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What Is Foosball? How to Play the Great Game of Foosball
Updated: Apr 11
The indoor parlor sport known as foosball, table soccer or table football has been around longer than you might think. Some sources estimate that its beginnings go back more than a century ago. Its popularity is enduring, and it continues to gain new, eager fans year after year.
Despite its charm and the fact that it seems to be everywhere, many people can get confused by how to play foosball. They understand the basic look and feel of the table and rods, but the game itself doesn’t always seem intuitive.
This guide will help you understand how to play foosball so you can confidently challenge family members and friends in your decked-out game room, courtesy of game tables from HB Home.
The Foosball Table Layout
Let’s start by talking about the foosball table landscape. If you look at a foosball table from a bird’s eye view, you see a field that mimics a soccer field. That’s on purpose. There are goal zones and lines to help you get a sense of distance and perspective when you’re engaged in games.
Plastic or wooden “men” attached to rods hover just above the field. The men’s feet don’t actually touch the table. Instead, they hover just far enough so they can move the ball around the table horizontally, vertically and even diagonally with some banked shots.
As a foosball player, you stand on either of the long sides of the table. You are in charge of four rods. Each rod serves a particular purpose and can be manipulated by grasping a handle directly in front of you.
What are the four foosball rods? Two are meant for offensive play, and two are meant for your defensive actions. In the middle is a five-man offensive bar and a three-man offensive bar. When worked together, they help you keep control of the ball and get it closer to your opponent’s goal.
Your other two rods are a defensive three-man bar and two-man bar. You use them to defend against your opponent’s offensive moves. While they’re positioned close together, you want to work them carefully to avoid giving your opponent a window of opportunity to get the ball into your goal.
The Foosball Ball
The foosball ball itself is big enough to be handled by the men on your rods. While every foosball table comes with a ball, you can find a variety of ball types on the internet. Some players like to experiment with different foosball balls made from materials like cork and plastic.
Occasionally, your foosball ball may end up flying off the table or getting a little dirty from constant play. Depending on the ball material, you should be able to wipe it off or clean it with hot, sudsy water so it moves effortlessly on the green table top.
The Objective of Foosball
Now that you know the basic elements of your foosball table, you want to know what the objective of the game is. Your objective is to get your foosball ball in the opponent’s goal. That’s about as basic as any game room classic gets! Usually, a foosball game is won by the side that gets five goals. A foosball match is determined by the best two out of three or three out of five games.
Of course, this is harder than it seems, especially if you’re not accustomed to moving and twisting four rods to keep the ball in your possession. Give yourself some time to figure out how to work all the rods together to get the results you want.
It’s not unusual to see only two players at a foosball table, going at it like crazy to try to move the ball around the field. However, you don’t have to relegate yourself to only two people at a foosball table at one time.
Some players enjoy a four-person round of foosball. Two people are on either side of the table and each person is in charge of two rods. While this gives you the ability to concentrate on fewer elements of the game, you need to be able to work efficiently with your partner to keep the game going.
Essential Foosball Rules
There are a few elementary rules in foosball. The most important is not to spin the men on the rod. In other words, you can’t just keep spiraling the men around, hoping to hit the ball. Instead, you need to keep the men “standing” and not doing loops. This can be tough to master, especially when you’re just getting started. Making the spinning mistake is understandable when you’re a beginner.
Another foosball rule to know is that you’re expected to be sportsmanlike. In other words, don’t try to distract the player or players on the opposite side of the table. Everyone’s there for the same reason — you shouldn’t have to resort to deceptive tactics to win.
Finally, don’t take more than 10 seconds to set up and take your shots. You’ll want to get the ball moving, whether it’s up and down your rod or across the field of play on the foosball table. Taking too much time only halts the progress of the game and frustrates both players and watchers.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Now that you have a better idea of how to play foosball with others, put aside some time to practice this sport. And yes, foosball is a sport! It’s an indoor activity that can really get the cardio going as you move from rod to rod, figuring out which handle grip makes the most sense to get the goals you crave.
Shop HB Home for High-Quality Foosball Tables
Excited to get started on your foosball career? If you don’t already have a foosball table in your house, shop HB Home for the most attractive, high-quality foosball tables and other indoor games.