Ultimate Foosball Table Buying Guide
Whether you’re new to this popular table game or an enthusiast looking to add one of your favorite past-times to your home rec room, one thing is certain - buying a foosball table is a great investment. The game can be played by two to four players and it can be an intense, but fun, time with friends or family. To help you make this decision, we want to give you some tips before you shop so that you end up with the very best foosball table for the money.
- What Is It?
- Types of Foosball Tables
- What To Look For In Your New Foosball Table
- Shopping By Player Skill Level
What Is It?
If you’re fairly new to being a fooser, there is a good chance that you’ve either seen one of the tables or watched some people at play. The object of the games is to score the most goals against your opponent, which you do by maneuvering a small ball across the table’s surface with the help of little men that are attached to the playing rods. There are eight rods in total in the table, with each team having control of four of the rods. It’s easy to know which ones are yours to control as they have handles or grips on them.
All you do is flick your wrists to control and rods and do your best to move the ball into a position to score against the opposing team. While that is a simplified version of the game, it gives you a brief overview of the basics.
What’s nice about this game is that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages - from kids to adults. It is very easy to both learn and play the game. And if you get really good at it, there are professional organizations and competitions where you can put those skills on displays against other great players.
In addition to home game rooms, these are great additions to pubs, youth rec centers, office break rooms, arcades and more. They work for some many different types of settings because there are different types of foosball tables to meet every budget and need. Below, we’ll show you the different types of tables that you can buy as well as things to consider before making that purchase.
Types of Foosball Tables
As you get ready to do your shopping, keep in mind that there are a few different types of tables on the market. Knowing in advance which type you are looking for will help speed up your shopping process and ensure that you get a table that you’ll be able to enjoy for many years down the line.
Standard Foosball Table
For most people, this is probably the type that you’re most familiar with right now. This is a full-size gaming table. Though you have to put it together when it arrives at your home, this is considered an all-in-one sort of table. These are designed to stay in one place, so that are often rather heavy due to being constructed of solid wood. Some of the cheaper models use a combination of real wood and MDF particle board and those ones weigh less but are still usually at least 100 pounds. Most of the standard tables are made from high quality components that are designed to last you for several years of game play. Some are even heavy duty models that you can leave outside! If you’re on a tight budget, one important thing to pay attention to is the size of the table. Many of the cheaper tables are not full-size, which might not matter to you, but it is definitely something to consider when evaluating models.
Tabletop Foosball Tables
Often you will hear this type referred to as a mini foosball table due to it’s small size. The small shape is perfect for kids as well as people who don’t have a lot of space for a full size table but who still want to be able to enjoying some foosballing when the mood strikes. With tabletop models, you need a sturdy playing surface, such as a dining room table, coffee table or countertop. You can also put them on the floor, but it won’t be the most comfortable way to play. A lot of parents prefer tabletop models for their kids because it offers a cheap way for the kiddos to learn to play the game before upgrading to a larger table. But these aren’t just for kids! I’ve seen these small tabletop versions in college dorms as well. The important thing to know about these is that plastic is usually what they are made of, which is why they are so cheap. However, it also means that they are not built to last, so don’t expect high quality.
Combination Game Tables
If you’re shopping for kids or just want the most bang for your buck, then a combination game table might be of interest to you. Exactly like it sounds, this type of gaming table is able to be converted into several different types of table games all in one table. This can be something like a foosball, air hockey and billiards table in one. The combinations vary by manufacturer and model, but these are typically high quality tables that are full size or close to it. But every so often you can find a tabletop version as well. These are great for kids as well as people who live in small apartments or condos and don’t have room for several game tables. They’re also a good choice if you only have enough money in your budget for one table and you don’t want to have to choose with game is your favorite.
Coin-Operated Foosball Tables
You probably aren’t shopping for this type of table as it is the kind that you find in businesses like arcades and sports bars. Like the name implies, this type requires coins for you to be able to play. If you are actually looking for this type of table, know that it is probably the most expensive type out there due to the extra components for taking money. Plus, these tables are ultra heavy duty in order to withstand all the abuse that customers might throw at it.
What To Look For In Your New Foosball Table
Now that you have a good idea of what type of foosball table you’re looking for, it is important to take a moment and familiarize yourself with the more popular features that you can look for in a new table. As you’ll see below, features vary a bit and often the price of the table is what determines if you’re getting the cheap features and components or the high-end ones. We suggest you determine which of the below features are most important to you and shop based on that.
If you want a standard full-size table, then you need one that is 56-inches long and 30-inches wide. And remember, that width does not include fully extended rods. So, if shopping for a tight or narrow space in your home, be sure to get the width with the rods extended. On average, experts recommend having a playing space of 7-feet by 8-feet for your foosball table.
