Last Updated on July 31, 2021.

Foosball is a popular tabletop game loosely based on soccer. Invented in the 1920s, people worldwide still revel in this entertaining sport’s fun and excitement. Often found in bars, workplaces, schools, and clubs, the foosball table also still resides proudly in the home.

Despite their similarities, foosball and soccer have different rules, and just because you’re a top goal-scorer on the pitch doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same success at the table. To work on your foosball skills, you need to understand the basic gameplay rules, as well as a few tips and tricks to impress your friends and family at your next games night. 

The Basics of Foosball

To become a foosball wizard, it’s essential you learn the basics. From the coin toss indicating initial possession to how many games are needed to win, understanding these fundamental rules will set you in good stead for developing your skills.

The premise of foosball is similar to that of soccer, in that scoring goals against your opponent is the ultimate objective. The game is played between two teams, with a maximum of 4 players each. 

You need 5 goals to win, with the number of sets ranging from 3 to 7. The team with the maximum number of games wins.

The Rules of Foosball

Following these rules ensures that you not only have a great game of foosball but a fair one too. 

  • No Spinning

Even though it may seem tempting to spin your players in an excited frenzy, note that it is against the rules. The game rules state that your rod mustn’t rotate over 360° before or after the player advances to the ball upon impact.

You must also have complete control of the handle at all times. If you let your hands go and spin the rod excessively, you lose possession of the ball. If you do spin, your opponent can reserve the ball on their 5-man rod. 

  • Time Limits 

Foosball rules state that you can only possess the ball for a certain amount of time per rod. A 5-man rod cannot exceed 10 seconds. If you do, a penalty consists of loss of ball possession to your opposing team’s 5-man rod. You also cannot go over 15 seconds in the goalie area with a 3-man rod.

  • No Jarring the Table 

The official foosball rules state that any jarring or lifting of the table is forbidden. Jarring usually occurs when someone gets too excited about a game or becomes aggressive in frustration. Tilting and lifting the table can also be a product of spinning the rods too hard or lifting the handles with too much force.

  • No Cursing 

Not only does cursing and shouting set bad examples for younger players, but it can also be distracting to the opposing teams, as well as your own. A first foul language offense will result in a penalty shot for your opponents on their 3-man rod. If you continue to disregard this rule, it can result in a loss of game or match.

  • Other Distractions

Besides cursing and making loud noises, other distractions are forbidden, including excessive movements, jumping, or hand waving. If you are caught doing any of the above, penalties are imposed.

Despite all these rules, remember to have fun with the game. It’s meant to be an enjoyable experience, so don’t take it too seriously.

How to be a Master Foosball Player

If you’re serious about mastering the game of foosball, it’s worth taking note of these tips, tricks and techniques. There’s more that goes into a great game than you’d think.

  • Invest in a Quality Foosball Table

The higher quality your table, the better your game will be. This is because your players will be more sturdy and durable, the table is heavy and more difficult to tilt, and the surface will be smoother to play on. If you’re only planning on playing casual games of foosball, table quality may not be a priority; however, you can’t beat having a high-quality version of a product for the fastest and most comfortable gameplay.

  • Master a Strategy

Foosball is as much a mental game as it is a physical game. Mastering specific strategies enable you to develop your skills and understand the next moves of your opponent. 

For example, the one-shot strategy is something many professionals focus on. This is because focusing on one shot enables you to improve your skill at setting up the shot. This strategy limits the number of times you turn the ball over while maintaining and setting up your shot.

  • Learn The Three Basic Shots

Three standard shots are the foundation for every trick shot found in foosball: the push, the pull, and the spray. The pull shot is an offensive strike taken by the middle player of the 3-man rod and executed by pulling the rod towards you until the middle player is lined up with the ball then taking the shot. The push shot is the reverse of the pull, in which you push the 3-man rod away from yourself while taking the shot. 

The spray shot is slightly more advanced and requires pulling the rod toward you while controlling the ball, then pushing the rod sharply on the release. You can also reverse the sequence. This angles the ball on a diagonal to the goal or wall. 

  • Observe Other Skilled Players

By actively seeking out other skilled foosball players and studying their game and skill, you can easily implement their techniques into your own skill set. By watching professional players, you’ll be able to identify your weaknesses and act on them in order to become a better player. 

If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to finding pro players, a great starting point, you’ll be able to watch YouTube videos of great players from the comfort of your own home and work on your weaknesses straight away. You can also follow professionally ranked players and official tournaments through the World Table Soccer Association (WTSA).

Start Your Foosball Journey Today

By understanding the rules, game basics and implementing these top pro tips, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled and agile player.

Remember, foosball is also about having fun, so by not taking the game too seriously but still following the general guidelines, you’ll be able to combine entertainment with a fair game. 

However, before you can start on your foosball journey, you need to invest in a high-quality foosball table. Look for a heavy-duty model with leg levelers to provide optimal stability, then invite your friends around and start practicing.