What Is A Scratch In Pool?

Many people who have recently become pool fans are unsure what the term “scratch” means in the game. These types of people keep asking What Is A Scratch In Pool? and today, we will be giving the needed answers. 

But first, you must understand that in pool, scratch is simple and at the same time complex. However, in the most basic sense, the word “scratch” is used in describing a foul ball. 

In pool, a scratch occurs when a player’s cue ball collides with another object ball before or after it has moved entirely across the table. The opponent gains an advantage from a scratch because it helps them to position the second object ball for a better shot.

Scratch – Definition

Are you asking What Is A Scratch In Pool? Well, a scratch is said to happen when the ball is hit in a way considered to be illegal under the traditional rules of pool. Interestingly, this can take place in different ways. 

Even in the professional games, there are players who have scratched during the game. However, if you are interested in getting better at your pool game, then you need to learn everything possible about scratch rules. 

While it is referred to as “foul,” it goes way deeper than that. Before we proceed, have it in mind that in a game of billiard, scratching can be referred to as a scrape on the table top of the game. 

But that is not always the case. A “scratch” in billiards is a vast range of foul regulations that can either cost the player his or her tournament or offer the competitor a bigger advantage. 

Your opponent may pick up the object ball in a single grip and position their stroke correctly. Nevertheless, this will take place if a person loses their stroke and the cue ball falls through a pit or is driven off the board. 

Meanwhile, if a player makes the legal shot on an eight ball and not that same ball, they may lose the whole game. Such a foul can occur if the cue ball is paralleled, accompanied, or even preceded by a target ball. 

A scratch is deemed applicable if the user positions lots of target balls before they hit any pocket that has your cue ball. 

More so, you can scratch your billiard game without having to push the ball off the table top or placing it in a pocket in a totally different scenario. 

Interestingly, if one of the openings gets packed by a target ball and the cue ball gets to strike that same location, a scratch can happen. When the object ball lands in the hole that is not packed, it will be tagged as a scratch. 

If any of these scenarios occurs, your opponent will gain a significant advantage in the match and be able to win the game with a single move.

Types of Scratch

In learning What Is A Scratch In Pool? it is vital that you know the different types of scratch that exist in the game, so you do not break scratch rules. In all games, there are official rules that govern them, and a pool game is no different. Before knowing scratch you should know also Billiards Shooting Tips.

The types of scratch are:

1. Table Scratch

The table scratch occurs when a person fails to strike any target ball while using the cue ball. In other news, the table scratch is regarded as a standard foul that will not get any ball knocked off the table or pocketed. 

It happens when the game starts and the player misses a shot using the cue ball. It can also happen when a shot does not get successfully pocketed or does not contact the cushion on the pool table. 

In a table scratch, the opponent ends up getting a ball in hand and it gives them a huge advantage when they take the next shot. But due to different rules, some say that the first ball in hand will need to be positioned behind the head string.

For some other rules, they say it can be positioned anywhere on the table and not just behind the head string. Understand that table scratch is used to refer to diverse common violations. The foul lists for a table scratch include: 

Failure to make contact with the cushion or pocket

A player scratches when he fails to hit the object ball into a cushion or pocket. In order to make it a valid stroke, the player will need to contact the cue ball as it will impact the targeted billiard ball. 

Then, the targeted ball will move to one of the pockets or cushions. If it does not do any of the mentioned rules, it is tagged a table scratch.   

Failure to strike an object

When a player misses striking the target ball when using the cue ball, table scratches occur. But, when the cue ball hits any of the cushions and makes no connection with the object balls, it is simply called a violation. 

 2. The Gameplay Scratch

The gameplay scratch is also known as a “general scratch.” It takes place when your opponent gets an immediate ball in hand. But for some rule variations, your opponent will have to shoot from the position behind the head string. 

Note that scratch rules are made in order to prevent players from scratching intentionally when playing the game. So, when the cue ball is sent flying off the table or you pocket it, it is a scratch and you immediately lose. 

Furthermore, if your cue ball touches the surface of the target ball in a full pocket, a scratch occurs. The person who does this will miss their turn while the opposition player freely positions and strikes the cue ball from any location on the board. 

3. The Break Scratch

While the break scratch is uncommon, it does occur. When you scratch, your opponent immediately gets a ball in hand. But balls that get pocketed during this shot will stay pocketed. 

For some other break scratch rules, the break scratch will be termed an automatic forfeit. To avoid the break scratch, something that can help is the breaking cue. 

So, in other news, the pocketed balls remain pocketed when a player scratches in the breakaway. As for the offender, he or she fails their turn while the other player or opponent strikes from wherever they like, just behind the head string. 

Note that the ball will stay confined to any target ball on different ends of the head string, though this does not include the eight ball.

Lets watch the Video Common Scratch Shots In Pool How To Avoid Them

All About The Eight Ball Scratch.

As we learn What Is A Scratch In Pool? and the different types of scratches, the eight ball scratch cannot be ignored. For certain reasons, an eight-ball scratch occurs when

  • A game is considered lost and the rack won when the cue ball is pocketed before or after the eight ball
  • When a player pockets the eight ball with the similar shot being the final one in the set
  • The player will receive a bonus when he pockets an eight ball and the cue ball in a single shot
  • The game ends when the player positions the eight ball in a hole that is not the one they named

Different Scratches And Their Different Rules

Now that you know What Is A Scratch In Pool? and the different types involved, it is best to know the rules linked to the different scratches as they differ greatly. 

