Foosball Fundamentals: Basic Rules Explained for Beginners

Foosball Fundamentals

Foosball rules & techniques have a slight variation depending on the region. But, the fundamentals of the game remain the same. Read on and I will try and go thru all the fundamentals here.

Foosball or Table soccer is a game played between two teams consisting of 1 to 4 players each. Each game is of 5 goals, and the number of sets can be anything from 3 to 7. The winner is the team with the maximum number of games.

That being said there are a lot of facets to the game going from types of shots, accessories and different techniques for different situations.

A Coin toss decides the initial possession, like the field football. The team that wins can choose the shot or the side.

Read on below or choose a section in our Table of Content.

Bar Handle Gripping Techniques

The overall performance in foosball is majorly dependent on how you hold the handle. This decides the pace, flexibility of movement, and precision of your shots.

Beginners often make the big mistake of holding the bar handle too tight. Keeping it tight takes away speed and flexibility. It also makes it challenging to shift the handles.

The central idea is to stay calm and relaxed. Let the friction between handle and the arms do the movement. The grips are often of good quality that allows for enough resistance.

The friction allows you the best control and flexibility you need to become better at the game. Though there are different ways of holding the handle, there are two popular grips

1. The conventional or Tradition Way

This is the way you would keep anything like a handle. This is our natural way of catching any cylindrical object. Most beginners start conventionally.

With the fingers pointing downward, and thumbs along the rod, you place your inner palm on the outer sides of the rod. Then you curl the fingers till you have a firm grip.

Though this can be used to play most of the straight shots, it becomes difficult during passing and dodging. It also makes it difficult to move from one-rod handle to another.

And, nothing is more critical in Foosball then the flexibility to move from one bar to another. The traditional way is the way to continue until you are aware of all the shots and passes before you move to the more expert way of holding handle.

Traditional Grip is preferable for the conventional sots- Push, Pulls & Spray.

2. The Expert or Open Handed Way

This takes a lot of practice. It entirely relies on the friction served by handles. It’s better to check the grip on handles before starting to practice the Open Handed Grip.

This gives you the flexibility to move about at pace that can baffle the opponent. Most of the champions of the game use this. Though, this isn’t a rule. Some players play exceptionally fast in the traditional way.

In the open-handed grip, as the name suggests, you don’t curl your fingers. You use the inner palm and thumbs to control the handle.

The open-handed grip looks stylish, but this shouldn’t be a part of the game because of the way it looks. Initially, it can be challenging to control the ball with this grip.

But, once you have perfected this grip, you can move around fast. As you are not holding the handle, you save time changing the rods.

In foosball, a second saved can make all the difference between winning and losing. Open-handed is used to play the problematic shots like rollover or snake shot.

Types of Foosball Shots

Like the field, football has its a variation of kicks with the chip, volley, etc. Foosball also has shots that need to perfect with time.

The range of shots you can play decides how good you will play the game. But, great players are also known for perfection in particular shot.

Initially, a player plays more on impulse and focusses mostly on hitting the ball. Gradually, the shots develop and become better when once practices more.

All these shots provide the Foosball player with the skills to master this game. Each shot needs to be practiced a lot before trying in a competitive match.

1. The Pull Shot

This shot is the most well-known shot in Foosball. Almost everyone in foosball plays this shot. The Pull shot is a part of every player’s repertoire. But, one needs to understand the technique to make it more effective.

One needs to place oneself comfortable for the stance and grip. There should be a reasonable gap between the legs and body slouching slightly towards the table. The grip should be flat and firm on the handle.

The simplicity of the shot lies in its execution. You pull the ball towards your player and flick it with a quick twist of the handle.

The problem with the shot is that you rely entirely on the opponent’s mistake. If the opponent has left straight gaps with no defense, you can score from far.

The speed is the key in the pull shot. Initially, you might find it challenging to generate momentum. Hence, the ball would be easily stopped by the opponent.

