How can you tell if one ball is hit before another for a close-call legal hit?

The following video provides a good overview:

Also see “Rules – Part IV: Which ball did you hit first?” (BD, November, 2009) and:

Also, for many example calls along with explanations, see:

Here’s a great shot example by Efren Reyes against Keith McCready where the call is difficult. It is impossible to tell from the video whether that was a good hit or not (i.e., it is a “split hit”). One possibility is that the CB just barely feathered the 5 and then hit the 3 and then the 5 again. A shot very similar to this scenario can be found at the 1:52 point in NV B.54 – How to determine which ball was hit first by watching the object balls, with Bob Jewett. Another possibility that the CB barely missed the 5 on the way to the 3 and then came off the 3 to hit the 5. The two possibilities would result in the same or very nearly the same action of all three balls. In situations like this, where it is too close to call, the benefit of the doubt goes to the shooter.

Here’s an interesting proposition shot dramatically showing radically difference results depending on which ball is hit first:


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