Can You Shoot Backwards in Pool?

Pool rules are notoriously complex, which can make a casual game of pool challenging for beginners. This challenge is one of the reasons for house rules, but in a way, this only adds to the complexity because everyone seems to play by different rules. Whether backward shots are allowed is one rule that is often debated.

Can you shoot backwards in pool? Some house rules (Bar Rules) require that upon a scratch, the cue ball must be shot from the kitchen in the Direction of the Break, which would require a forward shot. During normal League (APA/BCA/etc.) play, there is no concept of forward or backward, but when a ball is fouled, your opponent would be able to place the cue ball on the table anywhere they want and take a shot.

Are you still confused? Not a problem. In this post, we are diving into what a backward shot is so that you are prepared the next time you’re at the pool table.

What is a Backwards Shot in Pool?

When playing pool, there is no forward or backward. Forward is essentially whatever direction your cue is pointing when making the shot. This means that during normal play, there is no such thing as a backward shot.

But there are some instances when the concepts of backward and forward become important in pool:

  • Shooting from behind the string: When a cue ball is behind the string (or in the kitchen), it must move past the string before hitting any object balls or cushion. This effectively means that you must shoot the ball forward to avoid a foul.
  • Ball in hand: When placing the cue ball, you can move it around several times before taking your shot. You can move the ball with your hand or any part of your cue, but if you strike the ball in a forward motion, even unintentionally, you will have made your shot for better or worse.
  • House rules: It’s no secret that the pool you play at a bar, your buddy’s basement, or even a local pool hall doesn’t always follow the same set of rules that professionals follow. Often house rules require that when the cue ball is in hand, it must be shot from behind the string. In this case, the normal rules for shooting from behind the string are in place.

If you want to know what the official rules of pool are, you should check out the Billiard Congress of America’s website, which lists them in detail. For more information about the rules of pool, check out our posts, What happens when the 8-ball goes in on the break? and What Happens When a Pool Ball goes off the Table?

What is the Backwards Cut Shot?

By the name, you might think that a backward cut shot is a backward shot, but this isn’t the case. A backward cut shot is simply a type of cut shot where the pocket you intend to put the ball in is not visible while you’re taking the shot.

As you can imagine, these are some of the hardest shots to make, but they aren’t actually “backward” in the traditional sense.

What about a Behind the Back Shot?

Some might consider a behind the back shot to be “backward,” and in a way, it is. Your whole shot set up is flipped!

These shots are possible and legal in most pool games, but house rules may forbid them. They require leaning or sitting on the rail of the pool table, which isn’t good for the table. Also, they are mostly seen as unnecessarily showy and not the most effective way to approach a hard to reach shot. So, what you think might make you look like a hotshot, actually pins you a newbie.

Is it Legal to Shoot Backwards in Pool?

As long as the cue ball isn’t in the string, you can shoot the ball in any direction you’d like. Just keep in mind all the requirements of a fair shot and direction won’t matter.

However, keep in mind that house rules differ. These rules are usually posted, and you should check with them before starting a game. If they aren’t posted, you can always set the rules with your opponent before starting the game.


Benny is the owner of Supreme Billiards and has been shooting pool and teaching people how to shoot pool for a few years now. He enjoys showing new players techniques and drills to improve their pool game.

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