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Foosball For Dummies

New to the game of Foosball or Tbale Soccer? Here is out guide for the complete beginner, start your Foosball Education here

Foosball For Dummies

As a beginner, you might want to know all the basics of playing foosball.

• What is the game all about?
• What are the basic foosball rules and mechanics?
• How do I start playing foosball?
• What’s the pointing system of this game?

There are a lot of things to learn from foosball before you get started. Absorb the basics first and then apply it when you start to play

Basic Game Objectives

The aim of foosball is to score a point by getting the ball into the opponent’s goal, just like in real football or Soccer. Each side has 4 rods on a standard table (total of 8 rods) that control the Foosball Players.

Standard Tables come with either one or three goalies, each team has a total of 11 or 13 men, depending on the goalie setup.

Foosball teams are in 2 different colors. Each game is usually a race to 5 points (5 goals). There are sometimes 3-set matches and 5-set matches. In a 3-set game, you have to win two sets, and in a 5-set event, you have to win three sets.

Basic Game Rules

Starting The Game

Just like other sports, foosball usually begins with a tossed coin. If it isn’t the first game, let’s say that the ball stops and is out of play (called a dead ball). When the ball is acknowledged as dead, between the goal and two-man rods, it is placed in the corner nearest the spot of the dead ball and released; the slope should bring it back into play

If the ball is acknowledged as dead past the two-man rods, it is re-served by the person who formerly served that ball.

Playing The Game

Beginners mostly play a casual game. Players should decide first on how many matches they will play; it does not have to be five. The Winner is the one who wins the most games, so the number of games to be played must be odd – to stop the possibility of a draw

The person who loses a point (has a goal scored against them), is the next to serve

Touching the ball while in play is prohibited. You’re only allowed to touch the ball when it’s declared as a “Dead Ball.”

Spinning the rods is not allowed; it also stops you from becoming a great player.

Shaking, moving or banging the foosball table to make a dead ball move is not allowed. Maybe you’ve done that to the machines in an arcade to cheat. Doing that on a foosball table will award a penalty against you

You’re not allowed to distract your opponent unless your match is only for fun. Do not put lousy gamesmanship or any negative sportsmanship into practice.


Any legal move of the ball that goes into the goal is awarded a point. As I have said, whoever wins the most of the sets is the winner.

Gripping The Handle

A proper and improper way of grip may affect the speed and accuracy of your shots. As you play an intense game, you tend to hold the handle too tightly unconsciously. That’s a common mistake of a beginner; you might injure yourself and have less control of the players. Keep in mind that you have to relax your hands and wrists to keep you focused and play the game well.

Two Main Types Of Grip:

The Traditional Shot Grip

This grip gives the right amount of flexibility. This grip is used for simple shots like Pull Shot, Push Shot, Spray Shot, and Tic-tac Shot. Hold the handle with your index finger wrapped around the top of the handle, and you’re thumb curled with a minimal gap from your index finger. The indication that you are gripping too tight is the skin between your thumb and index finger being fully stretched. If it is, a player is using too much pressure gripping the handle.

The Open Handed Grip

This grip is used for more advanced shots like Snake Shot (Rollover Shot). The hand should be in the open position, the bottom of your hand and wrist touching the handle. Pull your hands upwards so that it makes an upward sliding motion, which will cause the figure to make a nearly full rotation before hitting the ball. Beginners are advised to use the Traditional Grip. The Open Handed grip is more complicated to use, but it’s cool when you learn how to do it right.

Tips To Improve Your Grip

How can I have a better grip on the handles? The most common method used to improve a player’s grip is the Foosball Handle Wrap. It’s a little tricky to put on your handle to begin with, but easy to use because it is made of rubber or special nonslip plastic, and as we all know these materials are not slippery.

Other things that could improve your grip are Foosball Gloves and Tubes. These give you enough amount of grip to hold the handle firmly, especially when your hands get sweaty. Just make should you buy top quality items, so as you are comfortable, these items are not expensive so there is no need to scrimp!

Foosball Serving Tips

Serving is an opportunity to gain immediate possession of the ball. Tossing a coin is a common and fair way to know who will serve first. After the first serve, the team who loses the point serves the next ball. If it’s your turn to serve the ball, the most common move that players do is to serve the ball to your own 5-man midfielder rod. It’s a little tricky, but it is legal. This involves spinning the ball, so it goes to your players. It is relatively easy after a bit of practice

Foosball Shooting Tips

To better execute a shot, keep a loose grip on the rods, you will have greater control. Also, you will need to be able to quickly and easily grab other rods. It’s easier to maintain speed and focus this way, especially when making quick changes. Once you have the perfect grip, you will start to shoot with your optimal pace. They say that the key to a good shot is all in the wrist. Being able to turn it about 180 degrees will give you a good shot speed.

