What Are The Rules of Foosball? 7 Top Tips On How to Play

It’s impossible to ignore the popularity of foosball. The game has made its way into television shows like Friends (fondly used by the lovable cast as an occasional breakfast table) and Community. Depending on whether you’re playing with official tournament rules, playing a quick game with friends at the local pub or arcade, or simply looking to spend some quality time with friends and family in your game room, the rules can change drastically. But what are the actual rules of Foosball?.

Here are the most basic of rules:

  1. All teams should have an even number of people
  2. Flip a coin to see who kicks first
  3. Make use of your player lines to score points
  4. Games are played to five points

It’s pretty much the game of soccer made miniature and a lot faster, right? Foosball is much more detailed and here we try to break it down into simple terms.

While the casual player may be solely focused on getting the foosball in their opponent’s goal, the professional player will be thinking about bar passing, shooting, defensive blocking and so much more. Read more to get some other Gameplay information and some foosball tips.

The Official Rules of Foosball

All teams should have an even number of people

Having equal teams is a no-brainer in the game of foosball. It would be considered unfair if a game was played two-on-one or even three-on-two. To keep the game fair, teams should consist of an even number of people. This way, no one team will have an advantage by having more or fewer people manning each foosball bar.

Flip a coin to see who kicks first

While casual players will probably toss the foosball into the center of the table and race to hit the ball first, official foosball rules dictate that a coin flip determines who gets to kick the ball first. The winner of the coin flip gets first to serve, at which point the game begins.

Make use of your player lines to score points

A skilled team will take advantage of the foosball table’s player layout, passing between defensemen, mid-fielders and strikers. When passing, you should always be passing forwards and never backwards. Aim to get the foosball to your striker line for the best scoring outcome.

Games are played to five points

Every foosball table should come with nine Foosballs. The first team to reach five goals is declared the winner. This ensures that matches are both fast and intensely fun. In some official tournaments, games may be played so that there is a clear two-point lead, meaning games can sometimes be played up to eight points.

Illegal Foosball Moves


While the casual player may not necessarily need to adhere to this rule, it’s definitely a best practice not to participate in spinning. Spinning is when a person rotates a bar a full 360 degrees without hitting the ball. In an official tournament, spinning can actually get you disqualified or result in you forfeiting a point or serve.


Bumping the foosball table in order to gain an advantageous position may seem harmless enough, but if you’re playing in an official tournament game, this move is actually illegal. Jarring occurs when you hit the foosball table with the side of your body or by being extra forceful with the rods to wobble the foosball from its position. If this occurs in a tournament game, you will forfeit your serve to the other team.


It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be handling the foosball by hand when a game is in session, but nevertheless, this is a move that falls under the heading of illegal moves. When a game is on, the only time you should handle a foosball is when you’re placing it in the center of the table to begin your serve or to replace the ball if it’s fallen out of play. Reaching into play will result in an immediate forfeit of your serve.

Other Important Foosball Rules

Dead Ball

While foosball is definitely a fast-paced game, it’s not uncommon to find that a foosball has rolled into an area that’s impossible to hit from. Sometimes foosballs get stuck in corners or areas where none of the players have any reach. If this is the case, the foosball becomes known as a dead ball. If this happens, the ball may be handled and the serve will be given to the team who last scored a point.

Possession Time Limits

This rule isn’t really as important when it comes to casual games of foosball, but if you’re playing by official tournament rules, it’s important to keep it in mind. You’re not allowed to hold on to the foosball for more than fifteen seconds on the defense and striker lines. When it comes to the midfield line, you can’t hold onto the foosball for more than ten seconds. The game should always be moving, and this rule prevents matches from becoming boring and stale.

Ball Out of Bounds

Sometimes matches can get pretty wild. With Foosballs ricocheting and bouncing everywhere, it’s a wonder that the ball is able to stay on the table most of the time. Occasionally, however, the foosball can be hit off of the table’s surface and fall out of bounds. If this happens, the team that didn’t kick the ball out of bounds will take the serve and start the match up again.

A Score is a Score

Foosball is an incredibly fast game that requires a lot of attention. The ultimate goal is to score points on your opponent’s goal. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of in foosball to accidentally hit the ball towards your own goal and score on yourself. When it comes to foosball, this self-scored point still counts towards your opponent’s overall score count, even if you contest it.

