a player. The winner of the coin toss has the option to either choose a player from his or her team, or have the opposing Team Captain or player choose a player from their team to start the first game of the first match. After this has been determined, player selections will be alternated for the following matches until all league matches are completed. A player can represent their team in active play once per night and represent that specific division on only one team per night. A player may only play on one table at a time. Multiple nights and division play are accepted and encouraged.
Lagging For the Break
Once you have selected your players, they must lag to see who breaks. Once two players have been selected, they must simultaneously "lag" for break. The "lag shot" is executed by striking an object ball from behind the head string, to the foot rail, and attempting to have it come to rest closest to the head rail. If your lagging ball is pocketed or contacts a side rail you lose the lag. If the two lagging balls make contact, players must re-lag.
Racking the Balls
The objects balls, numbered 1 through 9, are racked in a diamond shape with the 1-ball on the foot spot and the 9-ball in the center of the diamond. The rack should be tight with all balls touching.
The Break Shot
The player entitled to the break has cue ball-in-hand 100% behind the head string. The breaking player must first drive the cue ball directly into the one-ball, causing at least 4 balls to hit a rail, including the cue ball. Pocketing a ball also constitutes a legal break. If either task has not been accomplished, the opposing player is entitled to ask for a new rack and may elect to break. This is at the non-breaking player’s discretion. An attempt to break resulting in the cue ball crossing the head string, but not hitting the rack, is a foul. The incoming player now has cue ball in hand anywhere on the table. If any balls, other than the 9-ball, are driven off the table during the break shot a foul has occurred, the balls are pocketed and the opponent has cue ball in hand . All objects balls that are pocketed remain down. If the 9-ball is driven off the table a foul has occurred, the opponent has cue ball in hand and the 9-ball is spotted. It is then ball-in-hand for the incoming player anywhere on the table. On a legal break with no fouls committed,
pocketing the 9-ball is a win. (NOTE: For scoring, the breaker gets the number of balls added to his or her score under the "made on break" (MOB) column). Any balls off the table are recorded as Dead Balls.
Cue ball off the table
If a player drives the cue ball off the table (including the break) it is the incoming player’s turn, ball in hand anywhere on the table.
Continuing Play After the Break
If the player pockets a ball on the break, that player continues to shoot until he/she misses, commits a foul or plays defense without pocketing a ball. When this happens, your opponent assumes control of the table and does the same until the 9- ball is legally pocketed. NOTE: If a foul is committed on any shot, the incoming player has cue ball-in-hand anywhere on the table.
"Push out" After a Legal Break
The "push out", also known as "roll out", is allowed one time only on the shot immediately following the break. The player executing this shot must clearly announce their decision to their opponent before shooting or it is treated as a normal shot. Push Outs are recorded as a Defensive shot. To execute this shot you may shoot the cue ball anywhere on the table. The cue ball is not required to contact a rail nor is the shooter required to contact the lowest numbered ball on the table. Any balls pocketed on a push out stay down and count as a Dead Ball on your score sheet, with the exception of the 9-ball, which is spotted. Spotted balls are not counted as completions in this case. Following the push out the opponent has the option to shoot or pass the shot back to the player who executed the push out. (NOTE: Scratching on a push out is a foul). When the push is given back to the player that performed it, it is considered a Defensive shot on the score sheet.
After a legal break or legal push out, the player who has command of the table continues to shoot until they miss, foul or win the game. This is continued until a winner is determined.
Skill Shot/Good Hits
The shooter must make the cue ball contact the lowest numbered ball on the table before any other ball to execute a legal hit. You do not have to call your pocket except for the 9 ball. After that, a ball on the table (any ball) must contact a rail. Pocketing a ball is also a good hit. If the cue ball first strikes any ball other than the lowest numbered ball on the table, or the cue ball is pocketed or a ball fails to hit a rail, it is a "bad hit". A bad hits means a foul has been committed and the opponent comes to the table with cue ball in hand anywhere on the table.
Shooting the 9-ball
In TAP team 9-ball the 9-ball is always the game ball for both players. The 9 ball is the only ball a shooter is required to call, and mark, a pocket for. If the 9-ball is pocketed legally, the game is over, however, if a foul is committed while the 9-ball is pocketed then the 9-ball is spotted and it is ball-in-hand for the incoming player. If the 9-ball is shot into the wrong pocket, it will be spotted and it’s the opponent’s turn playing the cue ball where it rests. The shot is scored as a Miss. Players cannot call out “mark your pocket” to the shooter unless the 9-ball is the only ball on the table. If other balls are in play it will result in a ball in hand foul for the opponent.
