You are most probably reading this because you want to learn how to play foosball, or you have a little knowledge about the game and want to enhance your skills, or maybe you are just bored and decided to surf the net and landed here.
Whatever the reason, we are quite sure that by the end of this article you are going to have a good idea about the game of foosball and maybe even want to try it out if you haven’t already.
Now, first things first, what is foosball? The easiest answer would be: Foosball is table soccer/football. Next question, how do you play it? Let us tell you how.
Foosball is played on a table with 8 rods that have little men (players) fixed on them that you move to make them kick the ball in to the goal post. This game can be played between two or more people and is similar to field soccer/football, but played on a table with plastic or metal men.
Although it is termed as a ‘game’ it is no less than a sport that requires skills and years of practice to master. Advanced players who play at tournaments will tell you about the seriousness and skill levels needed in order to compete against the best players in this game.
But the good news is that every professional player was once a newbie and they too had to learn the game from scratch. Let us now dig in to this popular game and find out how it is played.
What are the things required to start playing foosball?
A foosball table: It is obvious you need to have a foosball table to play the game. You could play at clubs, although it would be better to buy a foosball table if you want to practice more often in the comfort of your own home.
An opponent: You can practice the basic movements on your own but you can never improve your skills until and unless you play against others. It is best to play against skilled players so you can learn from them more practically.
Foosball techniques, strategies and tips: The more you know about the game the better and faster you will learn to play.
Type of Games:
Singles: This is played between two people, where one player plays against another single player.
Doubles: This is played with a team of two players against two other opponents.
Goalie War: This is also played between two players (goalie VS goalie) without the use of mid-positioned players.
Before you begin to play, you must be in a comfortable position. Find out what works best for you to move about freely and score easily. There are no strict rules when it comes to the stance but it is a good idea to angle your body in such a way that your less dominant side is closer to the table and your dominant arm is further away so that you can move it freely while griping the rods to push and pull them in and out.
If you stand facing straight to the table then your elbow will hit your side whenever you stick your arm out straight and pull it back in, but standing in an angular position allows you to pull back a rod without your elbow brushing against your side.
Never grip the handle too tight. If there is no space between the flesh of your index finger and your thumb and the handle then you are gripping too tight. You may feel like holding the handle tight will give you better control, but in reality it will only restrict your movement.
Things may get aggressive in field soccer but in foosball it is all about control with elegance. Gripping the handles lightly will allow you to move the rods with speed and smoothness.
Start your game:
So now that you are in a comfortable position and have a good grip on the handle, your main aim is to pass the ball through the men and put the ball in your opponent’s goal post, while keeping your opponent from doing the same.
As per rule, you can place the ball on either side of the middle man and shout ‘Start’ or ‘Go’ or whatever you decide on to indicate the start of the game.
Do Not Spin The Rods
Many beginners like to spin the rods in order to hit the ball faster and with very little effort but it is NOT recommended and to some extent ‘illegal’ in foosball.
You may miss the ball and score less but by practicing what we call a ‘wrist-flick’, you can accurately hit the ball more often and score more. Spin-shots are very easy to block and your opponent will earn an upper hand in the game if you stick to them.
In order to have a better control over the game you need to learn the wrist-flick and also how to aim your ball with precision.
Practice this move by placing the ball by the front three-man rod in the center. Lift the opponent’s rods so you have a clear shot of the goal.
Now hit the ball hard straight in to the goal using your middle man without pushing or pulling the rod. But you must do this in the following manner:
-Stand in the correct posture and grip on to the handle but concentrating ONLY on your WRIST.
-Imagine your arm and hands are non-existing while you ‘throw’ your wrist as hard as possible towards the ground causing your wrist to snap downwards.
-As your hand is gripped around the handle, the movement comes to a halt as your wrist locks quickly.
Scoring or passing the ball using this technique is known as the ‘wrist-flick’.
Aiming using the wrist flick:
When practicing to aim, concentrate on having more control than speed. Place the ball once again by the three man rod in the center. Make sure the goal is undefended by lifting all the opponent’s rods that come in your way. First hit the ball (wrist-flick) straight in to the goal.
