If you’re reading this article, it’s because you’ve come across this amazing game that you’re interested in learning more about. What is foosball? This fantastic indoor game is great for anyone looking to unwind or enjoy some fun time with friends and family. Even though foosball has only started to grow in popularity recently, it has been around for over a century.
Although foosball can be really interesting and engaging for newbies, the rules of the game and gameplay can get you confused. If you stick around long enough, we’ll clear up all your confusion by providing answers to any questions that you have about foosball.
Foosball game is an indoor parlor sport that you can play against another player or in teams of two. This table game can be considered a mix of soccer and football. You can play the game on a table with two goals. Like in a regular soccer match, the aim of foosball is to score against your opponent. The game field has two goalposts facing each other (one for each player or team). A player or team wins by scoring five times against their opponent.
Along with the goal posts, the tabletop game features eight rods, split between the two teams (four for each team).
- Rod 1 has a goalie
- Rod 2 has two defending players
- Rod 3 has five players in the middle court
- Rod 4 has three attacking players
The general focus of the players is to push the ball forward and force it into the opponent’s goal. You also aim to prevent the opponent from scoring on your goal post. The ball is small, about the size of a ping pong ball. However, it is much heavier to ensure that it doesn’t fly off into the air. Although foosball was originally only a game for having fun, it has grown into a professional sport with tournaments held in various countries.
What Is A Proper Foosball Table Layout?
A proper foosball table layout mimics a soccer field when observed from above. It has goal zones and lines, which help you determine the distance and get a sense of perspective while playing. The game is set up in a 2 – 5 – 3 formation, excluding the goalie. The players are usually made of plastic or wood and attached to the rods above the playing field.
Despite being close to the field, the players’ feet do not touch the foosball table. They hover above just enough to be able to move the ball across the playing field. You can move the players horizontally and diagonally when defending or attacking. Pass and shot power are determined by the speed at which you rotate the rods.
You play foosball using the rods. Players have to stand on either side of the foosball table and control the four rods. Moving and rotating the rods allows you to control the wooden or plastic players attached to them. The rods and the players allow you to control the ball and hit it toward the opponent’s goal.
Note: Two of these rods are meant for offensive play, while the other two are used for defense.
The Foosball Ball
The foosball ball is big enough to be kicked around by the men on the rods. The ball is spherical and resembles a mini soccer ball. While all foosball tables come with a ball, some balls are made of poor quality materials. The best foosball balls are made from either cork or plastic.
Pro Tip: Ideally, you’d want a ball with more weight, so it doesn’t fly off the table frequently.
The Foosball Objective
Now that we understand the most important elements of a foosball table, let’s proceed by discussing the objective of the game. Your main objective in a foosball match would be to get the ball into your opponent’s goal. You win the game by scoring five times on your opponent. Participants can determine the winner of a foosball match by the best two out of three games or three out of five games.
While playing, you’ll try to keep the ball in your possession with short flicks and advance it until you’re able to shoot at your opponent’s goal. To become a good player, you have to learn how to use multiple rods simultaneously.
You can play foosball against an opposing player. Players stand at their own end of the foosball table, trying to move the ball around the playing surface. However, you can make the game more fun by playing in teams. Two people play on each team, with one player controlling two rods.
Tip: Playing foosball with a partner allows you to concentrate on fewer elements of the game, making it easier for beginners.
Foosball seems pretty easy until it’s time to play. Most beginners believe that it’s all about spinning the rod until you hit the ball into the opponent’s goal. However, this game comes with its fair share of rules. It’s worth noting that the rules differ when playing a professional table football match and a friendly match at home. The rules for professional tournaments are often sterner.
Since you may be playing against experienced players, one of the most important things to note is to rely on skill and strategy rather than force. This means that instead of just rotating the rod in the hope that you hit the ball into the opponent’s goal, you have to keep the players standing. The International Table Soccer Federation states that the rod cannot rotate more than 360 degrees.
Other rules to follow in professional matches include:
- No jarring or lifting of the table is allowed.
- Players must maintain control of the rod at all times.
- No cursing or talking is allowed.
- Foosball players can only possess the ball for a limited amount of time.
Obviously, most of these foosball rules do not apply to friendly games at home. Feel free to play by only those rules that you’re comfortable with.