To play a defensive (safety) shot, you still must execute a legal shot by hitting the lowest numbered ball on the table first, and drive a ball to the rail. A player must call a defensive (or safety) shot when not attempting to pocket an object ball. The opposing player has the right to ask the scorekeeper to record that shot as a defensive shot. Players must call defense prior to the shot and mark it as a (def) defensive shot. When calling a defensive shot, if you pocket a ball, you must continue shooting. That shot is marked as a COMP on the score sheet. If the 9 Ball is pocketed on a defensive shot, it is spotted and the opponent gets to shoot. Note: Some shots in 9 Ball are made simply to make contact with your object ball because the ball is hidden from a clear shot. In these cases, a Miss should be marked instead of a Defense. Scorekeepers should use good judgment when making this decision.
There is no "Three foul" rule in TAP 9-ball league. A player committing a foul must relinquish his/her turn at the table. The following are examples of commonly occurring fouls.
Scratch/Ball Off the Table
If a player pockets the cue ball or drives the cue ball off the table, it is a foul. If a player executes a shot and then scratches, the shot is considered complete and the ball stays down, unless the 9-ball drops or is driven off the table then it is spotted. Any other ball stays down and ball-in-hand for the incoming player. Any balls driven off the table, with the exception of the 9 ball, are recorded as Dead Balls. NOTE: (Two balls that are stuck in the jaws of the pocket have two outcomes: 1st, if the two balls are below the playing surface and/or not touching the felt they are considered pocketed; 2nd, if the two balls are on the felt and not below the playing surface, they are in play and not pocketed.)
If the cue ball is frozen to the object ball, pushing through the cue ball is a legal hit. If there is separation between the two balls equal to or less than the width of a piece of chalk, the shooter must keep from double hitting the cue ball. To make a legal hit the shooter must either 1) When shooting directly at the two balls elevate the back of the cue in an attempt to put draw on the cue ball, or 2) Shoot at an angle not directly in line with the two balls. As long as an honest attempt at either is made, no foul can be called. If the distance between the two balls is greater than the width of a standard size piece of billiard chalk, a double hit of the cue ball is a ball-in-hand foul. When confronted with this situation, it is strongly recommended that a third party or referee be called to watch the hit to avoid controversy. If a third party is not called, it is the shooting player’s decision. Note: Should the cue ball travel past the object ball, a foul has been committed.
When a player contacts the lowest numbered ball on the table and another ball at the same time, this does not constitute a foul. Simultaneous contact of two balls is a good hit. If it is suspected that a player may play a shot that might result in a "split hit," the non-shooting player should ask that a league official, referee or another player (that is not on either team) observe the shot. In this instance, it would be that individual’s duty to watch, and if necessary, call the hit. In the absence of an observer, should a controversy over the hit arise, the shot goes to the shooter.
Accidental Movement of Balls
If a player moves the cue ball, in any way, prior to their shot it is a foul and results in ball-in-hand to the player’s opponent; this does not apply in ball-in-hand situations when a player is placing the cue ball. If while placing the cue ball, the cue ball, or the hand holding the cue ball, touches another ball a foul has occurred. Should a player accidentally move, or pocket, any other ball(s) in preparing to shoot or in the execution of a shot, it is not a foul (NOTE: Should a player accidentally pocket the 9 ball, it is automatically replaced.) The opposing player has the right to replace the ball(s) or leave them where they are. Should the shooter, by reflex action, attempt to replace the moved ball(s), this is not a foul, but the opposing player has the option of placing the ball(s) back to where they were originally resting or leaving them where they were moved to by the shooter. If a player touches any moving ball, moved as a result of the shot, or the moved ball is struck by another moving ball during the shot, it is a ball-in-hand foul for the opponent. If any moving ball strikes the shooters cue, bridge stick or their person it is a foul and ball in hand for their opponent. NOTE: (If, after missing a shot, a player swings their cue in disgust and hits any balls, it is automatic loss of game.)
Interference and "Sideline" Coaching
Any person, who interferes with the course of the match by offering advice, distracting a player or otherwise disturbing play, can subject their player to a foul. In this instance, the match referee must warn the individual involved and that player’s team captain/coach and player. After the warning, the penalties go as follows. 1st a warning, 2nd ball-in-hand for opponent, 3rd loss of game, 4th loss of match, 5th team disqualified. Penalties do not start over after each match. They continue from first match to last match, for both teams. As a team player on the sideline we encourage you to support your player. However, you are responsible to do so in a sportsmanlike manner.