You should practice the shot regularly and increase the pace gradually. Some players can generate ball speed of more than 35 mph.

2. The Push Shot

As the word suggests, it is just opposite to the shot above. Most of the Foosball game for beginners is the combination of push and pull.

In this, you push the rod away from you and flick the ball towards the goal. But, it is difficult to score a goal with the push shot.

While pushing the inertia often makes it challenging to generate the speed required to score a goal. This shot works well with other skills but not sufficient on its own.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have this shot in your skillset. This is a decent shot for defense technique. It makes the defense stronger.

The Push and Pull shots should be practiced to perfection before advancing to slightly more complicated shots.

Both these shots are straight. If you are playing an opponent with useful defense techniques, scoring becomes difficult with these two shots.

3. The Tic-Tac Shot

Now, you are entering the advance level of Foosball Fundamentals. Till now, the shots were mostly straight forward and made for beginners.

With the tic-tac shots, you begin playing mind games with the opponent. This is to make the opponent off-guard. This shot indicates the opponent that you are buying time.

But, you do just the opposite. You pass the ball from one player to another on the same rod: Back and forth a couple of times and as you see the gap you flick hard.

This shot can be a push or pull, depending on the opportunity in hand. You can do it from either of the 4 bars- goalie, defender, midfielder, and striker.

It takes time to gain control over the tic-tac shots. The ball can easily roll down from your bar to the opponent if you can’t maintain the speed of the handle with the speed of the ball.

This shot helps in making a game out of Foosball. You can also use the shooting to pass from one rod to another.

4. The Bank Shot

This is one up on field soccer. Only foosball allows you this shot. By using the bank shot, you can baffle your opponent.

You hit the ball on one of the walls, and the ball bounces off the wall towards the goal. Though this is very satisfying, it takes a lot to perfect the bank shot.

The difficulty comes from the fact that depending on different rods, players, and position, and the angles are different.

Initially, for the beginners, the goals scored through the bank shot are mostly flukes. A bank shot well-executed is an excellent sight in Foosball match.

Another problem with the shot is the loss of speed. This loss of speed gives the opponent a fraction of extra time to defend.

On the other side, it is difficult for the opponent to guess the exact position for the rod. It’s a great skill to have, but it needs a lot of practice. Very few players play bank shots to perfection.

5. The Spray Shot

As the name says, these shots don’t go straight. This is an advance level of push and pulls shots. This is usually more effective.

Unlike Push and Pull, in Spray shots, you make angles. You don’t hit the ball from the center but the sides.

You can also use the combination of ball speed and handle speed to create the diagonal movement of the ball.

You can use this shot both for scoring and passing the ball from one rod to another, back and forth.

Players who perfect The Spray are good at making the game before scoring. The angular shots can be played in either direction, left or right.

6. The Rollover (Snake Shot)

The Rollover shot also goes by the name of snake shot. This is perhaps the most advanced of all the Foosball shots. It needs hours and hours of practice before execution.

The middle player in the rod with three players plays the shot: mostly the striker rod. The ball is passed from the side of the players to the player in the middle.

The mid-striker has to pin the ball under the toes. The strikes move the ball a little before setting up for the shot in the goal.

It’s difficult to say if this is difficult on the Foosball or Football, but it does take a lot of time. The toughest part is that it involves pinning.

Pinning is stopping the ball and taking it in control of one player. Perfect practice leads to pinning in the game. Any lapses and the ball can easily roll over to another team.

Only the advance level players execute this shot. For beginners, it’s not recommended. This should be only practiced after learning to control the game in general.

This is the top 6 shots but if you want to learn more shots the check out our article of Foosball Shots here. We also have an article on how you can get better by training your Foosball Solo here.

Types of Foosball Pass

A Foosball game isn’t only about hitting the ball into the goal. The game is indeed a miniature game of soccer. To play it well, one needs to understand the passing as well.

