What Happens When a Pool Ball goes off the Table? (Pictures included)

Have you ever witnessed a pool table fly off the table? It’s in that moment you wonder “Now what happens?”.

What happens when a pool table goes off the table? The pool ball is placed at the ‘Foot Spot’. The ‘Foot Spot’ is the top ball of where you initially racked all the balls before breaking.

The Foot Spot can also be described as the center of where the two diamonds meet from the foot rail. See below:

Imagine racking all the balls and the 1 Yellow Ball was at the very top. This is where the ball that went off the table, would be spotted.

If 2 balls go flying off the table, you simply place the 2nd ball behind the 1st ball. You want to make sure they are “frozen” too. This means they are touching each other when placed on the table.

Here the “2-Ball” was the 2nd ball that flew off the table and has been spotted

If there are balls where the Foot Spot is, just try to get as close as possible to that original spot.

Does the shooter continue shooting? Is it considered a ‘Foul’ now? The rules begin to differ depending on where you’re playing and in which format you’re playing. Are you playing in a bar with some friends? Maybe, you’re playing in a league format like APA or BCA. Keep reading to find out what happens in each scenario.

What Happens Next after a Pool Ball Goes Flying

If you are playing by ‘bar rules‘, then after you spot the ball back to the foot spot, your turn is over and it’s your opponents turn. Pretty simple right?

Bar Rules: A form of unwritten rules that a majority of casual pool players will abide by in a bar. It is not the same as formatted league rules like APA or BCA.

If you are playing by ‘APA‘ rules, which is the most played pool league format, it’s similar to how we described earlier, with a few more caveats.

Object balls that get knocked off the playing surface will be immediately spotted on the foot spot. If the foot spot is taken, the ball will be placed on a line directly behind the foot spot as close to the foot spot as possible. If two balls are knocked on the floor, they are placed in numerical order with the lowest numbered ball closest to the foot spot. Spotted balls will be frozen to one another. Knocking an object ball on the floor is not a foul. It might occur that a player legally pockets a ball while simultaneously knocking some other ball(s) on the floor. In this situation, the ball(s) is spotted and the player continues shooting until he misses.

Cited from poolplayers.com

If you are playing by ‘BCA‘ rules, they state:

8. OBJECT BALLS JUMPED OFF THE TABLE ON THE BREAK. If a player jumps an object ball off the table on the break shot, it is a foul and the incoming player has the option of 1, accepting the table in position and shooting, or 2, taking cue ball in hand behind the head string and shooting.

Cited from Billiards.com

What Happens if the Cue Ball (White Ball) Goes Off The Table?

If your cue ball goes off the table during game play, then it is a foul and your opponent gets to place the cue ball anywhere behind the Foot Spot. This is usually how it’s played for bar rules. FYI – you cannot shoot in the opposite direction. You can only shoot towards the ‘Head Spot‘ which is demonstrated below in the image:

APA and BCA does things a little differently, they describe it as “Ball in Hand“. This means you can place the ball anywhere on the table. Many non-league players consider this a bit like cheating because it feels like an unfair advantage, but it is very common in leagues, tournaments, and other competitive pool formats.

What Happens if the Cue Ball Goes in During a Break?

If you scratch on the break, then that is considered a foul and your turn is over. If you are playing ‘bar rules’, then your opponent has to put the white ball behind the 2nd dot (in the ‘Kitchen’) and shoot any ball they want.

The caveat is that they can only shoot in the direction of the break. So you can’t shoot the other direction. If you play league, then in APA it is similar rules. If you play in BCA leagues, then you get ball in hand, which means you can place the cue ball anywhere on the table without restrictions.

Related Questions

Do you lose if you scratch on the 8-ball? Yes, if you scratch on the 8-ball, in most cases, you lose. This is the same for bar rules and APA rules. The only time this doesn’t result in a loss is if you play in BCA format.

How do you choose who breaks first in pool? You can flip a coin or lag. Lagging means both players pick a random ball and shoot towards the Head Spot. Whoever gets closest to the short rail (the short rail near the Foot Spot) wins, and gets to break first.

Are Billiards and Pool the same thing? Pool is a type of Billiards. Billiards has different 3 major categories: Pool, Carom, and Snookers. Pool is just one flavor of Billiards. Different types of ‘Pool’ games include 8 ball and 9 ball.

How do you rack in 8-ball? You put the 8 ball in the middle, and a stripe and solid ball in the bottom two other corners. The rest of the balls don’t matter, not even the first ball which most players choose the 1-ball for.

How do you rack in 9-ball? You put the 9-ball in the middle, the 1-ball in the very top front, and the rest of the balls don’t matter. It is common for some leagues to require that you put the 2-ball opposite of the 1-ball at the bottom.


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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