Payment of League Fees
All teams and individual players are responsible for the payment of league fees. Forfeited matches are no exception. The full amount agreed upon should be paid at the end of play. Any team or player(s) owing any fees can result in that team or player(s) having match points deducted from their standings at any time. This can also result in a player(s) losing the opportunity to participate in an event regardless of the team’s qualification. This also includes annual memberships. There are no league fees due for teams that are on a bye week.
All memberships must be paid before a NEW player shoots their first match. A player may not be added to a roster unless they submit a Membership Application and pay the $20.00 annual membership fee ($25.00 in Canada). Renewing members can look at the weekly stats and see their renewal date. All renewals must be paid in the beginning of the month they are due. Owners are responsible for player’s dues once they shoot a match. A player is responsible for paying the $20 renewal fee the moment they shoot one match in the month of their renewal date. Any points won by a player that is not within good membership standing may be reversed.
A player is allowed to receive coaching from a fellow teammate who has been designated as the coach prior to the start of each match. Only one coach may be designated for each player’s match and may not be changed during that match unless approved by the opposing team. The player or team coach for each team is entitled to call two (2) “time-outs” per game, lasting no more than one-minute each. Once a time out has been called, both players can communicate with their coach during that time out. Players that are a two (2) level handicap, receive two (2) one (1) minute time outs and unlimited assistance with their coach however, the coach cannot approach the table except during an official time out. However the player must still execute their shot within the 45 second shot clock or it will be deemed one of their time outs. If a time out is called or inferred by either the coach or player, a timeout must be taken and the player is still charged with the timeout. If no time outs are available to that player the first offense will be a verbal warning the second offense will be a ball- in-hand foul. The third offense will be a loss of game. The fourth is loss of match.
During a time-out, the coach may not disrupt any balls on the table or mark the playing area of the table. Doing so constitutes a foul and the opponent is entitled to cue ball-in-hand. In a ball in hand situation the coach may not place the cue ball, if he/she does it is a foul and ball in hand to the opponent. The coach may not use a cue stick or any other object other than their hand to line the shot up for their player. The coach must leave the table prior to the execution of the shot. The first offense, should either of these instances happen, is a verbal warning. The second and subsequent is a ball in hand foul.
After the time-out, coaches must cease communication with their players, and the player must execute his or her shot in a timely fashion. (NOTE: An outside player on the team can talk to the coach, who can then relay that information to the player during a present timeout within the time limit. If the (1) minute time limit is exceeded and called by the opposing team, the player can take an additional (1) minute at the cost of another time-out, if they have a time-out remaining. Note: The link to the player is through the coach. No other passages to that player are allowed. Only the Player or Coach can ask the opposing team if they have any time outs remaining. If the coach disrupts the balls, moves the balls, or marks the table in any way, it is ball-in-hand to the player’s opponent. If the coach touches the table it is not a foul. To avoid controversy, the coach should avoid touching the felt.
Speaking Another Language
All conversations during match play involving players, teammates, coaches and spectators are requested to be in English. An exception to this rule can be made should both players competing in the match speak and understand the shared language AND both players must agree that it is acceptable. If one of the players does not agree, regardless if they speak and understand the second language then English shall be the only language spoken. Please consult your local by-laws for penalties of violating this rule. The reason for this rule is to avoid coaching controversy.
While in regular team play your Owner may relax restrictions on conversation between players involved in a match with their teammates. However, when teams are involved in National events or other major tournaments, no conversation will be allowed between shooting players and other members of their team. Only the designated coach can communicate with the shooting player during an official time-out called by either team. Violations of this rule may result in ball-in-hand for the opposing player. It is our suggestion that all teams follow this rule at all times while participating in TAP league play.
It is important for every player in the league to ensure that his or her league match progresses in a timely fashion. A 45-second shot rule exists and will be used as the benchmark for assessing slow play. If a player is taking a significantly long amount of time to execute a shot, the opposing player or coach has the right to ask a league official or the player’s coach to administer a slow play warning. If, after being warned, the player continues to play slowly, the opponent will receive cue ball-in-hand. In all matters concerning slow play, the decision of the League Director or referee will be final. Note: Before confronting the opponents coach, you must actually time the shooter in question with a stopwatch to determine that a violation is occurring. Real time and perceived time are very different. Most of our leagues are played at night and it is important for the matches to be completed in a timely fashion. All players should note that after a match has been completed, a team has five (5) minutes to field another player, or the match may be subject to forfeit). This also stands true when picking your player for the next match. Please do so in a timely manner. A player should be picked and ready to shoot no later than five (5) minutes after each match.