Note that two groups of players that are shooting pool on their adjacent tables can play by totally different rules and even same rules. This is why it is best to agree on some common rules before the game begins, ensuring every player is on the same page. 

Some of the rules according to the different types of scratches are: 

• The rules in break scratch 

When a player scratches on a break, there is only one result of this foul. And it is that the opponent will get the cue ball in hand while behind the head string. If any object balls were pocketed when the break occurred, they stay pocketed and the table stays open. 

In some unofficial circles, this break is an automatic loss, though it is rare in professional pool.   

• The rules in gameplay scratch 

When the player pockets the cue ball, two outcomes result from this foul. The first outcome is a ball in hand anywhere on the pool table. The opponent will place their ball anywhere and take their shot. 

The other outcome is that the opponent will shoot from anywhere behind the head string. Now, the shooter is allowed to aim at object balls that are positioned directly on the head string or opposite the head string. 

If there are no object balls available here, they will have to bounce the cue ball off the cushion at the opposite end of the table before it legally contacts the object ball in the kitchen. However, this rule varies in professional tournaments. 

Another rule here that is not quite popular is that the shot will be taken from the side of the table where it was scratched. So, if the cue ball was pocketed at the head of the table, the shot would get taken from behind the head string. 

And, if the cue ball sinks at the foot of your table, the shot will get taken behind the foot spot. Meanwhile, if a player pots the cue ball in the side pocket, the opponent can position the ball anywhere. 

Note that these rules are not used in those major professional tournaments. 

• The rules in table scratch 

Since table scratch is quite unpopular, their rules are the same as pocketed cue ball scratches. Depending on the rules of the game you are playing, two outcomes will occur after the table scratches. 

The first outcome is the ball in hand behind the head string, while the second is the ball in hand anywhere on the table. Irrespective of which one you select, the rules are the same for pocket and table scratches. 

• The rules in 8-ball scratch 

In most versions of eight ball pool, scratching is seen as a foul when you shoot at object balls and not the eight ball. When you scratch on the 8-ball shot, you will forfeit the game to your opponent. 

However, it is considered a loss only when the eight ball is no longer in play. So, if the player pockets the eight ball and cue ball in the same shot, the player will forfeit the game. 

If they only pocket the cue ball and the 8 ball remains, it is tagged a ball in hand foul but the game continues. When a player knows the eight ball is off the table at any point, he or she forfeits the game. 

Does Anything Happen When You Scratch and After You Scratch? 

When you understand what a scratch is in pool, you must also be made aware that the rules tend to change greatly. However, the change is dependent on whether you are playing eight ball or nine ball. 

It also depends on whether or not you made a scratch on the breakaway. When the scratch happens in a nine-ball or eight-ball game, and once players have chosen stripes or solids, the person who did not make a scratch will be given a ball in hand. 

A player may place their cue ball wherever they want on the billiard table as long as they hold the ball in their hands. More so, a player can decide to place and even move the cue ball until the final moment they make their move. 

After the scratch happens, the cue ball can be positioned anywhere on the table. Then, the opponent is allowed to choose whether to take the next shot or allow the other player to retake their shot. 

For the player that retakes their shot, they are free to position the cue ball anywhere. But, if the opponent decides to take the next shot, they can position the cue ball wherever they like, except in the kitchen. 

As you position the cue ball, it is vital to ensure it does not touch other balls like the object ball and all other balls on the pool table. 

Immediately after the cue ball is positioned, the opponent is free to take the shot. When the player scratches once more, they forfeit the game. 

Ways to Avoid Scratches

There are some ways to avoid making a scratch when you play pool. Some of the tips that will boost your chances of winning are: 

 1.Utilize slow technique shots.

The slow technique shots are frequently used to avoid scratches as they enable the player to control their cue ball and stop it from getting into a pocket. 

If you want to execute the slow technique shot, you are to aim for the middle of the cue ball with your cue stick. Then, hit it with a gentle yet firm stroke. The cue ball can be jumped if you use this technique. 

It is advisable that you practice this technique before playing the real deal, as it is pretty difficult to make happen. 

2.Make a mark on your cue ball.

As you rack the balls, make use of a marker to designate your cue ball, as it will assist you in monitoring the exact cue ball and, ultimately, you will avoid making any scratches.You can also buy billiard Training ball for better practice .

The aim of marking is to avoid making a mistake as you play in the pool halls. Your cue ball can be made with a sticker, chalk, or white board marker.

3.Get down in position at the pool table.

As one of the most vital tips you will find here today, read carefully so you can avoid scratching. Make sure you’re in a stable but comfortable position when you take the shot.

It is critical that you keep your head down and a firm grip on the cue to avoid any sharp or sudden movements.

Once again, practice this shot before you get to the pool halls because it is hard to do. 


Will I lose my game by scratching? 

Yes. You will end up losing your turn when you scratch in a game of pool. And your opponent will take the shot. 

What happens if I make contact with the object ball with my cue ball?

Well, when this happens, it is considered a foul, which, of course, means a scratch in the game. 

Will scratching on the 8 ball cause me to lose my game?

When you shoot the 8 ball, it is not scratching if the 8 ball does not jump from the table or gets pocketed while on the same shot. 

Final Word

For those who have been wondering What Is A Scratch In Pool? We have provided you with every detail you need to know. Make sure to read through so you don’t make any scratching errors while playing.

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