Ready, Set, Kick: Mastering Foosball


For people who fancy soccer and football, but do not want to get down and dirty with the athletic and physical game itself, table football--- or foosball--- is the best choice they can opt for.

Aside from its small build and hands-only gameplay, what makes foosball truly entertaining is the fact that it has miniature players (also called foosmen) which you can control at your own command. With your hands and goal-focused mind, you can manipulate five "players" at once… for the win!

Now that you have been properly introduced, it is time for the real deal. What are the dos and don'ts when playing foosball? All details will be laid out here. Also, get to know some of foosball's types of gameplay, as well the equipment needed for the whole game.

Are you ready to live the foos life? Ready, set, kick!

How Did You Know?

Foosball History

Before getting down to the rules, here are some interesting facts that you should know about foosball:

What Is In The Name?

Did you know that this tabletop version of soccer and football is called in various names by different countries?

Yes, you read that right. In the United Kingdom, the game is called "table football," while in most parts of Eastern Europe, it is referred to as the "kicker." Meanwhile, in France, its name is quite cute: "baby foot." Lastly, people in the country of Spain call this table game as "futbolin."

It is only in the United States that the term "foosball" originated. Americans borrowed the German word for football, which is "fußball" or "fussball." Over the years, it eventually evolved to the word we now use in most contexts: "foosball."

Blurry Beginnings

Did you know that the story of how foosball began is quite shaky?

The real origin of the famous game is still unclear, but we owe the foosball we know today to Harold Searles Thornton, who patented the game in 1923. According to Thornton, he was struck by the idea of the table football after seeing a football match in Tottenham, London.

However, it is said that the game of foosball started as early as the 1880s or 1890s, in Europe. An automobile engineer named Lucien Rosengart once claimed that he invented the game for his grandchildren's entertainment, while another man named Alexandre de Fiesterra also stated that he came up with the idea for the game while recovering from Spanish Civil War injuries.

Whether it is Thornton, Rosengart or de Fiesterra, whoever invented this game is a true genius.

Foos Rules

Foosball Rules

The game of foosball is pretty simple and basic, especially if you are only playing for fun. However, if you are competitive and determined to sweep the ball off the opponent's' feet (literally), you might view the following rules more seriously:

Flip n' Serve

To start the game or contest, a coin flip is performed to determine which team serves the ball first. Once the game has started and the first goal is scored, the team which was last scored on will serve the ball for the next round. Remember: the ball should be touched by a man for the goal to be legal.

No Spin, Mo' Win

In the game of foosball, there is absolutely NO SPINNING allowed! A spin is characterized by the rod making a 360-degree turn without actually touching the ball. This is usually done by amateur players, commonly called "spinners," who aspire to score a goal by "wishful spinning." This act is illegal when playing foosball tournaments, so do not take the easy way by spinning away.

No Jarring Allowed

Same as with spinning, jarring--- or the act of slamming the rod against the table's wall to purposely distract the opponent or manipulate the ball from them--- is also a big no-no in the game of foosball. However, note that jarring is not the same as pushing the rod against the wall to play defense. You can tell if it is outright jarring when the player is using more force when pushing the rod.

Five Fo' Passing

These rules only apply to your 5 bar foosball rod and are quite complicated for non-tournament foosball players:

The Ball is Dead

This is one of the common things that happen when on a foosball tournament or just playing a simple game for fun. A "dead ball" occurs when the foosball completely stops in the middle of two rods and neither can catch the ball. If this happens, then the ball must be re-served by the team that was last scored on. However, if the dead ball falls behind the defensive 2 bar, then the defensive player is responsible for moving the ball back into playing position.


Just like in other ball games, if the foosball flies off the table or hits a top rail, it should be ruled "out of play" and re-served by the team which was last scored on.

Score for Five

The basic rule for foosball players is that the first team which scores five points wins. This rule varies, depending on the players, but this "first to five" rule is the common ground.


This rule goes out for all players--- it is also very basic and all just common sense: foosball is all about respect. In any game, there should be no offensive words or rude comments to be lashed out on opponents. It is alright to exchange some healthy banter and brag a little, but nothing should be in excess. Play the game fair and square and… just have fun!

Types of Game Play

Foosball Gameplay

Foosball is a very entertaining and interactive game, and it can be played with a maximum of four players (two for each team, each player will operate two rods). The common types of gameplay are:



This game consists of two players--- one on each side. Because they do not have any teammate, each player must control all the four rods on their side of the table.



This is, by far, the most common type of game in foosball. There will be a total of four players (two on each team); each player will control two rods--- either the two defensive rods (usually 1 bar and 2 bar on the leftmost part of your side) or the 5 bar and the offensive 3 bar.

Goaly Wars

Like in singles, this type of play consists of only one player on each side, with each person controlling the leftmost (defensive) rods only.

Anatomy of Foosball


Foosball tables all over the world come in various shapes and sizes. Some are made of glass or wood, others have Barbie dolls as the "fooswomen," and some balls are made of cork.

A typical foosball table usually measures roughly 46 x 27", with a height of 34". The foosmen are super solid in structure for a sturdy kick, and the ball is usually made out of thick plastic, so it will not bounce easily off the table.

The Foosmen

Here are the basic roles of your ever-hardworking and reliable foosmen:

Game On!

Game On

Now that you have been properly warmed up to the basics of the game, it is time to get out of the field (a foosball field, that is) and kick the ball to the goal! Always remember these rules and you will surely ace any foosball tournament in stride!

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