The good players make a game before scoring. Different passing techniques help you towards making that game. Like football, foosball is about keeping the ball in position.

Beginners don’t usually indulge much in passing. But as one keeps practicing, the passing techniques develop. Some are natural, but all can be practiced and perfected.

Advance level players use these passes in their games

1. The Tic-Tac

The Tic-tac passing happens on one rod. It can be done on any one of the four rods. The essential purpose is to confuse the opponent.

In Tic-Tac Passing the ball is moved rapidly and swiftly along the same rod. The quick passing keeps the opponent thinking. For a weak opponent, the defense can easily be broken by this passing.

The key here is speed & control. The idea is to start with slow speed passing between different players on the rod and gradually increase it.

Pinning should also be developed because sometimes the slope makes it difficult for constant passing. Pinning also helps you re-strategize

Tic-Tac can be a great skill to have for players looking to improve their game. This makes both your defense and offense stronger.

2. The Brush

The Brush passing raises the bar of passing. It involves passing diagonally from one bar to another, usually form 5 five-player bar to the three-player bar.

The Brush technique involves brushing the ball. This brushing allows you to create spin and angles. Without touching the diagonal passing becomes more effective.

To play brush pass, the players are tilted slightly backward and the foot brushed against the ball. By using the brushing technique with push and pull, you can pass balls to any player on the table.

The brush is also used to create spin. By utilizing both counters and clockwise turn, you can baffle the opponent. The bouncing from the wall becomes difficult to predict.

Brushing also depends slightly on the quality of the ball and the materials used to make the players in the foosball.

Foosball Fundamental Terms

1. Basic Defense

This is the way you keep your player defense when the ball has the other team. The flaw in basic technique can expose your defense.

The two extremes of necessary defense are leaving the defense rod still and tilting them too high. The excellent defense technique is to be in the middle. The defense player should be tilted inward.

The Basic defense might change depending on the type of table. As different tables have a different combination of players, techniques differ slightly.

Along with this slight tilting, the players move back and forth. The moving increases the area of coverage. The tilting will strengthen the defense for diagonal, angular and spin shots.

Pinning also helps in building a stronger defense. All these techniques together make the primary defense. The defense is indeed the best form of offense.

2. Vertical Alignment of Players

How to set the rods in hand? The right technique is to keep them slightly inclined inward. The two rods in hand should make a V.

This gives you an edge in the game. You maximize the area you can control by making the V. This also helps in taking the ball from the opponent during rollover at the center. Being upright makes it tough for a player to control.

So, the handles not in hand should be vertical. The two in hand should always be tilting inward. The only caveat is not to lean so much that it passes under the feet.

A thirty-degree tilt is advisable for a good game of foosball.

3. Staggering

A player has two handles in control and two at rest. The two in hand should never be aligned in a straight line.

The basic idea is to stagger the distribution of players. This improves the defense, and you remain in control of the game.

Each bar should be used to fill the gap of the rod close to it. Lesser differences mean better positions. Staggering of players are intended to create difficulty for the opponent.

The only thing to see is that you don’t want your players blocking your shot to goal. Staggering in defense should be balanced with the ability to tilt them high for the long ball towards the goal.

Dead Ball

Dead Ball is all the situations when the ball goes out of play, in many of the conditions possible. It could jump off the table, or stuck between goal and rod, or between any two rods.

The rules for each case are slightly different. When the ball is dead close to the goal, it is placed on the nearest corner.

When the ball goes dead between rods, the ball is brought back in-game by the player who had served before. In any other case, it belongs to the one serving before the ball went dead.

The ball is only placed and usually the rolling due to the slope brings the game alive. Though, some players perfect the backspin technique. This ensures that the ball always rolls in their direction.

Another thing is to understand that the player leaving the game doesn’t make the ball dead. If both players mutually decide, then it will be considered dead.

