based on the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) World Standardized Rules (the “official rules of pool”)

Is a miscue a foul if it results in multiple hits?

A miscue is a bad hit resulting from the cue tip sliding off (and pushing) the CB during tip contact, usually resulting from hitting too far off center (see the maximum spin resource page) or by not chalking properly. With a normal shot, the cue tip grabs the CB, doesn’t slide at all relative to the ball (e.g., see “good hit” video), and separates from the CB almost immediately. Under the current rules (see WPA WSR 6.16c), a miscue is a foul only if it is intentional. Good examples of a typical miscue can be found in the videos below.

The secondary contacts might partially explain the slapping sound you can sometimes hear with a miscue. Normally, multiple hits on the cue ball results in a foul; but in case of a miscue, the multiple hits are not considered a foul under the current rules (unless the miscue is judged as “intentional”). For more information, see “Rules – Part V: miscellaneous fouls” (BD, December, 2009).

One case where a miscue should be called a foul is when secondary contact clearly affects the shot. The following videos demonstrate both unintentional and intentional miscue fouls:

Here is a good example where the miscue might not be “intentional,” but it should be ruled as a foul, because secondary contact is obvious:

As demonstrated in the “Fouls in Pool” video above, an example where a miscue is a foul is an intentional “scoop” jump shot. And another is with the classic tip-lifting double-hit-avoidance technique that was once allowed under older rules where you place the tip under the front edge of the CB and then lift the tip straight up, creating a slight glancing hit on the CB. This is a foul for two reasons. For one, it is not a legal forward stroke into the ball. Secondly, it is an intentional miscue (since the tip is sliding across the CB surface), which is an unsportsmanlike conduct foul:

The current rules require a single, non-prolonged, forward-stroke hit of the tip on the cue ball. All miscues involve the tip sliding along the cue ball (which can be considered “prolonged contact” and a non “single hit”). Miscues involve secondary contact with the tip, ferrule, and/or shaft. A miscue is also the result of either player error or intentional, unsportsmanlike play. Also, the “intention” of the player might not always be obvious (when trying to determine if a miscue is “intentional” or not). However, the current “intention” of the rules is that only intentional and blatantly obvious “secondary contact” should be considered a foul. The shot in HSV B.28 is an example. Another example is where you miscue on a follow shot, and you trap the CB under the cue … this embarrassing and unintentional miscue should also be called a foul, because there is obvious “secondary contact.”

One potential issue with making all miscues fouls is: sometimes a miscue can be “late” or “partial,” where the hit sounds funny and the CB does not quite go in the expected direction with the expected amount of spin. But this type of shot is not very common, and only an obvious miscue would be called as a foul (but this still might require judgement at times).

For more info related to miscues, see:

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