7 Top Tips on How to Play Foosball Like A Pro

  1. Have a Loose Grip
  2. Use Your Five-Bar
  3. Stagger Your Defensemen
  4. Be Aggressive!
  5. Mix Up Your Play Strategies
  6. Study Up On the Different Types of Scoring Shots
  7. Reduce Rod Resistance
Have a Loose Grip

If you’re hoping to have an easier time shooting the foosball down the length of the table, it’s highly recommended that you keep your grip loose on the rod handles. This way, you can more effectively move from rod to rod as the ball moves around, meaning faster reaction times and ability to get to the foosball first. Having a loose grip also means you’ll better be able to gauge how much force you’ll need to hit to the ball without accidentally spinning

Use Your Five-Bar

The five-bar refers to your midfield players (aptly named because of the five players on your middle bar). While you do have to adhere to the ten second possession time limit, your five-bar will offer you the most control over the playfield. Because of the area that the players cover, you’ll better be able to aim where you shoot and make plays to your striker row. It’s a good idea to learn how to gain control of the foosball immediately after a match serve.

Stagger Your Defensemen

All foosball tables should have two lines of defensemen guarding your goal. To decrease the chance of being scored on, you should stagger your defense players to cover as much of the playfield as possible, closing off any potential openings. Your defensemen shouldn’t overlap one another, or else this leaves the perfect gap for your opponent to aim for.

Be Aggressive!

Similar to a real-life game of soccer, the more aggressive you are about being the first to the ball, the higher your chances of success. Always aim to be the first to hit the ball, even if it’s your serve. Don’t wait for your opponent to maybe hit the ball right to you. Go after it! Dominate the foosball table and move your players to where the ball will be, not to where it was. By playing aggressively and trying to predict where the foosball will land, you’ll have an easier time scoring again and again on the other team.

Mix Up Your Play Strategies

The ultimate goal is to score on your opponent, but the way that you do this can vary greatly depending on how you play. To increase your unpredictability, try mixing up your strategies. Don’t always try and score from the striker line. Try taking advantage of your midfielders or even defensemen. This will keep the other team on their toes and can potentially leave them wide open as they try to predict what you’ll do next.

Study Up On the Different Types of Scoring Shots

Do you know the difference between an aerial shot, bank shot, and pull kick shot? There are so many ways in which you can score a point, and each of them have their own advantages and disadvantages. If you’re genuinely interested in playing like a professional, we highly recommend that you learn about the different types of scoring shots there are and how to apply them. This will not only give you more control over the playfield but also greatly impress your opponents the more you practice.

Reduce Rod Resistance

Over time, foosball table rods can become stiff and difficult to manage without proper maintenance and upkeep. If you’re playing foosball at the local pub or arcade, there’s a very high chance that the foosball table you’re playing at hasn’t been looked after properly after each match. If you find that your rods offer up a great deal of resistance, try pulling and pushing the rods right up to their bumpers. This will help get rid of any grime or sticky residue before you play, as well as cover the rods with a thin layer of lubrication for easy handling.

Example Foosball Shots

The Aerial Shot

The aerial shot requires a lot of practice and dedication to get right. The shot is taken by a defensive player with the ball being lifted between the two players on the two-bar. The ball is then balanced on the player’s foot, held in a horizontal position, and then flipped over into the air towards the other team’s goal. As one can imagine, this particular shot is difficult to pull off in the middle of a fast-paced game, but is incredibly fun and impressive if pulled off correctly!

The Bank Shot

The bank shot requires a little bit of luck but works wonders if pulled off correctly. The bank shot can be pulled off whether you’re playing offensively or defensively. You need to hit the foosball off of the side of the foosball table at a diagonal angle so that it ricochets directly into the other team’s goal.

The Pull Kick Shot

The pull kick foosball shot occurs when you pass the foosball from one of your outer striker players to your middle striker player by pulling the rod towards you slightly. Once the foosball has rolled to the middle striker, you shoot on your opponent’s goal to score a point. This is one of the simpler shots to pull off, but it can be incredibly effective in catching the other team off guard.