Penalty

The rules of penalties vary slightly in different places. But, mostly it is awarding the point to the opponent or taking a point away. The penalties could be a foul or a goal.

Some of the actions are prohibited and penalized in foosball

1. Touching the Ball While in Play

You are not allowed, whatsoever, to move the ball while in-game. It immediately reduces your points as a penalty and gives control to another player.

2. Spinning the Rod

The rule is that you cannot turn the rod completely; a complete rotation of 360 Degrees is penalized in Foosball.

Read our article on why NOT to spin in foosball.

3. Disturbing the Opponent

The two players cannot do anything to distract the concentration of the opponent. Any disturbance like calling name or laughing or any other distraction could be penalized if the other player complains.

4. Moving the table

The players are only supposed to hold the handles and move it around. If any player pushes the table, consciously or unconsciously, it can be penalized with a reduction in point or point to another player.

5. Sportsmanship

There is no standard rule for integrity but any behavior that lacks fairness could be penalized. Kindly find the details of this wherever you play. It differs from place to place. While most games allow players to talk, some don’t.

Either way, it’s essential to show sportsman spirit.

Rules for Multi-Player Foosball Game

Paired Foosball Competition

The players can be swapped using a time out. But, you can’t stop the game in between to ask for a time out. There could be a penalty for such disturbances in the game.

Multi-Player Competitions

Each player is assigned the position at the beginning of the play, during the toss. Each of the four positions is- Defender, Midfielder, and Goalie & Striker. The Players can’t swap positions when the game is on.

The Players can swap when the match stops due to any of the reasons- a declared break, a time out, a dead ball due to any reason, a player getting injured. If a player handles the bar of the other player, the result could be a penalty of goal or points.

Techniques for better serve

This part is only relevant for home games since there isn’t a real serv in tournament games.

The sportsman spirit demands that you serve neutrally. But, serving in a manner to help your team has become more of a matter of skill now. Most of the places it is accepted by both the sides to use their skills to keep possession after the serve.

One of the techniques is to drop the ball at the angle that spirals it out in your direction. Almost every player uses this technique while serving. If you are playing at a new place, you should confirm the accepted norm.

Another way to help yourself with the serve is to apply a backspin. The backspin brings the ball back right into your possession.

Backspin is easy to practice as you just need a ball. To spin it back, you hold the ball with your fingers, firm the grip with thumb and flick it clockwise. To get more spin, you need to provide more revolution to the ball.

Techniques for Better Pass

Like football like Foosball: a player cannot become better without perfecting the pass. Both the passes- on the same rod and across the rod- have to be improved for better play.

For better passing, one should begin with a slow speed pass at the same rod. The practice should continue till one can pass between every two players on the ord.

Pinning also helps in better passing because it gives you time to gather thoughts. Another thing important for passing is the capacity to hold the angles of the players at thirty degrees regularly.

Techniques like brushing and spinning make it difficult for the opponent to intercept the passes between two rods.

To pass between two rods, one has to be aware of the defense technique of player in the opposition. One shouldn’t hurry into going close to the goal. The key is to keep the ball in possession most of the time.

Techniques for Better Defense

The defense is the best form of offense. You allow the opponent fewer opportunities to score goals you increase your chances of winning.

The key to good defense is covering as much area as possible. The point is not to let many gaps that your opponent can exploit.

By staggering, tilting and keeping the ball in possession you can improve your defense skills. They all work together towards making your game better.

The defense isn’t only about stopping and deflecting but keeping the ball in possession. A good defense retains the ball opponent has shot. One needs to get complete control of push, pull, and passing on the same rod to strengthen the defense.

All the techniques that apply to Football defense apply to Foosball

Techniques for a Better Shot

The winner of the game is the one that scores the number of goals. One of the essential techniques is not to hurry into shots.

You don’t win by making many attempts but by converting. Keep the ball on your side as long as you don’t see a gap. The idea is to reach the striker rod. This is the first aim.

