A burned ball is a ball that is taken out of the court for the duration of a frame, or, in some cases, the entire game. There are several reasons a ball might be “burned.”
1. USBF rules require that in order to be a valid roll, the ball cannot travel the length of the court and hit the backboard without first striking the pallino or another ball. In this case, the ball is “burned,” or removed from the court until the start of the next frame.
2. If a ball is thrown with enough speed that when it strikes the pallino or another ball, and leaves the court, it is burned until the start of the next frame. This is true when the ball stays out of the court, or when it returns back onto the court a moment or so after leaving. Normally, this problem might occur when a player “shoots” the ball; that is, when the player starts several steps behind the foul line, takes three or four steps, and releases the ball raffa style with enough force to hit an inside ball away, or hit the pallino to another part of the court. It will be noted that if the pallino leaves the court, the frame is ended and a new frame starts from the same side of the court, with the same team throwing the pallino to start the frame as if the cancelled frame didn’t happen.
3. Rules state that once a ball has crossed over the foul line, it is in play. It is very important that if a player crosses the foul line for any reason, all balls must remain behind the foul line. If a player carries a ball with him or her, the ball is burned for the remainder of the frame. The reason being that once a ball crosses over the foul line it is in play, and by the act of carrying the ball, the player in interfering with a ball in valid play.
4. The one instance where a ball is burned for an entire game is when a team is playing without a complete team. If a game being played is a four-players-per-team game, and one of the players is missing for the entire game for any reason, the make-up of the team is that two of the players play at one end of the court as usual, while the third player plays by him or herself at the other end. Although the side with two players play with two balls each, the side with the single player must burn one ball, and that frame will be played with the single player playing with three balls. This continues for the entire game when the frame is played from the side with the single player.