How To Play Foosball (Quick Beginner’s Guide)

Foosball tables seem to be everywhere these days – even my apartment complex has one by the swimming pool! But just because you’ve seen one of the tables doesn’t mean that you know how to play, let alone how to play foosball like a champ. So, if you’re new to playing foosball, let us here at Foosball Revolution give you a few tips that will help you have a successful game. Who knows, you might even win! The popularity of foosball is growing in popularity all the time, so it’s a good time to learn how to play.  The game is inspired by soccer or football for you non-Americans, and here’s a quick look at the basics of how you play.

Basic Game Objective

Your objective in the game is to put the ball in your opponent’s goal and to keep it out of your goal.  Each side has four rods that control 13 playing figures by pushing, pulling, and turning the rods.  It may sound easy enough, but it takes some practice to get the hang of managing all the rods and players.  The goal is a race to 5 points, or 5 goals, before your opponent.  If you want to play a match, then you can play 2 out of 3, or 3 out of 5 games.  The one with the most games won wins the match.

Basic Game Rules

The Table – Before you start playing, count the number of balls to make sure that you have all 9 of them. You see, foosball tables have nine balls and when you play it’s best to declare the winner as the best out of nine goals, which would be five goals to win. It’s easy to lose some of the balls, so make sure you keep some replacement foosball balls on hand. Also make sure that all players know to not spin the rods around. This seems to be more of a problem with kids than adults, but just mention it to everyone to avoid any issues during the game.

Starting The Game – most people usually start a foosball game with a coin toss. So, call your side of the coin before the flip to see who gets to serve first. If it isn’t the first game, the ball was out of play or stopped (called a dead ball), then the player that scored last would go first. What’s a dead ball? If the ball leaves the table or stops out of reach of either player’s men, it is considered a dead ball.  You can either move the ball to the nearest player or the player that last scored can give the ball a fresh serve.

Watch what the ball is hitting because the ball needs to hit the playing field before a player hits it.  You have a 10 second time limit to pass or shoot the ball.

Playing The Game – The ball can be served through any hole. Since there are 9 balls, you play the best of nine games, which means the first person to score 5 goals is the winner.

After a goal is made, the team that was scored upon gets to serve the ball. Likewise, if the ball leaves the table, then it is given to the team last scored upon to serve it.

Did the ball stop moving and neither team can get at it? Declare “dead ball,” pick it up and the last scored upon team gets to serve the ball.

No reaching into the table with your hands while a ball is in play – you can only do this when there is a dead ball situation.

The ball can only remain in one place for 15 seconds – so, don’t try to hog the ball while you come up with a strategy!

All legal shots that go into the goal are counted, even when the ball comes about out after the score.

Is spinning allowed in foosball? Absolutely not! No spinning of the rods is allowed (meaning giving the rod a 360-degree spin).

No moving the table or banging against the sidewalls. Don’t try to jar or bump the table while a game is in play as this is cheating, just like in pinball.

No distracting your opponent.

There is no unsportsmanlike conduct or language allowed.

Scoring – The ball must be touched by a man before you can score. Any time the ball goes into the goal, it is counted as a legal point – regardless of who last touched it.  As previously mentioned, if you want to win, then you need to be the first one to five goals.

Keep in mind that these are not the official tournament rules, but they are the basics that you need to know before playing a game with friends or family. And remember, the most important rule of foosball is to have a fun time!

What You Should Know About Your Foosball Handle Grip

Regardless of your intention behind playing, for fun or competition, it is important to know a few important tips when it comes to knowing exactly how to grip your foosball handle. Here is some knowledge that you can keep in mind the next time you head to the foosball table to get in some practice or a fun game with friends.

Gripping the Handle

A proper grip is important when it comes to your overall performance. This effects your speed and accuracy as well. To make sure you are able to have a maximum range of movement and enhanced speed, it is very important to grip the handle loosely. Many first time players make the mistake of gripping the handle too tight which can lead to a decrease in performance. The two main types of grips used in foosball are the traditional shot grip and the open handed grip.

The Traditional Shot Grip

Relevant to all standard foosball shots is the traditional shot grip. Standard foosball shots include the pull shot, spray shot, push shot, and tic-tac shot as well. Ideally, there should be a minimal gap between the skin which connects the thumb/index finger and the handle. An indicator that you are gripping too hard to get a good shot in is the skin being fully wrapped around the handle or having white knuckles. Many people have experience in sports where a firm grip is important, such as tennis. It is crucial to your grip to make sure you don’t carry over these habits into your foosball game.

The Open Handed Grip

If you are attempting a rollover or snake shot, an open handed grip will be used for this play option. The set up mandates that the foosball man to tilt forward and where the toe pins the ball to the table. Once this is achieved, a smooth transition between the traditional grip and the open handed grip is enacted. This is achieved by the bottom of the hand and wrist touching the handle. An upward sliding motion causes the foosball man to make a nearly full rotation before hitting the ball. What makes this a legal move in foosball? The man does not complete a full 360 degree rotation prior to making contact with the ball again.