All sports have a time limit and billiards is no exception. In our leagues, there is a 45-second time limit to execute your shot. The time limit commences after your opponent’s shot ends and all the balls
come to rest. If a time-out commences in the middle of your decision making process, the time remaining on the clock is still in use. Note: The 45 second shot clock is a benchmark average. Some shots can take longer depending on the level of difficulty.
A player with a handicap of 3-4-5-6-7 is entitled to two (2) time-outs per game. Each time-out is one (1) minute in duration. A player at a 2-handicap level has two (2) one (1) minute time outs and unlimited coaching within the 45-second time limit. See the section marked “Coaching” for additional information.
Protests and Disputes
In our league the match belongs to the two players at the table. With this comes the responsibility of paying attention to your match whether you or your opponent is on the table. You have the right to protest a situation. Just remember, a protest needs proof in order to be evaluated. If your protest cannot be substantiated with proof, you could lose your match point for a false protest. If you and your opponent are paying attention and sportsmanship/common sense is utilized, there will be no reason for protests or disputes.
Fielding a Team – The “25 Rule”
Team Total Handicap Rules/Criteria (The “25 Rule”) To field a legitimate five (5) player team, the sum total of the shooting player’s handicaps may not exceed twenty-five (25). A team can play their players in any order they choose as long as the “25 Rule” is not violated.
Violation of the “25 Rule” If a Team Captain cannot field a legitimate five (5) player team according to the “25 Rule,” he or she must then field their team accordingly:
Total handicap for four (4) player teams cannot exceed 21 (If your 5 lowest handicaps of players on your roster exceed 25 then you have to play 4 to 21.)
Total handicap for three (3) player teams cannot exceed 18 (If your 4 lowest handicaps of players on your roster exceed 21 then you have to play 3 to 18.)
Failure to Field a Legitimate Team
If a Team Captain cannot field a legitimate team in accordance with the criteria set forth above, they will forfeit ONLY those matches that are in violation of the rule. (NOTE: It is the well rounded team that stays the strongest throughout the league session, so choose your players wisely.) Lower level players play a big part in allowing your higher level player(s) to remain active on your team.
Adding and Dropping Players
No team should have more than eight (8) players on its roster. A team may add a player to its roster at any time during the league session as long as there are enough weeks remaining in the current session for that player to complete the six (6) matches
required to make him/her a legitimate member of that team. Byes and forfeited matches do not apply towards any player’s required matches. Teams competing in events they qualified for during the session are to use their team roster of players from that session. There are no substitutions. When choosing your team, make sure your teammates understand they are expected to complete the session and session events. Note: Deadlines for adding and dropping players may vary in different areas. Be sure to consult your local by- laws for specific rules in your area.
The “Known Player” Rule
A player that is brought into the league that has, or does not have a previous handicap or league experience may be assigned a handicap by the League Director or other league official if his or her skill level is known.
Individuals who hold current membership in a men’s or women’s professional billiards association are not allowed to compete in TAP’s handicapped league events. If an individual’s primary source of income is from competing in pool or the individual attempts to derive their income from pool that person will also be considered a pro. The decision of who meets the above is at the league’s discretion. Although we have all skill levels of players in TAP, we still need to provide a comfortable level of protection for the recreational player. This is where our first concern lies. We also need to protect the prize funds to which our players contribute so that everyone has a fair chance of winning.
Some operators allow make-up matches and some do not. For those teams wishing to make matches up, it is important that the match be noted on your score sheet so that the credit can be applied to the correct team. Also, make-up matches must be agreed upon by both teams and have approval by the League Owner before they are considered official. All make-up matches should be completed within two (2) weeks of the date of the scheduled match. No matches can be made up within the last two weeks of league play. When a new division is starting, the League Owner may offer a new team make-ups or what is referred to as position rounds to allow that team to catch up. (NOTE: All make-ups are at the sole discretion of the League Owner.)
League matches can be forfeited. The following circumstances are some examples:
A scheduled team match does not commence within fifteen (15) minutes of the scheduled match time. Points will be awarded depending on your local by-laws.
