Everyone has played Foosball at some stage in their life. It is a fun group activity that is usually the center of activity at any party.
No bachelor pad is complete without one, and it is the best way to entertain your friends without having to go out and spend money.
But is that all you need to know before going out to buy one? No.
You’re going to need a bit more information than that.
You are going to need to know the rules, how to play, what to look for when buying a Foosball table and much more. Are you ready?
A Brief History
Foosball is a verily recent game that emerged in the early 20th century in the UK.
The game was brought to the US a few years later, and its popularity peaked in the 1970’s and 80’s.
It is still a very popular game and is played in bars and clubs throughout most of America and Europe.
Foosball is an international sport that is governed by the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF).
Serious Foosball is mainly played in North America and Europe, but the sport has also experienced a surge in popularity in Asia.
The sport has a dedicated following in most countries and continents, with the least growth being experienced in Africa.
Why Play Foosball?
Foosball is quickly becoming more that just a recreational activity.
It has become a serious sport with a group of dedicated athletes who have mastered the game.
There is professional equipment and even tournaments that are hosted regularly.
The success of the game is because it is not as easy as it looks, and it takes skill and strategy to become a champion.
Once you begin taking Foosball seriously, you are opening a whole new world to explore.
But what do you need? How do you play? That’s what we’re going to find out.
What Do You Need?
The first and only thing that you’re going to need is a table, but if you have already figured that out and spent any amount of time looking for one, you’re realizing that there are different types of Foosball tables.
Alright, but which one do you choose? Put simply, you choose the one that suits your needs the best.
We’ll take you on a brief tour of the different types of Foosball tables.
Tabletop Foosball Table:
This type of table looks like an ordinary Foosball table, but it doesn’t have legs.
For this type of table, you’re going to need an elevated space (ideally a table) to put it on. This type of table is ideal for children since it tends to be smaller and lighter.
These are also great if you don’t have a lot of space, since you can set it up and take it down as you need it.
The only drawback is that tabletops aren’t the best quality in the world. They can’t measure up to the tables you will see in tournaments.
Classic Foosball Table:
This is the table you see when someone says “Foosball”.
This is the table that you saw in Joey and Chandler’s apartment, or the one you play on at your favorite bar.
These tables don’t need anything to hold them up, but they do require a lot of space in your game room.
The great thing about classic tables is that you get to choose which kind you want to buy.
You can choose from a variety of brands, and you can choose between indoor and outdoor tables.
This looks exactly like classic tables, but you need cash to play. Obviously, this wouldn’t be the table for your home or entertainment area.
These tables are commonly used in public places where people usually hang out. Do not buy this for your home unless you want to make money off yourself.
Who Can Play?
It’s great if you have an idea of what table you’re going to buy, but the deliberation period isn’t over just yet. You need to ask yourself who is going to play on the table you buy.
Beginner vs Pro
There are tables for every Foosball player, but it stands to reason that you shouldn’t go all out if you have just played a few games before.
To start with, try buying a cheaper model, that isn’t super great, but does the job. This way you can gauge whether you want to play pro or not.
Once you have a serious taste for the game, you can upgrade your table and get something that is suited for professional players.
What to Look for When Buying a Foosball Table:
If you have decided that you want to play Foosball competitively, you will need a table of your own.
To help you find the best table to suit your needs, we have compiled a list to help you get what you need to master your skills.
Your table should be heavy and the side rails should be thick.
The ideal weight is around 200 pounds or more and the rails should be at least 1 ½ inches thick.
Your table will be more durable and stable while you play.
Thinner tables will flake around the goal posts in a year or two, because it will not be able to withstand the wear and tear of competitive Foosball.
Light tables also tend to shift while you’re playing, which means that you will have to level the table regularly, which will become a bit of a pain eventually.
The Foosmen shouldn’t have round, slick toes.
Foosmen with a cross-hatching design on the foot and a pointed toe allow for incredible ball control.
This will allow you to pin the ball down for more advanced shots.
Traditional Foosmen have round, slick toes and don’t allow you to pass the ball to players on the same rod, and aren’t great for shooting bank shots.
Since you need to hit the ball off the side of the table at a sharp angle for it to be effective, bank shots need a sharp edge on the toe.