Tips to Improve Your Grip

So, the two main grips have been covered. What can you do to improve your grip? First, make sure the handles have grips on them. This will help you keep a firm hold of the handle. You can also use gloves and tubes to help keep hold of the handles as well. The amount of grip that you need will be different than your friends or teammates, so make sure you find the product that works the best for you and your performance.

Practicing these different shots and making sure you have a good product to keep a good grip on the handles is an ideal way to drastically improve your foosball game. Try these out at your next practice or get together and see if you end up performing better than you did last time. Chances are you will find yourself victorious during your next foosball game.

Foosball Serving Tips

You should know that official foosball rules of play do not allow you to serve yourself the ball on the drop. And no one likes a rule breaker (or a cheater), so don’t do this when you play. But serving is your chance at getting immediate possession of the ball.

Like any fair game, do a coin toss with your opponent to see who gets to serve first. After this initial serve, the team that was just scored upon gets to serve.

Now, when it is your time to serve, your goal should be to spin that ball to your 5-man midfielder rod to gain possession of the ball. Yes, this is a perfectly legal play and what all the experienced players do. Otherwise, you risk giving possession of the ball to your opponent.

This type of serve takes a little practice to get the technique just right. But, it is definitely worth perfecting if you have the time. Now, here’s how to achieve this awesome serve:

  • Put the ball in your right hand and cover the serving hole with your left.
  • Put the ball in the serving hole while keeping your thumb on it in the eleven o’clock position.
  • Now, use your left hand to grab your 5-man rod.
  • Use your thumb to spin the ball counter clockwise.

You can see this serve in action in the video below.

Foosball Shooting Tips

One mistake that a lot of rookies make is stepping up to the table and giving the handles a death grip. Don’t do this. Instead, keep a sort of loose grip on the handles because you need to be able to quickly and easily change which rod your using and if your grip is too tight then it will take longer. This way, you will have more speed when you need to make those quick changes.

Not sure if you’re gripping it too tight? Well, you definitely shouldn’t be wrapping your hand completely around the handle. Instead, you should have a bit of a gap between the handle and that part of your hand between the thumb and index finger. Once you have this grip correct, you are ready for optimal speed when shooting.

They key to a good shot is all in the wrist. If you can turn the wrist quickly, you’ll end up with a good shot where the rod spins about 180 degrees and gives you some nice speed. But, if your wrist only turns about a quarter of the way, then you end up with a weak shot due to lack of speed. And you get the hang of it, you can even turn the handle on your wrist in an open-hand shot. This gives you the maximum speed when making a shot.

Basic Offense

Your goal here is to move the ball through our opponent’s 5-Bar to your offensive 3-Bar.  You want to make sure your 3-Bar is in the right position to catch the call, which means the players need to be angled forward, towards your goal to be able to hit the ball with the back of the player and will stop beneath the 3-Bar.  Then you can slow down and move the ball with your player’s feet, moving it in front of the goal, and shoot to score!

Basic Defense

Your objective here is to keep the ball from your opponent’s striker row and try to block the ball from your opponent’s shot.  You want to take control of the ball after it’s stopped.  Work to always keep one of your players in front of the ball when playing defense.  Try to refrain from randomly striking the ball because it can backfire and you can make a goal for your opponent.

Basic Game Play Tips

  • It’s recommended to serve the ball with your 5-Bar, but there are different ways to serve the ball.  You may want to practice different techniques to find which one works the best for you.  You want your serves to be consistent and to go to your players first.
  • Keep your players close to the ball instead of swinging the player up high; this will help keep more control of the ball.
  • Keeping your eyes on the ball movement more than rod action will keep you from being distracted by your opponent’s rod movements.  You will increase your ability to focus on your shots.
  • Practice wrist flicking because this is how most of your shots will be made.
  • Stagger the players so you can block more paths to the goal.  Use your rods wisely, because if you have two different players lined up perfectly, you will be blocking the same space twice.
  • Watch for sloppy shots from your opponent.  Many goals are made by deflecting, rather than purposeful shots.
  • Do not stop while your opponent is setting up their serve or shot.  Keep moving to keep ahead of the game.
  • Avoid having your two player rod cross the rear center goalie.  When you switch or cross this rod, you leave one player (goalie) blocking the goal.  Your opponent can watch for a switch and take advantage to score.
  • Try to avoid creating patterns to the way you move or play.
  • Practice moving the ball from player to player to gain more control of your game.
  • And remember, NO SPINNING!

Spending time to learn how to play foosball and practicing your moves will improve your game, and you will have more fun.  Remember to show good sportsmanship to your opponent and everyone will have a great time!