With better defense and passing, you can continuously reach the striker rod. Once you enter, the conversion should be high.

Shots like rollover should be perfected to have the maximum conversion. Also, bank shots, if executed, can result in a lot of conversions as it makes it very difficult for the opposition to set a defense for balls coming off the wall.

Finally, increase the speed gradually. You can spot a gap, but if you don’t have speed, it will be stopped more often. Work on speed continuously and perfect at least one type of shot before you become the jack of all trades.

Techniques to Generate Speed

When you are playing Foosball, you need to put momentum to the ball. Without the momentum and speed, it is difficult to score in foosball. Also, it is impossible to score from mid-field and defense.

To improve the speed, one needs to work on the flick of the wrist. The speed in Foosball isn’t about power. It is all about the rotation of your wrist. The wrist should turn quickly to impart momentum to the ball.

Another factor that contributes to the speed and momentum is the position of the ball that is in touch with the player. If you are not hitting the center, the legs might just touch the ball and roll it to the other side.

The legs should be in full contact with the ball while aiming for the goal. This will ensure that enough speed is generated on the Ball.

Foosball Accessories

Though foosball tables are more or less same, you can improve your playing experience by changing the parts and adding accessories

Foosball Hand Gloves

You only use your hands to play Foosball. Sometimes the grip and the handle can wear out or are two slippery to allow for enjoyable playing experience.

Foosball Gloves allow for better control and gripping. Especially, if you play open-handed, gloves add to your playing experience.

We have a more in-depth article on Foosball Gloves here

Foosball Balls

Though all balls look alike, they actually differ. Based on the quality of the mat on the table, different balls would behave differently.

It’s better to have balls that have a smooth surface and no rough edges. The material of the ball should allow for free movement and durability.

Read our article on choosing the right foosball ball for you here

Handle Grips

Perhaps, they are the essential part of the Foosball for players. The whole game is controlled through the grips on the handle.

A better handle grip isn’t only an enjoyable playing experience: it also helps you improve your game in the long run. Handle grips must be good to enjoy the game.

Other Types of Foosball tables

The first Foosball table was made more than a century ago. Since then, many variations of the tables have come to the market, each with its pros and cons.

Based on the numbers of rods and players, the following different types of tables are used.

6-Rod Foosball Table

The table comes with 6 rods with three players on each rod. It’s a nine-player team. The table is comparatively small and is mostly preferred by beginners for its ease of playing.

M8-Rod Foosball Tables

The 8-Rod Foosball tables are most widely used in the world today. Each team gets four rods, but the number of players on each rod can differ. Some of the available options are

* 1 Goalkeeper, 2 Defense, 5 Midfield and 3 Strikers (11 Players)

* 2 Goalkeepers, 3 Defense, 5 Midfield and 3 Strikers (13 Players)

* 2 Goal Keepers, 4 Defense, 4 Midfield and 3 Strikers (13 Players)

* 3 Goal Keepers, 4 Defense, 4 Midfield and 2 Strikers (13 Players)

* 3 Goal Keepers, 3 Defense, 5 Midfield and 2 Strikers (13 Players)

Though the rules are the same for all the combinations, practicing on a new combination needs some adaptation.

Popular Foosball Tables Design Types

1. Table Top Foosball Table

These are the small Foosball Tables that can be kept on top of any table. These are good for beginners. They don’t cost much and are easy to store.

But if you have passed the stage of beginner, it might not be fun. These are mostly for young kids to play at home.

2. Board Foosball Table

These are the standard Foosball Table you see everywhere. You stand and play. Probably, this is the one that most of the Foosball players lover.

By standing, you can get a better stance and flexible movement of the body. This can be played by 2, 4, 8 or even 16 players.

3. Adjustable foosball Table

The height can be adjusted for the table. So, it can accommodate everyone in the family. These are found in homes of Foosball enthusiastic families.

They can come in metal, plastic or even wood. Though, most of them are metals.