Counterbalanced or weighted Foosmen
Counterbalanced or counter weighted Foosmen is a feature common among high-end tables.
What it means is that there is a weight in the head of the man which is equivalent to the weight in the toe.
They add a little speed to your shots and allow you to turn the men horizontally without them falling back to a vertical position.
If you have ever played on a table where the men weren’t counterweighted, you will notice an immediate difference.
It is a lot less frustrating and your shots will be much better. Counterweighted or counterbalanced Foosmen is an essential feature.
Wooden handles have an octagonal shape, and provide a better grip. This will allow you to make more skillful shots.
Plastic handles will keep slipping out of your hand, and it is hard to maintain a proper grip on them.
In the heat of the game, you don’t want to have to keep focusing on readjusting your grip, do you?
Adjustable legs are important because they can raise and lower your table.
This makes it easier to level the table, which makes the game more competitive and fair.
From setting up your shots, to scoring a goal, a level playing field is probably one of the most important aspects of the game.
You need a ball that can easily be pinned down against the table or gripped. Balls with a shiny finish or that are made from plastic are never a good idea.
If you pay over $500 for your table, you know that you will be getting quality balls with your purchase. But Foosballs are remarkably easy and cheap to replace.
Side Ball Returns:
This is more of a factor relating to convenience than a necessity. It is a lot simpler to return the ball from the side of the table than to constantly have to return it from the end.
The Best Foosball Table Brands:
If you are looking for a table, you need to decide what you want and what you’re willing to buy.
If you want the highest quality, the best value for your money or a budget buy. It doesn’t matter which one you want, we have a list of the best brands in each category.
This is the category for you if you want to save money, but you don’t want to save so much money that your table breaks after the first few hours of playing with the thing.
Atomic Pro Force
This is one of the best tables that you will be able to get for under $300.
It looks like you paid more money than you did, which is always a bonus, but it also weighs more than 100 pounds, which is unusual for the price.
It is a stable and full-sized table, making it a rare acquisition for so cheap.
This is an attractive table, which doesn’t weigh as much as the Atomic Pro Force, but has delightfully smooth rods.
This is a feature usually reserved for high-end tables so it is something to consider.
This is one of the cheapest tables that is worth buying. At less than $160 it weighs 63 pounds, and is a great table for your kids to play with.
Value for Money:
You’re here because you don’t want to spend the rest of your life working off your Foosball table debt, but still want a high-quality table, and you’re willing to shave off a few high-end features to get what you want.
One of the only tables under $500 that features counterweighted men. It weighs a bit more than other competitors, making it a worthwhile buy.
This brand manufactures in the USA, making it a quality table.
It also features counterweighted men, and is available in three different finishes with two different sets of men. Not bad.
This table weighs 170 pounds, has a ¾’ playfield and is a sturdy table worth every penny.
This is the brand’s most popular model, and there are a few reasons for this.
It is 148 pounds, can be adjusted for a 1 or 3 goalie set-up, comes with counterweighted men and comes with a lifetime manufacturer warranty.
The only slight disadvantage is that the front ball return is set on each end of the table.
You’re here because you are a champion, and you need the best table on the market, no matter the price.
Fear not, we’ve got you covered. We will only be looking at tables from Tornado, which only has 4 available brands that each cost over $1,000.
But they are the best quality tables you will be able to find.
This is the ‘entry-level’ table. It costs a little over $1,00 and features a thick Mahogany Melamine finish and weighs a desirable 200 pounds.
This table is ideal for beginners and intermediate players.
This model has a black leather laminate finish and weighs 225 pounds. It has counterweighted players and is an excellent table for advanced players.
This table is massive, and heavy, but it is such a joy to play on.
Tis model is similar to the classic, but it features commercial quality rods. It also features a Victorian Cherry Laminate finish.
If looks and rods matter to you, then it is worth the $150 price difference.
This table is the best of the best. It weighs about 355 pounds, and was built to last an entire lifetime.
It has an incredible stainless-steel laminate, a split cabinet design, counterweighted men and mechanical bearings for the smoothest play you’ve ever experienced.
This is one of the best on the market, and it is doubtful that you will find a better table.
