Section 2 Rule 12
(a) A nominated ball is the object ball which the striker declares, or indicates to the satisfaction of the referee, as the one to be struck with the first impact of the cue-ball.
(b) If requested by the referee, the striker must declare which ball this is.
This rule deals with nominating a ball, which always means a coloured ball after potting a red, or a ball of the strikers’ choice after being awarded a free ball. It is never necessary to nominate a red. It is also unnecessary to nominate the colours during the final sequence when no reds are left and a stroke has been played, or a foul committed, after potting the last one.
The rule states that the striker must declare, OR indicate to the satisfaction of the referee which ball it is intended that the cue ball will hit with first impact.
Of course the striker may declare before every stroke made at a colour but this is not really necessary.
There are two ways to indicate which ball a striker intends to hit.
1. By stating it verbally (declaring)
2. By cueing in the obvious direction of an isolated ball on.
The striker can also point to the intended target with a finger or cue, but this is not advisable even though there is no rule against it, as the possibility of fouling is increased with such an action. If, however, a person has a disability, e.g. a speech impediment due to deafness which can make pointing the only option available, it then becomes not just an option but a necessity and is certainly allowed. If a ball on is in a clear area of the table and the striker is cueing in its direction this is taken to mean that that particular ball is the one nominated and the referee will not ask for a declaration. Nor should it be necessary if the referee is in the correct position.
If there is the slightest possibility in the mind of the striker that the referee could misconstrue their intention, it is advised to declare.
If there is the slightest doubt in the mind of the referee, the declaration MUST be asked for and the striker MUST comply, as demanded by the second clause of this rule.
A nomination is not always a verbal indication but a declaration is.
Please also bear in mind here that an unnecessary request for a declaration by the referee could disturb the concentration of the striker and would be unfair. A referee in the correct position behind the striker’s arm will almost always find such a request unnecessary.
There is also one instance when the intended direction of the cue ball may be obvious, but when the referee MUST ask the striker to declare which is the ball on and when the striker MUST comply.
This is when the cue ball is touching a coloured ball after the striker has potted a red.
The referee should state “Touching ball, please declare” to which the striker MUST verbalise a reply. (See Section 3 Rule 8a - Touching Ball) The touching ball can of course, be nominated if desired, so as to play away to a safe area. Any other coloured ball could also be nominated to attempt to continue the break or to find safety.
The referee however, cannot know what is in the player’s mind and must call a foul if there is a failure to declare. (Not declaring when asked is one of the seven fouls not necessarily involving the Black that is penalised by 7 points)
The referee also has a duty to the striker, which is to ensure that no misconceptions are in place in the mind of the referee as to the strikers stated intentions. This can be facilitated by the referee repeating the declaration, back to the player.
In the case of nominating a Free Ball, it is the practice to declare. The rule regarding nomination is exactly the same in this situation of course, but it is a good idea to speak in this instance as the Free Ball must be struck first, or first simultaneously, with a ball on and failure to do so, even if a ball that would otherwise have been on was struck first, a foul has been committed.