Basic Offense

Always make sure that your men are in the right position, having the right angle to receive and hit the ball back. The objective is to move the ball through your opponent’s 5-bar to your offensive 3-bar.

Foosball Shot Tips

There are many types of shots that if done correctly, will make you hard to beat. I know that you would want to learn all the shots, but I suggest that you practice one at a time until you master it. It’s better to start with the easier and most natural shots. Practice shots level by level. Most of the great professional players perfect just one or two shots

The Pull Shot

The Pull Shot is one of the well-known for its simplicity and power. If this shot is done correctly, the opponent will be at a distinct disadvantage.

Setting Up The Pull Shot

The first thing to do is to find the best stance and grip, a position where you are most comfortable. Position your hand relatively flat on the handle.

Executing The Pull Shot

The Pull Shot is simple. Just pull the ball towards you and kick it towards the goal with a quick flick. This is a quite long shot. What if the opponent predicted your move? Moves are being predicted because of your preparation gestures. Find a gap where the ball can pass through, and you can shorten the pull shot. Practice slowly at first. There are a lot of YouTube videos that you can watch showing you how to do this shot. Once you understand and can do this, then you can practice doing it much faster

The Push Shot

The opposite of Pull Shot. Push the bar and then do a quick flick with your wrist. This shot is not often used because it is considered to be straightforward to defend against. Not usually a recommended a shot but still good to learn. Maybe you can develop a strategy where you can use this shot as part of a combination.

Tic-Tac Pull Shot

The Tic-Tac Pull Shot’s main idea is to trick the defense by making them think that you are just passing the ball. Making them confused about what the next move will be, so it’s a simple way to surprise your opponent. Do this by hitting the ball back and forth to the players on the same rod, and then make a quick shot.

Bank Shot

The Bank Shop is primarily taken from the defense side of the table. It requires you to bounce the ball off either wall, towards the goal. But make sure that you have the right angle because you don’t want to waste a shot on target.

Setting Up The Bank Shot

The best spot for a bank shot is to hit the ball from the outside edges of your goal. That way it’ll be harder for the opponent to predict the angle correctly.

Executing The Bank Shot

When doing the Bank Shot, you should always hit the ball at an angle. How do you make an angled shot? Hitting the ball straight down makes a lateral movement; this is not what you want. To make an angled shot, you must kick the ball with the side of the foosball figure’s foot (could be left or right side). You should have a good estimation or measuring skill to make an accurate bank shot. This shot requires a great quality foot with a square design.

The Spray Shot

The Spray Shot is another variation of Push and Pull Shots. The only difference is you kick the ball diagonally on an angle; the spray could either be left or right.

The Snake Shot

A Snake Shot is an advanced shot. It’s also called the Rollover Shot because you need to roll your wrist (it’s an open-handed shot) up to the rod to execute it.

Setting Up The Snake Shot

The Snake Shot is usually done with the Middle man on the 3-man bar. First, pass the ball from the side to the middle offensive man, pinning it under. How do you pin it under? Tilt the man (of course using the rod) just a little so that the ball strikes it on the toe. One’s the middle man has the ball. Practice moving and rocking the ball, setting up the shot is much more complicated than the execution. Don’t focus on using the man to hit the ball; concentrate on moving the ball into shooting position.

Executing The Snake Shot

The Snake shot happens to be complicated because it largely depends on proper setup. The execution itself is effortless, merely roll your wrist counter-clockwise up the rod handle, bringing the middle man around using full force. Note: Make sure that the rod is well lubricated for a natural spin. Also use a foosball handle wrap for a better grip, since Snake Shot is an open-handed shot that uses the wrist.

Foosball Passing Techniques

Tic-Tac Passing

How to do a Tic-Tac Pass? Just pass the ball back and forth on the same rod with a rapid motion to stop your opponent from reading where you want to put your ball. If you think you have the correct position and timing, kick the ball towards the 3-bar.

The Brush Pass

The Brush Pass is a diagonal pass and usually uses the 5-bar by tilting the man back, so you are barely brushing the ball against the table to move it side to side. Brush the ball to another man on the same rod until you find a gap and perfect timing to pass it to your 3-bar.

Basic Defense

Do not tilt your defensive men so much that the ball won’t slide under the toe. The idea is to tilt your defensive bars so that your men are angled inwards towards one another. Leaving your men straight up and down vertically will allow more shots to score on your defense at an angle.

