Foosball Rules: Here’s How You Play

foosball rules

You often see this game inside recreation rooms, and is enjoyed by people of all ages. Foosball looks easy; all you need is to flip miniature players and hit the ball towards the goal. It is as easy as it looks?

What is Foosball?

Foosball, also known as table football, is a table game that resembles the game of football. It’s soccer’s tabletop version wherein players turn rods attached to miniature figures of soccer players secured on top of a playing box.

The objective of the game is for your figures to hit the ball and shoot it inside the opponent’s goal, while blocking and stopping the ball from hitting your own goal. You serve the ball, you pass it to your teammates and then you try to score.

Foosball is not only considered a game, but also a a sport. For some, it’s merely a miniature game of soccer or football. To those who have learned to love the game, it has become a huge part of lives that has led to various competitions and professional fan clubs.

Whether you’re a foosball newbie or a foosball enthusiast, this game will certainly become a fun activity that you can do with friends and family.

The Foosball Table

Standard and full-sized foosball game tables measure around 5 feet long and 2 ½ feet wide. Regulation size foosball tables measure 56 inches long, 30 inches wide and 36 inches tall.

People need room for movement while playing foosball, especially those who wish to use the right foosball stance while playing. To make players comfortable during every game, there should be an additional 3 to 4 feet of elbow room on every side.

Aside from the main dimensions, there are other factors considered in choosing a foosball table, including getting side ball or an end ball return. Experts say that most people who purchase the game, choose tables with side ball returns. With side ball returns, the table can be pushed closer to the wall, and players don’t have to reach around the table’s back ends just to retrieve the ball.

How to Play Foosball

Foosball is more than just a table game; it’s a fun activity with rules and regulations to observe.  Surprising as it may seem, it’ll take years for you to master this game.

You can start now:

Number of Players

There are two ways to play the game:

  • Singles – One player battles with another single player
  • Doubles – One couple is pitted against another couple. One person from each team controls the defensive (leftmost rods). The other player will control the offensive aspect (3-bar and 5-bar). Players can switch roles on succeeding sets.

The Right Stance

A beginner player may not immediately realize the importance of the proper foosball stance. Having the right stance will make you feel relaxed, allowing you to score.

Slightly angle your body at a diagonal angle. Your left side should be closer to the table for your right arm to move freely. The offensive 3 and defensive 2 rods are longer; you’d need more space to pull them back compared to the other 2 rods.

What’s important is to feel comfortable; allow yourself the freedom of movement by positioning your body the right way.

Starting the Game

A coin is flipped to determine who first serves on a foosball game. More commonly known as the drop, the service signals the start of the game. You can serve the ball to your own team, that’s why foosball players understand the importance of service mastery.

After scoring the first goal, the team that last scored a point will make the serve. A foosball player should touch the foosball before it gets to the goal for the goal to occur.

Passing the Ball

Passing is one vital skill you to master when playing foosball. If you’re playing a doubles game, you don’t have to pass the ball to your teammate but you should know how to pass the ball from the 5-bar to the offensive 3-rod.

The two most popular passes are the following:

  • Tic-Tac Pass – The ball is simply passed back and forth so swiftly that your opponent can’t follow. You then kick the ball at the right moment towards the 3-bar.
  • Brush Pass – This is often done using the 5-bar. You tilt your man back and barely brush the ball against the table for it to move side to side. The ball is brushed to another man on the 5-bar; it will then be passed up to the 3-bar.


What is not allowed in foosball?

  • Spinning
    • Spinning – the rotation of foosball figures more than 360° before or after hitting the ball – is illegal in any foosball game. Spinning is banned in foosball as it causes confusion and deception to everyone in the game.
  • Jarring
    • Jarring pertains to a player slamming the rods against the wall of the table with the intent of confusing or distracting the other player. Jarring isn’t allowed at any point of the game.
  • Ball Out of Play
    • A ball coming off the table or hitting the rail then coming back to the table is considered out of play. After determining the ball is out of play, the service will be done by the last team to score.
  • Reaching into the Play Area
    • You can’t reach into the play area unless the opposite team gives permission. If you did without the other team’s consent, then a penalty will be issued. If the penalized team had possession, then the other team will kick-off. If the penalized team didn’t have possession, the other team will automatically be awarded a point.
  • Dead Ball
    • A dead ball is the ball that stops in an area that no one can reach. If a ball goes dead between the middle bars, you can just pick it up and serve again. If a ball goes dead behind the midfield rows, the ball will be reserved to the closest defending player.
  • Moving the Table
    • You are not allowed to move or to ram the table in any way. You should only touch the rod handles of the foosball table.


You don’t always have to shoot the ball into the goal; one of your main tasks is to clear the ball. Before starting a pass or shooting the ball, you should stop it first. If you swing at a moving ball, and you end up missing it, then the ball may end up on the striker row of your opponent.

Before shooting, ensure your 5-bar is out of the way. Look for passing or clearing holes around the table’s sides.

Game Length

A standard foosball game is played until a team reaches 5 points. There are players who get too caught up and reach up to 7 or 9 points, so it’s up to whoever is playing.

A foosball match will be won once one of the teams wins 2 out of 3 games, or 3 of 5.

Other Techniques and Strategies

Your midfield row can only possess the ball for 10 seconds, and the other rows can possess the ball for 15 seconds. The rows for the goalie and the defense count as one row; possession of the ball should only be 15 seconds combined.

Following the ball, no matter where it’s located is an essential foosball strategy. Always be aware of the ball’s position in the game – wherever it is or whoever possesses it. Beginners often get distracted and don’t realize that they can block balls simply by following it.

Maintain ball control. Losing the ball means losing an opportunity to score a goal, and the opponent gaining an opportunity to score. To master this strategy, passing and catching are skills you need to learn.

Like any other game or activity, you are strongly encouraged to show sportsmanship before, during and after every game. Showing an unsportsmanlike behavior may not affect the game, but may affect your character.

Practice Makes Perfect

Sounds cliché, but practice indeed makes perfect. A beginner won’t move up to the next level unless he or she practices over and over.

There are skills such as shooting and passing that you can learn even if you just play by yourself, but defensive methods will be better mastered by playing actual games with an opponent.

Some players aren’t comfortable with losing, however what’s wrong with winning every game is that you might not improve because the games tend to become too easy. Challenge yourself – find the best players.

Essential Point

Foosball is a fun game to play. Like any other game or sport, it has rules and regulations that you need to adhere to.

What are you waiting for? Prepare your equipment and have the other players with you. Soon, you’ll master the basics and eventually be a skilled foosball player.