4. Folding Foosball Table

A suitable table for homes: it can be simply folded and kept in a corner. They are also made of metals and plastics.

All said wooden foosball tables are the ones most players prefer. Nothing beats the heavy wooden table that maintains its stability amidst all the inspired action of the players.

Foosball History

Foosball has an interesting history. Based on the popularity of football, this game was invented. This is perhaps the only game that was accepted widely, after being based on the popular outdoor game.

The ISTF (International Soccer Table Federation) makes all the standard rules of the game. Today, the game is one of the most popular table games all over the world. Foosball is loved by kids, grownups, men, women alike.

The game has brought together football enthusiasts. It gives football lovers to interact over an indoor game. It’s generally seen that football lovers take up Foosball. It gives them the same thrill.

When it started, Foosball was only played in some pockets of Europe. Now, it is played all over Europe, all of America, Canada, Asia and a few of the African nations. It is perhaps the most popular bar and café game in the world.

Foosball Championships

Most of the people play Foosball for fun, excitement, and camaraderie. Friends and colleagues often go to cafes and pubs. But this game has grown to be a professional sport.

There are hundreds of local, national, and international foosball competitions all over the world. Annually, Foosball World Cup is organized, where professionals from across the globe come to play. Hundreds of players come and participate in this coveted event.

The USA produces more professional Foosball players than any other country in the world. Most of the Foosball winners are from the United States.

What Not to do While Playing Foosball

You should know that Foosball in spite of being a fun sport it is very competitive. Players take the game very seriously. As a beginner, you should respect the seriousness of the game.

Once you are playing, don’t think about scoring points. You shouldn’t mind losing hundreds of time. You should focus on developing the skills.

You shouldn’t try too hard. Beginners often try to put power in the game. This isn’t a game of power. This is a game of skills. Even a small kid can generate high speed with the right technique. Be careful, gentle, and swift.

You shouldn’t think that you are not good at it. The game can be frustrating sometimes. Especially if you are playing with an expert: it can be disheartening.

Don’t worry: your time will come. And, when it does, Foosball is one of the most satisfying sports in the world.

How to Improve Your Overall Foosball Game

The best way to enhance the foosball game is to work on skills gradually. The game, though not taken seriously as sports by most needs a lot of skills. It takes years to become good at playing foosball. It isn’t a child’s play.

Begin with one player game: it gives you more time on the table. Learn how to block the ball, how to pass, how to shoot etc. Develop the hand-eye coordination needed for this sport.

Perhaps, Foosball needs more hand-eye coordination than most of the sports out there. It’s high-speed games, and the decision has to be made in a fraction of seconds.

As it works with all the games, you improve with practice. More you practice, more you understand the intricacy of the sports. This foosball fundamental is for beginners. You will know more when you start exercising.

Also, read our article on drills to practice foosball by yourself.

Variation in the Rules

Though the standard regulations are stated above, foosball is played with different rules in different places. Though there is an approved body for deciding rules, owing to the entertainment nature of the game, rules can be bent.

If you are playing at a new place, it is recommended that you confirm the rules before playing, unlike sports like Basketball or Soccer, Foosball rules can have massive variations.

Similar Table Games

There are other games like Foosball. If you love Foosball, you might like them too. Air-Hockey is one of the games that offer almost the same excitement as Foosball. The game is fast, needs a lot of hand-eye combination.

The advantage of Air-Hockey is that it is straightforward to pay. It doesn’t need skill levels to be high. You can just get on with your impulse, and you will be good at it.

Conclusion

Foosball is a great sport: born in Europe, popularized by the USA, and this game has grown leaps and bounds in the last few decades. You can see them everywhere. This blog “Foosball Fundamentals: Basic rules explained for beginners” has been written to give you the complete fundamental of the game.

The idea was to give you all the information you need in one place. This will help you know what you are getting into and how to improve your game. You are now hopefully informed on Foosball Fundamentals