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IBA Official Rules

Nine-ball (9-ball) is played with nine object balls numbered one through nine and a cue ball. On each shot, the first ball the cue ball contacts must be the lowest numbered ball on the table, but the balls need not be pocketed in order. If a shooter pockets any ball on a legal shot, they remain at the table for another shot, and continues until missing, committing a foul, or winning the game by legally pocketing the 9-ball. After a shooter misses, the incoming shooter must shoot from the position on the table left by the previous shooter, but after any foul the incoming shooter may start with cue ball in hand anywhere on the table. A match ends when one of the shooters has won the required number of games.

The object balls (1-ball through 9-ball) are to be racked as tightly as possible in a diamond shape, with the 1-ball at the apex of the diamond and on the foot spot, and the 9-ball in the center of the diamond. All other balls should be placed in random order.

9-Ball Rack Diagram

If, after the balls have been racked, all balls in the rack are not in contact with one another, also known as a "loose rack", the shooter who is to break may request a re-rack, at which time the opposing shooter is to re-rack the balls so that all balls in the rack are properly contacting one another, also known as a "tight rack"

Note:The condition of the felt often makes it impossible to perfectly satisfy the rules above. In this case, accept the best rack possible. The breaker’s opponent normally racks the balls, but the opponent may designate anyone they wish to rack as long as it is not themselves. IBA leagues are not “a rack your own” league. Players must rack for their opponents.

  1. The breaker must break with the base of the cue ball behind the head string.
  2. The breaker must strike the 1-ball first and either pocket a ball or drive at least four (4) numbered balls to the cushion. If a shooter fails to meet one of these two requirements the balls are to be re-racked and the breaker gets to break again unless playing Masters, in which case it’s the incoming shooters break with cue ball in hand behind the head string.
  3. If the breaking shooter miscues and the cue ball does not make contact with the racked balls or the breaking shooter interferes with the cue ball at any time before making contact with the racked balls, it is a foul. The incoming shooter takes over the break with cue ball in hand behind the head string.
  4. If the cue ball is pocketed, driven off the table or interfered with, it is a foul. The incoming shooter has cue ball in hand anywhere on the table.
  5. If, on the break shot, the shooter causes an object ball to jump off the table, it is a foul and the incoming shooter has cue ball in hand anywhere on the table. The object ball is not re-spotted (exception: if the object ball is the 9-ball, it is to be placed on the spot).
  6. Pocketing the 9-ball on the break is a win for the breaker assuming all requirements of a legal break shot are met during the shot.
  7. The break must be a hard stroke. Intentional soft breaking is not allowed, even if four balls have contacted a rail. Intentional soft breaking is a violation of sportsmanship rules.

Note: In the event a shooter places the base of the cue ball over the head string the opposing shooter must call it before the break shot is made, not after. If the shooter performing the break shot, during their stroke, completely misses and makes no contact with the cue-ball (basically a "swing and a miss"), this is not considered a foul and the shooter may try the break shot again.

If the shooter performing the break shot, during their stroke, completely misses and makes no contact with the cue-ball (basically a "swing and a miss"), this is not considered a foul and the shooter may try the break shot again.

If the breaker pockets one or more balls on a legal break, they continue to shoot in rotation until they miss, foul, or win the game. If the shooter misses or fouls, the other shooter begins their turn at the table and shoots in rotation until missing, committing a foul, or winning. The game ends when the 9-ball is pocketed on a legal shot, or the game is forfeited for an infraction of the rules.

PUSH OUT - The shooter, who shoots the shot immediately after a legal break, may play a push out in an attempt to move the cue ball into a better position for the option that follows. On a push out, the cue ball is not required to contact any object ball nor any cushion, however, all other foul rules still apply. The shooter must announce their intention of playing a push out before the shot, or the shot is considered to be a normal shot. Any ball pocketed on a push out does not count and remains pocketed except for the 9-ball. Following a legal push out, the incoming shooter is permitted to shoot from that position or return the shot to the shooter that pushed out. A push out is not considered to be a foul as long as no other rule is violated. An illegal push out is penalized according to the type of foul committed. After a shooter scratches on the break shot, the incoming shooter cannot play a push out.

Note: Should the shooter who is playing the push out pocket the 9-ball, the 9-ball is to be spotted, the cue ball remains in the current position on the table, and the incoming shooter is permitted to shoot from that position or return the shot to the shooter that pushed out.

THREE FOUL RULE - There is no three foul rule in IBA 9-ball.

Shooters are not required to call their pocket when shooting with the exception of the 9-ball. Shooters must announce to their opponent or opposing team which pocket they plan to shoot the 9-ball into. Calling a pocket is done by either, verbally announcing the designated pocket to the opponent or any shooter on the opposing team, or by pointing at the pocket with your hand or pool cue. The shooter does not need to call number of cushions, banks, kisses, or caroms.

  1. If the shooter pockets the 9-ball in the designated pocket it is considered a win.
  2. If the shooter pockets the 9-ball in any pocket other than the designated pocket, the 9-ball is placed on the spot and the incoming shooter shoots from where the cue ball lies. (Refer to Pocket Patch - Section 1.6)
  3. If the 9-ball is the lowest number ball on the table and the shooter does not announce to the opponent or opposing team which pocket they plan to shoot the 9-ball into, then proceeds to pocket the 9-ball, the 9-ball is placed on the spot and the incoming shooter has cue ball where it lies.
  4. If the shooter pockets any other ball while attempting to pocket the 9-ball, the shooter continues their turn at the table as long as

    1. A legal shot was made
    2. A ball other than the 9-ball was pocketed

  5. If the shooter, accidentally pockets the 9-ball, while shooting another ball on the table, and did not call the 9-ball, the 9-ball is to be placed on the foot spot from where the break took place and the shooter is to continue shooting as long as a legal shot was made and a ball other than the 9-ball was pocketed

Race To Points - Game winner receives 9 points for legally pocketing the 9-ball and 1 point for each ball they pocketed and the opposing player receives one point for every ball they pocketed.

Race To Games – Game winner receives 17 points for legally pocketing the 9-ball and the opposing player receives 0 points for the loss.

Round Robin - Game winner receives 9 points for legally pocketing the 9-ball and 1 point for each ball they pocketed and the opposing player receives 1 point for every ball they pocketed.

Note: Neither player has earned any points for a game until that game ends.

The game ends at the end of a legal shot which pockets the 9-ball, or when a shooter forfeits the game as the result of a foul.