Notice how it travels in a straight line into the goal. Now change the rod’s position so that when you hit the ball your man touches the left side of the ball, not the middle. As soon as you hit the left side of the ball, you will notice how it angles towards the right and does not travel straight.
In this way you can practice angling your shots from different positions and make your way towards the goal. Practice this using all the men on your five-man rod. The more you apply this technique the easier it will become for you to know and play your angles.
This technique requires some skills and we wouldn’t recommend it to beginners. Once you have mastered the close-handed shots and achieved good control over passing and aiming then you can learn the open-handed technique.
As we mentioned earlier, you must never spin the rod and as an amateur you may confuse the open-handed technique with spinning. In this technique, the man should lean forward with the front of its toe fastening the middle of the ball against the table.
Once the ball is in position, you must switch from a closed grip to an open-handed grip by allowing your wrist and the bottom part of your hand to touch the handle and slide your hand in an upward movement rotating your man almost (not a full spin) to a 360 degree turn before reaching the ball again. Since you won’t be rotating your man to a complete 360 degree turn, it will be considered a legal shot.
So basically you rotate your man and bring it back in contact with the ball to hit it with great strength and speed.
Remember you cannot block a shot from your opponent if your men are in the air. So spinning should be avoided again in order to be able to defend correctly. Once you block a ball do not try to shoot it immediately, stop it first before you aim to hit it again.
It might all seem very fast and you may feel like shooting as soon as you get hold of the ball but that might result in you losing the ball if your opponent is quicker than you. You must make sure that angled shots from your opponent are also guarded along with the straight shots because your opponent can score from any angle.
If you notice your middle goalie and one man on the two man rod behind each other then you have just placed two men in the same defending position which is useless. Expect shots from every angle and try to block most of the possible lines to your goal.
In the case of you shooting from the defensive area, take your time to lift up your 5-bar 3-bar so you don’t prevent your own shot. In doubles your partner can take care of lifting the rods while you aim.
Passing: You can use the brush pass by leaning your man back to lightly brush the ball on the table to move it from side to side on the 5-rod. You move the ball to another man on the 5-rod and then pass it up to your 3-rod.
The Tic-Tac pass is a little different where you don’t tilt your man but just move the ball quickly back and forth so as to confuse your opponent and pass the ball forward to the 3-rod in the right moment. You must also practice passing the ball along the same bar without losing the ball to your opponent.
Catching: For you to successfully catch the ball, you must learn to get your man to stop the ball with finesse so that it does not bounce off and roll over to your opponent’s side.
Tilt your man to an angle that will catch the ball but not give it enough space to pass through under. Leaving your man straight down will cause the ball to hit it and move away.
Strategies to Score:
Serve yourself the ball: If you are serving the ball at every starting point of the game then add a bit of spin on the ball before dropping it in the table hole in such a way that it does not roll to your opponent and instead rolls to your 5-rod. If you master this technique you will be able to pass it immediately from the serve. You can then pass it from the 5 rod to the 3 rod to attempt a shot.
Pass the ball from 5-rod to 3 rod: Always remember that is it easier to score from the 3 rod as there is less defensive from the opponent in your way. It is important to enhance your skills of passing the ball from the 5 rod to the 3 rod and aiming from the 3 rod where the distance between the rod and the goal is much less, making it difficult for your opponent to block you.
Follow the ball: Keep an eye on the ball always and try to follow it with your men at all times. If follow the ball accurately then you increase your chances of blocking shots and taking control of the ball. Constantly move your men if you want to follow the ball and stop your opponent from scoring.
Play against skilled players: If you want to be the best then you must learn from the best. Losing a challenging game will help you learn better than winning an easy game.
The best advice that we could give anyone wanting to learn the game is to practice, practice and practice more. Nothing can help one to get better than actually playing the game often and learning to put the techniques to use.
If you really want to play foosball then invest in a good quality foosball table and enjoy the game with your friends and family.
This is James, Foosball multi award winner. I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable foosball table gaming experience.