A team is unable to field a player whose handicap is appropriate for the given match, as described by the criteria set forth under the “Team Total Handicap Rules/Criteria” clause. If you do not post a player within the required 5 minute time frame, that match can be forfeited.
Un-sportsmanlike conduct can result in a match being forfeited.
A match can be forfeited if the player shooting the match is not current with league fees, or submits wrong data or involves himself in any form of cheating.
A match will be forfeited by both teams if both teams only have 4 players. NOTE: (Check with your League Owner for variations on forfeits.
All forfeits should be properly marked on the score sheets. For a team to claim a forfeit, the team that has the player present will write that player in, the team that is short player(s) will write ‘forfeit’ for their player. The Win / Loss circles are then marked accordingly. All forfeited matches assigned to a player will not count as one of their six (6) required matches. Note: Your league fees for the forfeited match are still due regardless of whether the match was played or not.
It is impossible to document all cases where forfeitures may apply. We recommend that you stay within the guidelines of the rules and play within the spirit and intent of the rules as good sportsmen should. Note: There will always be players who, for whatever reason, try to test the system and manipulate the rules to their advantage. League Owners and officials easily come to recognize these people, and will take the appropriate steps necessary to control their behavior. These teams or players may be disbanded from the league or tournaments at any time.
Burnout Strategy: For Play-offs & Upper-Level Play Only
This is not a rule, but a strategy within rules. It is only necessary and used when a team is short players. The strategy is to put up one of your players that are not present in order to burn out one of the opponent’s players. You may also wait for them to put up a player that your team does not want to play and burn that player. Ex. Team A puts up a 6 and Team B puts up a player that is not present for the match. This results in a forfeit (win) for that match for Team A. Regardless of whether a player is present or not, the team must always adhere to the “25 Rule”.
Concession consists of:
1) A player breaking down their playing cue into two pieces except to change shafts. (A player must notify their opponent if they plan to change shafts.) Breaking down your break cue after the last game of the match has been broken is not loss of game.
2) The player intentionally rakes the balls on the table before the game is complete.
3) The opponent picks up the rack in an attempt to re-rack before the opponent has taken their last shot.
4) The opponent offers to shake hands before the 9-Ball is shot.
5) Putting your hand in the pocket as to catch the cue ball from scratching on the 9-Ball.
In some leagues, there will be an uneven number of teams competing during a league session. When this happens, a BYE will be written into the schedule to even out the schedule. On a night when a team is scheduled to receive a “BYE,” they will be credited three (3) points for that match. In the event of a team dropping out of a session, the BYE will come in the next week of play or the existing Bye will be eliminated. Teams, dropping out of a session, are uncontrollable and can happen. When it does, it creates a problem for the teams scheduled to play. This is out of our control as a league. We hope you will do your best as a team to complete your session.
League handicaps are based on raw data taken from your score sheets for each league match. Complete, clear and accurately marked score sheets are a must. Players, Team Captains, League Representatives, League Directors or Operators do not have the right to change any data on the official roster. There is always the possibility that an error has been made when posting data. If this seems to be in question, the matter should be called to the attention of the League Owner, who will be responsible for addressing the matter. If you question your League Owner’s response, please feel free to contact the corporate office through our website @ www.tapleague.com, or call our toll-free number, 1-800-984-7665.
Falsifying a roster is a serious issue that will be addressed.
A player joining the league who has not had a previously established handicap will play a “Race to 3” and will be counted as a “4” for purposes of the “25 Rule”. NOTE: (Owners may choose to set a “standard’ handicap for all unrated players. Captains should call their League Owner for clarification).
Under the Known Player Rule, any player with an established handicap from any other Pool system will start at a comparable TAP handicap determined by the League Director and will shoot under the handicapped race grid. If a player is joining an 8-Ball team and has an established TAP 9-Ball rating, they will start in 8-Ball at that rating or vice-verse.
When a player with an established handicap plays a new player, his or her established handicap will be counted towards the “25 Rule.” After this match, the new player’s handicap will be subject to the same criteria as all other players, and will be evaluated based on his or her performance in subsequent league matches Note: The handicapping formula developed by TAP is copyrighted, and as such, is proprietary property belonging to TAP. While players are entitled to an explanation of how the system works, under no circumstances will they be provided with documentation of TAP’s proprietary computer algorithms) Our handicaps range from two (2) through seven (7). A seven (7) handicap is the highest level.