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Pool Etiquette 101- By: Emily Duddy

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

Pool Etiquette 101

Any activity where people are competing for money, ranking or pride should carry a certain etiquette with it and billiards is no exception. After playing this game my whole life I’ve seen a lot of annoying & disrespectful behavior; however, I believe most of it came from a lack of knowing that the action is not ideal. I would like to help teach people the basics of pool etiquette to make the pool world a more enjoyable environment for all. Here is Pool Etiquette 101, cheers!

Sit Down While Your Opponent Is at the Table

One of the most annoying & amatuer moves when playing pool, is someone who hovers over the table while you are shooting! Please make sure to give your opponent the respect they deserve & sit down, if you can not sit down move as far out of the space of the table as possible. Also try to stay out of the direct line of your opponent’s shot, if I find myself in their line of sight I either move immediately or stay as still as possible.

Place the Chalk with the Dirty Side UP or Take Your Own With You

The simple fact is that when you put the chalk dirty side down it leaves a residue on the table, then when we shoot pool we lean on the rails & the chalk can get on our clothes. When I first started playing in bars & in amateur tournaments, this habit would drive me crazy. I would find myself flipping the chalk up or cleaning the table a lot. When I moved to playing in professional events it would happen very little.

Then I competed in my first overseas event in the 2011 World 10 Ball Championships in Manila, Philippines. I noticed that the top players in the world took chalk etiquette to another level by using their own & keeping it with them. I felt like a rookie using the masters chalk provided & leaving it on the table. Once I got back to the states I started using my own chalk & trained myself to take it with me, it was surprisingly a great feeling. I encourage you to try it! My favorite chalk brands are Kamui & Taom. An added bonus in the days of Covid is no germ sharing on YOUR piece of chalk. If creating the habit of using your own is a little too much, at least pay attention to putting the right side up. 👍

Stay off of The Phone

First & foremost you should stay off your phone when playing pool because it will help you play better. Pool takes a ton of attention to do well & when you use your phone it steals some of that focus away from your game. Personally I make sure to turn my phone completely off when I am training, playing another person, & especially during any level of competition. Taking a break from your device is a healthy thing to do & pool is a great excuse to do it!

Secondly, you should respect your opponent by staying off your phone except on a break or in case of emergency. Their time & energy is just as valuable as yours & being on your phone while playing them is down right rude. In my opinion all tournaments should have a no phone policy during matches, but maybe even if they don’t we could all try to be more courteous to other people & choose not to do it. These days we all have phones & if everyone is on them during events we would never finish the tournament!

Anger Management: Breaking Cues & Hitting Balls off the Table

In my decades of playing pool I am genuinely shocked by how many balls I have seen hit off the table & how FEW people I’ve seen hit with one. With that said, everyone should pay attention when in a pool hall in case they need to dodge a super hard pool ball. More often than not balls fly off the table by accident while shooting, but unfortunately I have many balls hit off a table in the throws of anger after a mistake or a loss. I have also seen a dozen pool cues snapped in half over a knee or hit on a pool table. In my opinion emotional control is a very important aspect in pool, as well as life. When a player loses their temper in a fit of rage it is childish, makes everyone uncomfortable & dangerous. We are all competitors, we all hate to make a mistake, & we are all angry when we lose. Some days you might be more upset then others & I personally know the feeling of walking out to my car after a bad match & letting it out. I encourage you to make it to your car, take a walk after a loss or at the very least go into a bathroom stall instead of lashing out in public. Your reputation as a hot head will stick quickly & take a long time for people to forget. Here is a great article about anger management: Conflict & Anger Management. If you know anger can be an issue for you, the best course of action is being proactive.

Spectators PLEASE Be Aware of Your Volume

As a competitor one of the most distracting things during an event is a couple of spectators sitting close to my table & having a loud conversation, oftentimes about my match! Most of the time this is an innocent action with people just communicating with each other, but it can be very annoying when it’s so close to where you are playing. To clarify, I am not talking about an event at a noisy & crowded pool hall, in that case loud conversations are part of the territory. I am referring to the arena seating at a professional event where the focus of spectators should be on the players competing at a high level in front of them. Especially when you are in the close VIP seating area, please just hold your conversation for when there is not an active match close by or for the restaurant/bar later! Consider the players you are watching probably have hundreds if not thousands of dollars invested in that competition, not to mention years of playing practice & potential ranking on the line. I thank you in advance for this consideration!

Shake Your Opponent's Hand or During Covid Verbalize Respect After a Match

The etiquette of shaking your opponent's hand at the end of a match, win or lose, is a must. Now during Covid I think it’s acceptable to say something like “Good match”. Whether it’s a single game at a bar, a league match or tournament, concluding a competitive pool situation with showing respect to your opponent is universally good etiquette in games & sports.

As always thank you for reading 😊 & wishing you all the best during these challenging times!

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