Foosball Attack And Defense Strategies
Since foosball rules don’t allow spinning, you can’t just keep spinning the players without a strategy. To be a successful foosball player, you have to use a variety of tactics and strategies to win. There are some pretty easy tricks that you can pull on your opponent and the best part is that you don’t have to be a pro to learn them.
Let’s go over some attacking and defensive strategies for foosball.
- Attacking – The snake shot is one of the most important attacking tricks in foosball. The point is to hit the ball fast without spinning the rod. You can execute the snake shot by holding the rod with the player that has the ball. Pull your hand swiftly until your palm touches the handle. The power causes the foosball player to move fast without making a full circle.
- Defending – The strategy for defending on a foosball table is simple. You have to move your players frequently. Leaving them in a stationary position makes it easier for the opponent to score.
Foosball History – Who Invented Foosball?
No one knows for sure who invented foosball. While there are claims from various people regarding the invention of the game, it is widely believed that foosball was invented in three European countries simultaneously. Between 1923 and 1937, various versions of this fun game were played in the United Kingdom, Spain and France.
Harold Searles Thornton registered the first patent for a foosball table in 1923 under the number 205 991. His table shares a lot of similarities with most modern foosball tables. There are also claims that the game was invented by Lucien Rosengart, who wanted to create something for his grandchildren to play.
Note: Alejandro Finisterre also claims to have invented a foosball table and patented it in 1937. However, there is no official confirmation of his statements.
Check out our blog post to learn more about who invented foosball.
Foosball Table Evolution
The prototype of a foosball table was made by Harold Searles Thorton from a match box. Eventually, he made the first table from wood, with steel rods and players on the field. However, the game didn’t feature any special additions. Over the years, the design of foosball tables has only been slightly modified but the performance has been optimized immensely.
Foosball still has the same number of players. However, modern tables now feature counterbalanced players, stress-resistant cabinets and side bumps. Also, games now come with high-performance steel rods for easy control.
Even though foosball is commonly played as a game among friends, some players take it as a profession. There are various foosball championships all over the world in which professional players compete. In most cases, players start competing in state and continental tournaments, with the winners eventually proceeding to the World Championships.
Regular competitions are played on endorsed foosball tables, with players following strict rules. The ITSF approves the tables to be used in these competitions. So far, the ITSF has chosen five brands to produce foosball tables for tournaments. The five brands are:
- Roberto Sport
Enhance your gaming experience by finding the best foosball table in our blog post.
Top Foosball Tips And Tricks
Whether you’re playing casually or participating in a tournament, it’s unlikely that you’ll be happy with losing. Here are some foosball tips and tricks to help you on your way to victory:
- Don’t spin – Even though spinning the rod seems like an easy way to play shots, it is wrong. Spinning shots and passes aren’t accurate and they leave your goal exposed.
- Have a relaxed grip – Avoid holding the rod too tight. Having a tight grip constricts your movement and slows down your response time. Instead, ensure that your knuckles are on top and your thumb is wrapped loosely around the handle.
- Have your players angled – Having your foosball players slightly inclined allows you to receive a shot easily.
- Vary movements – Most beginners tend to move their rod in a particular pattern, but doing so makes you predictable. Varying your movements makes your defense more compact and confuses your opponent.
Foosball doesn’t have to be limited to your game room. Are you looking to play foosball in your living room? Check out the best foosball coffee tables suitable for games at home.
Frequently Asked Questions
The game foosball is an indoor parlor sport. You can play this fun game against an opponent or in a group with two players on each team. Foosball is played on a tabletop playing field with two goals. The aim of the game is to be the first team to score five times against your opponent.
You play foosball by moving and turning the rods at the side of the table. The rods give you control over the players on the game field. Foosball has defensive and offensive players, as well as a goalie. The defensive players help you avoid conceding, while the offensive players aim to help you score on your opponent.
No, soccer is not called foosball. However, foosball is often called table soccer by many Americans. This is because the game shares a lot of similarities with professional soccer, especially in player setup and gameplay. In general, Europeans call it foosball or table football, with the name varying across regions of the continent.
If you followed through, you now have the answer to your question – “What is foosball?” We have revealed all the essential features of the game and even provided some tips and tricks that can help you become a better player. So what’s holding you back? Find a suitable foosball table for your game room and enjoy this entertaining sport with friends.