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The Foosball Debate: Is it a Sport or Just a Game?

Foosball is a game that has received much attention owing to its unique nature. At the first instance, it sounds like a parody of the sport “football’ or “soccer’, but in the next, it appears to be an actual game that helps build team spirit and hand-to-eye coordination skills. Since the time foosball came into existence, one controversial matter that has been lingering around is the foosball debate: is it a sport or just a game? 

When is a Game also a Sport?

Some individuals and people who are into other sports like soccer and tennis may scoff at foosball and argue that it is simply little more than a board game of sorts and hence cannot be called a sport in any sense. Quite often, those are the individuals who have never given much thought to foosball itself. They may have seen it being played either on television or personally in their neighborhoods and may have never tried playing it themselves. 

However, following the realizations about what foosball as a game demands from the players, a lot of people have started taking the game seriously. They acknowledge that the physical capabilities and skills demanded by foosball are nothing less than that demanded by other, more traditional sports such as tennis or badminton demand. 

While other individuals who have dedicated their lives to learning the various strategies and tips to beating their opponents in foosball are likely to say the contrary which is that foosball is an actual sport and it is no lesser than other sports like soccer, basketball, etc. Those people often happen to be the individuals who have personally tried playing foosball and hence are much more aware of what the game entails and what it expects or demands from them. 

Additionally, this question may have occurred to a lot of foosball enthusiasts, whether they be absolute beginners who have picked up an interest in the game or seasoned players who didn’t give much thought to the question. 

Hence, we have written this article to help you clarify whether foosball is a sport or is it just a game.

Why is Foosball a Sport?

Foosball, above all else, is a recreational activity, much like soccer, basketball, baseball, and so on. Recreational activities by definition could include anything or any form of activity that provides (or has the potential to provide) relaxation and stimulation to the mind. 

However, recreational activities are divided into two categories, including sports and games. It is possible for sports to be games as well, but not necessarily the other way around always. In other words, sports can also be played simply for amusement, in which case they could fit the definition of “games’, but games may not always fulfill the criteria necessary for them to be recognized as sports.


However, recreational activities are divided into two categories, including sports and games. It is possible for sports to be games as well, but not necessarily the other way around always. In other words, sports can also be played simply for amusement, in which case they could fit the definition of “games’, but games may not always fulfill the criteria necessary for them to be recognized as sports.

When deciding whether a recreational activity to be either a sport or a game, certain factors need to be considered. Those factors when understood and analyzed can help us determine whether any recreational activity such as foosball is a game or a sport? 

The first thing to consider is whether a person can be a full-time player or not. Sports have professional players who only focus on the game they play and nothing more. Recreational activities such as football, basketball, cricket, tennis, etc. are sports in every sense because they have individuals who practice them like it’s their fulltime job. Professional players look up to sports to earn their livelihood, and hence, those could be considered as sports. 

Foosball is no different. The International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) is an original organization that is tasked with the regulations and ruleset of the game, and there are professional foosball players who practice learning and mastering the game day and night, much like basketball, tennis, or any other sport.

Second, a sport must be an athletic activity of sorts that is of competitive nature and has the potential to challenge the skills and/or physical prowess of a person. 

Foosball clears this dimension, too. While foosball as a sport might appear to be simple as the players just stand in one location and try to score goals on a table board, the reality is far different. Hitting the foosball hard requires significant levels of upper body strength from the player because if they do not twist the foosball rods hard enough, they will not be able to hit the ball for it to reach their opponents’ goalpost. 

Furthermore, foosball can be extremely competitive in nature. The ITSF hosts international tournaments wherein victories are counted fast and matches can get over in a one-sided manner in minutes. On the contrary, games are supposed to be recreational activities for amusement, but foosball can be quite serious when it comes to competition.
Additionally, for those that complain saying that foosball does not challenge the physical capabilities the same way as more intensive sports such as soccer and basketball do, it is necessary to remember that the definition of sport also includes activities that test the skills of the person, and those do not necessarily have to be in the physical domain. 

Hence, due to their competitive nature, significant demands from the players in terms of their skills and physical prowess, and the possibility for individuals to become professional players who play the game and train/coach others for a living, foosball is most definitely a sport and not just a game. 

Is Foosball a Physical Sport?

When engaging in any physical activity, one of the biggest motivational factors for any person is to know how that activity helps them tone their physique and achieve a fit body. Perhaps people take part in outdoor sports like football, basketball, tennis, etc. because they enjoy those sports, but knowing that those activities help them shed a few extra pounds and achieve an overall younger and leaner look is certainly a bonus to their efforts. 

The case is no different with foosball. While some may argue that it’s a relatively “stationary’ activity as the players only stand in one place and attempt to score goals inside a table, nothing could be further than the truth. 

Will You Burn Calories Playing Foosball?

The basic requirement for initiating the process of burning calories in the human body is to raise the heartbeat rate; this forces the heart to pump more blood and during the same process, the person starts to breath faster in an attempt to intake more oxygen as would be necessary for their heart to keep pumping blood faster. 

Foosball is certainly a sport that does not require the player to run around, but that does not mean or imply that it cannot increase the heartbeat rate of the person. For starters, moving the foosball rods swiftly requires a significant amount of physical effort from the player, and the movements must be swift enough or the foosball men hitting the ball won’t make it go far.

In fact, professional foosball players need to train their bodies intensively to develop heightened levels of stamina and functional strength to ensure that they can transfer the same into their performance once they are at their competition foosball tables. 

Without intensive physical training, it is not possible for an individual to become proficient at foosball, but this is also the case for every other sport that is played. 

So, when you are playing foosball leisurely, you can afford to hit the ball softly and still play the game at a relaxed pace, but when you are playing competitively, there is no way that you can afford to slack. 

Foosball is certainly a fast-paced game compared to other, more relaxed sports such as badminton. Moreover, the game is physically demanding as well. From the technical point of view, the upper body of the person needs to be well-trained, particularly their wrists and arms to apply the necessary force to hit the ball as hard as they can.

How Many Calories do a Game of Foosball Burn? 

The answer is, it depends. Whenever the process of calorie burning comes into discussion, the answer is always that it depends on the physical characteristics of the individual. Much like any other sport or physical activity, the more out of shape a person is, the more effects they shall feel in case they take part in any physical activity.

For the same reason, it is easy for relatively obese people to lose some extra pounds fast, but it could be much harder for a person who is slightly overweight to lose the last few extra pounds that are keeping them from achieving a toned, athletic body.

It would not be fair to give an exact figure for the number of calories burned for, say, per 1 hour of foosball, because it depends on the nature of the game, the physical capabilities of the players, and more. 
Competitive foosball matches tend to be fast-paced and hence end up burning a greater number of calories than casual or informal matches.

For a ballpark figure, an individual who is of average build can expect to lose anywhere between 100 – 250 calories per hour of informal or casual foosball playing. For competitive play, the number of calories might be more, such as up to 350 – 400 calories per hour of gameplay. 

Once again, it is necessary to note that those figures can vary (sometimes greatly) depending on the height and weight of the person engaging in the sport. Nevertheless, there is no denying that foosball as a sport can help train your upper body, especially forearms and arms. 

If you plan to play foosball for their health benefits alone, it may be better to simply look for some other activity that you would enjoy more doing. 

However, for those of you that enjoy foosball, have confidence in yourself and know that it’s an actual sport. Keep practicing your skills at foosball, and it will not let you down!