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[Foosball] Fundamentals & Rules

category: Sports | course: Foosball | difficulty:
1. The Rules

Before we can start having fun, it is important to know the general rules and basic structure of a foosball table

A foosball table consists of a soccer field, with a goal on each side, and the rest of it are walls (slightly sloped) and 4 rods for each team (1 keeper, 2 defenders, 5 midfielders, 3 attackers).


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Of course, one team’s defenders are facing the other team’s attackers, and the midfield-rods are facing each other. You most often play with 2 players in each team: one to defend (holding the goalkeeper-rod and the defenders-rod), one to attack (holding the midfield-rod and the attacker-rod). Playing alone against one person can also be done, but is less fun in my opinion.

The goalkeeper-rods can move only from the left corner of the goal to the right corner, all other rods can be moved up and down until one of the men hits the wall. All rods can be rotated a full 360 degrees.

The best position to stand in is therefore: standing far enough from the table so that you can comfortably pull both your rods all the way down, and standing solid on your own two feet (which means: do not lean on your rods, this damages the rods, and this only makes playing harder for you). Also, standing diagonally with your left foot forward and your right foot at the back helps: this is because your right hand needs more space to move freely. Grab the handles of your rods as if you are about to shake hands with them, your thumb diagonally facing up.

The idea obviously is to win the game by scoring goals yourself, and making sure your opponent does not score goals.

The Rules

The rules for official tournaments have a lot in them that’s pretty useless (i.e. you only have a time span of mere seconds on a particular rod within which you have to shoot) if you just want to play and have fun (at school or work for example), so I’ll give you the rules as they are applied in casual play:

  • NO SPINNING. Spinning occurs when you spin your rod 360 degrees without touching the ball. The easiest way to never spin, is to never let go of your rod/handle (and to just always hit the ball). Spinning might get you a lot of power behind your shot, but it will also make you miss the ball or goal 9 out of 10 times. It’s just stupid and boring.
  • Every new ball can be put into the field in different ways. Most tables have a hole on the side through which you put the ball. If they don’t, usually the ball is rolled from the middle to the midfielders of the team that was scored against.
  • All rods are allowed to score. However, if you score using your midfielders, the next ball will be worth 2 points (and this ball none).  If you score the last ball with the midfield, you lose.
    • An alternative is that midfield goals don’t count.
  • Whatever happens, as long as the ball ends up in the goal of the opposition, you are awarded a point. The opponent may slightly touch the ball, or the ball might go in via the walls, et cetera, we don’t care: in is in.
  • The rule is: ‘attacker is king’. If an attacker shoots a ball, and it first hits some other things and then goes in, it’s always a goal from the attacker. However, if for example your defenders shoot a ball, and it hits the midfield and then it goes in, it’s a midfield goal.
  • If someone scores a goal, but the shot was so fast that the ball comes out of the goal back into play (a ‘clinker’), the team that scored is awarded 2 points and playing continues.
    • An alternative is that the team that scored gets only one point, but the opposition has one point removed. And yes, counting below zero is allowed.
  • (optional, to make every match more exciting) When a team loses having scored 0 goals, the team must ‘crawl’: crawl under the table from left to right. This is to humiliate them for being rubbish.

The official rules also say the following things, which you can decide for yourself whether you want them as rules in your game:

  • NO JARRING. Jarring (or ‘sawing’, because it is the same movement you would make with a saw in your hands) is when a player slams his rods to the sides of the foosball table. This can be done to make the opponent lose  possession  of the ball, or just as a method of defending; whatever your reasons, most players hate this and forbid this.
  • If the foosball lies dead between 2 rods (no rod can get to the ball, and the ball isn’t moving anymore), the ball needs to be served again.  If you think that’s boring, then you can lift the table a bit until the ball rolls back into someone’s possession.
    • If the ball cannot be reached by neither defenders nor the opponents attackers, the ball automatically goes to the defenders.

If a ball is, whatever the cause, lifted (it jumps away from the table, or it hits the head of one of the men, et cetera) the ball needs to be served again. However, if the ball is still on the field, I recommend you just play on. This is because a ball flying through the air only makes things more fun (and really good players are actually able to pass or shoot the ball through the air, and that’s beautiful to see and do).

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