How To Play Foosball For Beginners

How To Play Foosball For Beginners

In Foosball by Jeff Eastman5 Comments

You arrived here seeking foosball knowledge. Maybe your family just added a table to your rec room. Maybe you’re a college kid moving into a dorm and saw the table in the commons area. You’ve never played before, but your interest is piqued. Whatever the reason you’ve come to to the right place.  Behold… How to Play Foosball for Beginners

Foosball is a great game. If you can play it well, people will like you and want to be your friend. No kidding. There’s nobody cooler than the guy at the foosball table who has command over the ball putting it in position for the perfect shot and sounding the rattle board for a score. We’re talking epic, Fonzie levels of awesomeness.  You want this for yourself. Read on. We’re going to go over the rules and some tips to set you on your way.

Give me a quick rundown of the foosball rules I need to know first.

  • Don’t spin the handles. Just don’t. This is foosball Rule #1.  Turning the handles like a freak will scream to the world, “I’ve never played foosball before. Please castigate me!” The definition of spinning is rotating the handle 360 degrees before or after striking the ball.
  • The object of foosball is to score goals. The first side to score 5 goals wins.
  • The ball enters play via the “service hole” located at mid-field on either side of the table. A coin toss determines which team serves first. Whichever team gives up a goal performs the subsequent service. Applying spin to the ball during service to influence its path IS ALLOWED.
  • If a ball enters a goal box but bounces out, it is a goal.
  • When a team knocks the ball into their goal box, it is a goal for the other team.
  • If a served ball spins directly into a goal box without touching a player, it is NOT a goal. It should be reserved.
  • If the ball enters a “dead zone” on the field and a player cannot reach it play is stopped. The ball is picked up and reserved. At no time is lifting or shaking the table allowed.
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OK. That’s enough to get me started. What else do I need to know?

Let’s talk about grip and technique. We mentioned before, don’t spin. It makes you look like a dork. Instead, familiarize yourself with both the Traditional grip and the Open Handed Grip.

The Traditional Grip is naturally grasping the handle from the top. You will need less pressure than you probably expect. When grabbing the handle, there should be space between it and the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. Quickly turning your wrist will give the players a full 180-degree arc of motion.

When shooting on goal, you can transition to The Open Handed Grip from the Traditional Grip very easily. They go hand in hand. (Ha. See what I did there!) From the Traditional Grip just open your hand, placing the handle on the part of your arm between your hand and wrist. Quickly moving your arm up while keeping your flat, open hand against the handle results in a hard shot.

Do I need to put any thought into foosball strategy?

Yes.  Foosball isn’t just randomly pushing and turning handles.  There are a few easy things you can do to increase your chances.

On defense angle the front row defenders and back row defenders feet towards each other. Stack the two rows so that the players alternate between the rods like teeth on a zipper. This setup will minimize the available clear lines in front of your goal.  The guys at the Foos4U YouTube channel offer a great example…

Offense is a bit tougher. As a beginner, if you can play solid defense you may score enough lucky goals not to be embarrassed. There are no two ways about it; you’re going to have to develop some passing and deking skills. This talent won’t happen overnight. It will take practice. Words alone can’t explain the base level you should be looking to attain. Check out the video below.

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OK.  I’m hooked.  I want more.  I need to go beyond “how to play foosball for beginners” stuff.  Give me something more advanced.

I can give you more.  There’s an awesome collection of videos from the MindsetFoos channel on YouTube.  There pro player Chase Pennell gives a great breakdown on everything you need to take your game to the next level.  Here’s the first in his “Road To Pro” series.  It is a set of passing and ball control drills to master.  This will serve as your foundation to becoming a better player.  The best part is you can do these drills by yourself without a partner.  There’s definitely something therapeutic and mesmerizing in passing the ball around the table under your command.

Here’s another great one from the series on the topic of defense.  Chase Pennell gives a great breakdown on positioning and anticipating shots.  He really good at explaining things in a way that even a beginning foosball player can understand.  I’ve played a while but I learned a ton watching the defensive tutorial below especially on stacking players.  There’s a lot of things I can apply the next time I play.


I hope this article, “How To Play Foosball For Beginners” was useful to you.  Foosball is an incredible game and a worthy addition to any rec room.  It’s one of the few games that can entertain and engage four people all at once.  I’ve played a lot of games with a lot of friends and can’t recall ever having a bad time.  There’s a whole tournament scene out there.  If you want to investigate foosball rules further the International Table Soccer Federation offers a PDF of the full rulebook HERE.

Photo Credits:

Foosball flickr photo by Thragor shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license



  1. Your article was really helpful to me. It really gave me a basic idea of how to play foosball. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Best Foosball tip I have heard is to learn one type of shot and master it. The ability to pull of a good shot with consistency is huge. There are many world class Foosball players that are known for a single type of shot. They just do it so well that it can be undefendable.

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