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Official Rules for Foosball

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Group of people laughing around a foosball table with text that says, "Official Rules for Foosball."

Foosball is a fantastic game for avid players and casual enjoyers alike. Whether you have a competitive streak or want to catch up with friends over a casual game, knowing the foosball rules — and sticking to them — can influence your gameplay for the better.

The official tournament foosball rules are stricter and more comprehensive. Still, the rules of foosball are pretty straightforward, and if everyone knows the basics, you can play the game, enjoy the company of good friends and get competitive.

Winning the Game

Before you play, you'll want to know how to win. Players must score 10 goals to win a game. To win the match, players must win three out of five games. Test out some winning foosball strategies to increase your skills.

Starting the Game

Before you begin your foosball game, flip a coin. The winners of the coin toss choose who will take serve first.

Foosball Serving Rules

Put the ball through the serving hole at the start of each match, after each point or if the ball leaves the table. Servers can influence the ball's roll but cannot have either hand in the play area once the ball is in the playfield — the area above the playing surface to the height of the side boards of the foosball table.

If the ball hits the playfield while the server's hand — including the fingers the player used to push the ball through the serving hole — is in the playfield, the serve is illegal.

Teams can only strike the ball after a serve once it has touched the playfield. Once it has, the ball is in play. Servers can spin the ball to influence the serve, but the serving team can't score any points until one of their figures has struck the ball.

Servers can serve the ball once they have assurance from the opposing team that they are ready to play. They can tap the ball on the side of the table to let everyone know play is about to begin.

The server can retake the serve if a player serves before the opposing team is ready. In the case of subsequent violations of the same rule, the serve should pass over to the opposing team.

Subsequent Serves

After the first serve, the team who lost the previous point should make each subsequent serve. If the wrong team accidentally serves the ball, stop play and let the correct team re-serve. If anyone scores before realizing the mistake, the point counts and the game continues.

When the Ball Is in Play

Play commences until someone scores a point, declares a dead ball, hits it off the table or calls a time-out. There are some rules to remember, including the following:

  • Spinning: Any spinning of the rods that rotates a figure 360 degrees before striking is illegal. Goals scored by spinning don't count as points.

  • Jarring: Bumping, sliding and lifting of the table is illegal, whether intentional or not. If a player jars the table, the opposing team can choose whether to continue playing from their current position or where the jarring occurred. Any further violations on behalf of the same player are considered technical fouls.

  • Goalie shots: Officially, a goalie shot in foosball is not worth two points. Many casual players elect to add this rule, so if you're just playing at home, consider it. Just make sure everyone knows and agrees beforehand.

  • Dead balls: When a ball has stopped entirely and none of the players' figures can reach it, it's considered a dead ball. Dead balls between the goals and the two main rods must be put back into play in the corner nearest the dead ball. If the dead ball is between the two-man rods, the team that initially served it should re-serve to put it back into play. Balls spinning in place are not considered dead.

  • Balls out of play: Any ball that leaves the playing area and strikes the scoring marker, the top of the side rails or any object that isn't part of the table is declared out of play. The team who originally served that ball must put it back into play. If a ball enters the serving cup and returns to the playfield, it's still in play.

  • Scoring: As long as it's legally scored, any ball entering the goal area counts as a point scored, even if it bounces out.

5-Bar Rules

If you've never played tournament foosball, adapting to the 5-bar rules may take a moment. Remember the following and you're off to a good start:

  • Directly after a serve, you have 10 seconds to pass the ball from your 5-bar rod to your 3-bar rod.

  • You cannot stop a ball on the 5-bar and then pass it to the 3-bar. It must be moving and touch two men on the 5-bar before you can advance it.

  • The ball can only touch the wall twice before touching a man on the 5-bar again.


What constitutes a foul in foosball can be the topic of some debate. Technical fouls are awarded for the following offenses:

  • Jarring the table: Jarring is never allowed, even accidentally or if there's a dead ball.

  • Spinning: It counts as a foul if the player rotates the rod a full 360 degrees before or after taking a shot. This is true for one or more full rotations.

  • Interference: Anyone who reaches into the playing area without prior agreement by both teams is guilty of interference and gets a foul. If your opponent has the ball when you reach the play area, they get an immediate goal.

  • Distraction: Shouting, cursing, smoking and deliberately trying to distract another player will also get you awarded a foul.

When someone commits a foul, the referee will stop play and award the ball to the opponents of the offending team at the three-man rod. Your opponents are allowed to take one shot. Whether they score or not, the ball must be put back into play at the spot where the foul was called. If anyone scores a goal due to a foul, the offending team isn't awarded the point.

Unspoken and Often Forgotten Rules

We often need to remember the smaller things. Some lesser-known rules and good etiquette for a foosball match include the following:

  • Switching positions: Once a game has started, you and your teammate may not change positions between points or while the ball is in play. You can switch positions between games.

  • Making space: Show some good etiquette by creating space for players when you're not playing.

  • Cursing: In an official foosball tournament, you can be awarded a foul for cursing. While the rules need not be so severe when you're playing casually at home, keeping cursing to a minimum is just good etiquette.

Make Your Foosball Game Great With HB Home

Whether you're a competitive foosball player who likes to take your game seriously or a casual one who uses a game or two as an excuse to catch up with good friends, remember to have fun.

If you're new to foosball or looking to upgrade your table and equipment, HB Home has everything you need to make your foosball area a beautiful addition to your home and games room. With over 30 years of experience offering high-quality table-style games, you can trust that HB Home will provide the best. Feel free to shop our game tables to start making your game room special!

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