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Are You Ready for Some Foosball?

Learn the history and rules of Foosball, as well as strategies for playing it.

Are You Ready for Some Foosball?

It's in the Cards

Foosball originated in Germany and the word is actually a derivation of the German word "Fussball," meaning "football" in German.

Most of the world refers to the game of Soccer as “football,” which is what Foosball is—Soccer played with miniature players, controlled by hand-rods, on a table. No one really knows when Foosball hit the European scene, but since the real game of Soccer became an organized sport in about 1860, it is assumed that Foosball is a little younger than its predecessor.

One of the oldest manufacturers of Foosball is a Swiss company called Kicker. They also used the same name for their table. This is what most Europeans call Foosball: “Kicker.” So, Kicker is to most of Europe what Foosball is to North America.

Winning Plays

Did you know that Foosball players refer to themselves as “Foosers?”


Like Air Hockey, Foosball is played on a table, and the object of the game is to keep your opponent's ball out of your goal and vice-versa. The table is deep set, and inside, running along metal bars, are rows of plastic players of opposing teams, dressed in Soccer uniforms. If you follow the metal bars to the ends of the tables, you will see that the bars extend through the sides of the table to the outside where handles are connected. The players stand on either side of the table and turn the handles to move the players.

Full-size foosball tables range in price from about $250 to $1,000. If you are buying a starter table or a table for kids, it's best to buy one of the lower-range tables. If you really want to start playing and maybe even get into tournaments, you should probably buy a table in the $400-$500 range. You will, of course, need a good-size room to fit the table. Table dimensions are 56” long by 30” wide. The rods stick out on the sides, so you will need at least a seven- to eight-foot space.

Three Strikes

Don't put the foosball table in a room where little children play. You could put an eye out!

Let's Play!

For many of us, Foosball was another basement game—good for a rainy Sunday afternoon. But for even more people, Foosball is addictive and good fun. It is also taken very seriously in the world of professional table games. It's a game that requires quick reflexes and control. In this game, it's not so easy to keep your eye on the ball when you also have to juggle so many players.

Foosball begins with the serve. To determine who gets the ball first, a coin flip is the best way to go. Whoever wins the coin toss gets the ball and may place it in play. Most foosball tables have a duct on either side of the table. All you have to do is drop the ball into the duct and it will roll onto the table and play begins. Some of the older tables may not have a duct, in which case you may drop the ball onto the table, but this is the only time your hand may approach the playing area. The ball is in play once the serve is made and the first rod is turned.

If the ball leaves the table, it is returned to the player who initially served the ball. The ball is then put back into play with a new serve.

A “dead ball” is a ball that is on the board, but is not reachable by any players on the rod. If a ball is considered dead between the goal and the two-player rods, it should be put back into play in the corner nearest the spot where it “died.” If the ball “dies” anywhere between the two-player rods, it should be put back into play with a new serve by the team that served the ball in the first place.

It is illegal to deliberately cause a dead ball. If you have a referee and he or she declares this to be true, the player who causes the dead ball will forfeit the ball to the opposing team for a re-serve.

Winning Plays

Did you know that you can play Foosball doubles? In a doubles match, each player may play only two rods and must stick to those two rods until a point is scored or a time-out is called. The players may switch rods between points or games, and during time-outs.

One point is scored when the ball enters the goal. If the ball bounces into the goal but then bounces out again (even if it leaves the table), it is still considered a goal and therefore scores one point.

No more than three time-outs should be called by either side during a game.

One overly used technique you will see in Foosball is “rod spinning.” Most of the professional players do not recommend this action in Foosball, and in fact, it is actually illegal in a professional tournament. Players who use this method usually wind up spinning the rods out of excitement, hoping to get a strong hit of the ball. In actuality, you may wind up missing the ball and damaging the table instead.

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