One thing that you will immediately notice as you compare foosball tables is that some are single-man goalies and some are three-man goalies. When it comes to the foosball one goalie or three question, which one is best is just a matter of preference. Most tables in the USA are three-man goalies while most in the UK are single-man goalies.
If you want a game that is very fast paced, then go with the three-man goalie setup. If you want a game that requires more skill and precision, then go with a one-man goalie setup. And if you’re attempting to build your skills, know that the single-man goalie table will definitely help you become a better player. We suggest the three-man goalie setup for kids and beginners.
Keep in mind that most of the high end tables with a three-man goalie setup can easily be converted to a one-man goalie setup.
Counter Weighted Men
For the best game play, and if you wanna do it like the pros do, opt for a table that has counter weighted men. If you’re wondering what the big deal is about these, it’s easy - they stay in a horizontal position when you release them, which means you don’t have to worry about them getting in your way when you’re taking a shot. Overall, you’ll be able to play a much better game if you have counter weighted men on the playing rods.
If you want to play a fair game, then choosing a foosball table that has table levelers is a necessity. Just think about it - if you have a table that leans at all, then whoever is not on that leaning side has the advantage every single game. There are a few different types of levelers that you can encounter, but they all work toward the same basic function. So, as you compare tables, keep in mind that you should look for one with levelers to keep the game play fair.
One thing that you should not compromise on is playing rods that are made of steel. You definitely want to make sure that you only consider buying something with steel rods. Hollow rods are the best because they speed up your game play since they rods are not has heavy. Most of the high-end foosball tables, like those by Tornado, usually have hollow rods. And you find solid steel rods in the mid-level foosball tables. Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with sold steel rods, in fact they are great, but the reduced weight of the hollow rods really speeds up your game play with those super fast shots.
As you shop, you will notice that the tables vary when it comes to what materials are used in their construction. You will see:
- Solid Wood
- Particle board
Obviously, some of the highest quality models are going to be made with solid wood and the lowest quality with particle board. Composite falls between the two of those, but it does have a few advantages over solid wood. With solid wood tables, the wood is subject to humidity, which can lead to some warping if you live in a humid climate or if you keep it in a humid room. However composite is not affected by humidity, so it won’t warp and it is very durable as long as it is at least one-inch thick. Particle board is a very, very cheap material that actually weakens and breaks down over time. In fact, if you buy a particle board table then it can actually fall apart over time. A good indicator that a table is made of particleboard is that it weighs well under 70 pounds. We suggest you avoid any tables made of particleboard.
There are a few different things that you will want to pay attention to when checking out the table’s surface. Even if you’re not there to physically inspect it, you can usually get the info from the product description.
You definitely want a table with a laminate instead of stick-on designs. Why? Because the stick-on ones can peel and roll up, which is a problem during game play. Normally, you only have to worry about the stick-on designs if you get a cheap particleboard table. This also includes the field markings - stay away from tables that use stick-on field markings for the same reason.
The final thing to consider about the table surface is speed. With most American tables, the playing surface has a very smooth and hard finish. And the harder and smoother the surface, the faster your ball will travel during play. Many European tables have a solid wood finish that results in slower ball travel. If you want to get really good and play like the professionals, then you need a table that offers quick ball travel like Tornado tables.
Shopping By Player Skill Level
For some people, the best way to compare foosball tables is to shop the market based on the player’s skill level. So, whether you are shopping for yourself, a family member or friend, let’s take a look at the best foosball table types by skill level.
Beginners (and kids)
If you’re shopping for kids who have never played before, then a tabletop model is likely the best choice for you. This is partly due to regular tables being too tall for most kiddos, but also because the mini tabletop models are very cheap and can take the abuse that kids might give them.
If you’re shopping for teens or someone who is completely new to the game, then a cheap particle board model might be the best option. This way, you won’t have to spend a lot of money up front and you can always upgrade later on if you decide that a more mid-level table has the quality that you desire. Plus, you can easily sell your cheap used table on Craigslist or at a yard sale.
If you’re shopping for someone who is not new to the game but who doesn’t play a lot or need a heavy duty, super high quality model, then a good mid-level table is a great option. For $500 or less, you can get a good quality table with smooth moving solid steel rods, durable composite construction, a flat playing surface, and some of the more high-end features.
If you are shopping for a serious player, then only the best will do. You need a table that is durable, has the highest quality, all of the best features, and is built to last. This type of high-end or tournament-level table features a sturdy cabinet, solid legs and looks great in your rec room. The rods move smoothly and are often hollow steel rods, but sometimes solid steel rods. The playing surface is completely flat and the table is a dream to play.