Vertical Alignment

Set-up your two defending rods so that the players are not upright, but are slightly angled towards each other. The first row (3 player goalie line) players feet will be at 7 o’clock and the second row (2 players) players feet will be at 5 o’clock so that the two rows of players form a V shape. The V angle should not be so high that the ball can pass under the player’s feet.


You will want to keep moving your player’s side to side, but staggering them in such a way that they are defending the maximum space. Never have players on both defensive rods in-line with each other covering the same area. Always ensure a player from the two player rod never crosses the central goal line. If you do, you will have two players on one side leaving the side exposed for attack.

Basic Game Play Tips

1. Don’t Spin. Spinning the rods is illegal and may damage the table and warp the rods.
2. Relax and maintain a good grip. Holding the handle too tight won’t help you. It only harms you instead, and may hinder you from moving and changing rods quickly.
3. Watch your stance; It’s easy to move freely if you’re in an open stance.
4. Serve to yourself (using a serving cup). Serves should be fair, but there’s a trick to help yourself. Place the ball on the top left edge of the serving cup. Release the ball slowly, so it spirals along the right side and the down cup. When it drops, it should roll right towards your 5-man rod. You served to yourself! (If you’ve done it correctly)
5. Serve with backspin. To apply a backspin serve, place your thumb on the left side of the ball. Push down on the ball as you push it to the right side and through the hole. The ball then, should stop and roll backward towards your 5-bar when it hits the surface
6. Pin the ball. Pinning the ball is a great way to gain ball control while planning your next move.
7. Watch your opponent’s men. This will allow you to spot gaps in their formation, and may show you a line to advance the ball forward. Watch for a clear path and don’t miss the opportunity.
8. Keep your players angled and ready. If your forward players are on the right angle, they are in a much better position to receive and hold the ball.
9. Wall Pass, a wall pass is a great way to pass the ball to your 3-man rod.
10. Wall bounce pass, Make your opponent think that you’re doing the wall pass again. Quickly move the ball to your forward instead of bouncing it back to the 2nd man in the 5-man rod.
11. Dribble with your goalie; It’s a way to create some space if your opponent is continually blocking your shots.
12. Master one shot, Find a single shot that works for you and stick with it.
13. Use the push shot or pull shot. It’s a very effective way to score.
14. Keep your goalie and defense in sync, When playing defense, your goalie and the 2-man rod should be played as a single unit. You can use them in tandem to close the gaps and cut off angles.
15. Block, Every time your opponent tries to shoot, slide your 2-man rod directly in front of them and block the shot. Just be careful not to be faked out.
16. Shoot from the defense; The 2-man defense can be a great place to shoot from. These shots are hard to read and can be very useful.
17. Put all your players in coordination, Use all your players to work together

Knowing The Basic Rules

Below are the important rules of foosball:
1. A coin toss is done as a way of deciding who will be the one to serve first.
2. Whenever the ball is out of the play, it can reenter using a hole (throw-in) located between the lines of midfield
3. The ball can be kicked in only after both players have declared their readiness to commit to the match.
4. It is forbidden to “spin” the control handle more than 360 degrees both before and after directly touching the ball. For such action is assigned a foul.
5. If the ball comes off the table or stopped in the middle of the play and became out of reach of any foosball figures, it is considered as a Dead Ball. It can be moved to the nearest player or the be served by the player who served last.
6. It is forbidden to block the control rods on which the figures are placed, act directly on the table (shake, raise, tilt, etc.) For an unintentional violation, a foul is awarded, for a deliberate one – a goal.
7. Any team has the right to take a thirty-second timeout or swap players, if this is a doubles match.
8. If the ball falls outside the field, it is entered into the game through the midfield line by the team that last served.
9. Players must change places after each game until the end of the match.
10. In any paired competitions, each player can play only those foosball players that are intended for this position (either the goalkeeper and the 1st line, or the 2nd and 3rd lines). After the introduction of the ball into the game, players cannot change positions until the match is stopped: either the ball is scored, or a timeout is declared, or the ball will leave the field, or the ball will be in the dead zone.
11. “Dead Zone” – the situation when the ball stops its movement, and none of the players can touch it. If such a situation arises on the midfield line, the ball is thrown in as if the first entry was made by the team that started the game last


If you require more information, please check these references

arstechnica.com , article, “Viewtopic Php”, retrieved on, Tue 28-May-2019 

britfoos.com , article, “Beginners Guide “, retrieved on, Tue 28-May-2019 

www.tablesoccer.org , article,“Forums”, retrieved on, Tue 28-May-2019

Author: Nick

is a Computer programmer with 25 years experience working in the Industry. Mainly using Microsoft products I have produced systems for several blue chip companies including The BBC, Natwest, British Rail.and Torbay Council.

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