The objective of the game is to maneuver your 4 rods (with 13 players) to drive the ball into the goal post.
Sounds easy, right? No. You also need to prevent your opponents from doing the same thing. The game is one by the first player/team to reach 5 points.
There are also different types of games you can play and become good at.
You can play a singles game, doubles, or even different variations such as the goalie wars, where on player tries to score, but the opponent uses only the goalie rods.
If you’re seriously considering playing professionally, you can’t just wing it anymore, you need to know the rules.
There are quite a few of them, but aside from “No spinning” and no unsportsmanlike conduct, the rules govern the pace and what to do during special circumstances.
The rules are there to make sure that everyone adheres to the game and that the winner will be determined by skill not luck.
At beginner games, it is common for an official to oversee the game and make sure that the rules are being obeyed, but professional games will rarely need an official, since it is accepted that both parties already know the game.
It doesn’t matter what game you decide to play on your Foosball table, you should know that spinning is never allowed.
Spinning is defined as “the rotation of any soccer figure more than 360 degrees before or more than 360 degrees after striking the ball” by the ITSF.
There is no official reason why spinning is illegal, but we can come up with a few valid reasons.
Spinning turns the game into a joke, because there is no more skill involved and it turns the game into one of chance.
It is a temptation to spin the figures in the hopes that it somehow will smash the ball into the goal.
This is what beginners do, so don’t fall into that trap. Foosball is a game for control, wit and tricks, not spinning the figures like crazy in the off chance that it will work.
Starting the Game- Service
To determine who will serve first, there is a coin toss. The server can then put the ball through the service hole in the middle of the table’s side hole.
The server is in fact allowed to spin the ball through the hole to influence the entry of the ball.
Restart serves will be done by the player who has been scored against.
It is also worth mentioning that the server must ask the opposing player if they are ready before they put the ball into play.
The game is won when one side reaches five points, or when one side reaches 3 out of 5.
If the ball enters the goal, but bounces back to the playing surface or leaves the table, it is still counted as a goal.
When a player accidentally hits the ball into his own goal, the point goes to the opposition.
If you plan on using the USTSA service rules, then the ball must be touched by a player for the goal to be valid.
It is not a goal if the ball goes straight into the goal from the service.
Dead Ball Situations:
If the ball is accidentally hit into a place where none of the players can reach it, then a player may reach into the field and the game will restart.
Otherwise, you may not reach into the field under any circumstances. Moving or lifting the table is also strictly forbidden.
To win a game, you are going to need to develop certain skills.
The main skills are passing the ball between your Foosmen, defending against shooting or passing and shooting the ball into the goal.
You can master a few of these skills on your own, such as shooting and passing. But some skills will need to be practiced with a partner, such as defense.
If you want to improve your skills the most, then try playing against different players, this will not only improve your skills, but also get you ready for competitions.
Recreational and Competitive Foosball:
You may not know it, but there are many competitive Foosball leagues in almost every town in America and Europe.
These leagues and clubs will sometimes get involved in tournaments and you can become a competitive Foosball player.
Many people have had the honor of being professional players, and have greatly enjoyed the experience.
If you want to play competitively, you can look out for any clubs or leagues in your area, they would be happy to have you!
If you don’t want to play competitively, you could just stick to playing in bars, or even at home.
There is no pressure, but you might start nurturing professional aspirations once the Foosball bug gets you.
Tournaments require a lot of skill and determination.
It will take you a while before you can face up to the very best that the sport has to offer, but becoming a Foosball champion is incredibly satisfying.
It is something that you will never forget. Once you are ready, you can check here for the next Foosball tournament.
And there you have it. Everything you need to know about Foosball. Well, almost everything.
This is everything you will need to get started, the rest is completely up to your determination.
From here on out you will be learning tactics, new skills and strategies that you never thought were possible.
We have given you a history, a guide to find your ideal table, the rules and a way to find yourself on the competitive circuit.
But there is still so much more. You have yet to experience the rush of your first tournament, and the excitement when you realize that you have so much to learn.
We envy you, and we wish you well on the amazing journey that is ahead of you. Remember to do your best, and just keep playing. And remember- no spinning!
Check out some of the best foosball tables on the market today: