There are two types of people in the world when it comes to games and or sports. Some people open the box or the set without glancing at the rules and just play off of what they already know.
Then there are the people who read the rules back to front, making sure they know how to play, and more importantly, the right way to win.
So which one are you? Since you're reading this guide to foosball rules, you're probably the latter. In fact, you might be arguing with someone else (the first type of person) at the foosball table right now, who keeps telling you they "know how to play the game."
Either way, we've got the official rules for playing foosball, including proper foosball table dimensions, and foosball tips to help you win, below!
Foosball Table Dimensions
Let's start with the most logistic topic, the table itself. There are multiple sizes of tables, and almost all of them are fine to play on.
The cheapest and most common tables are about 2.5 feet by five feet long, which translates to 30 inches by 60 inches. Those are the types of tables you'll find in-game rooms and people's garages.
However, a regulation table is a little bit smaller. It's around 29 inches wide by 55 inches in length - so you can see that they're similar, but the ratio of regulation tables to recreational tables is a little off.
Height-wise, the table is meant to be at the average belly-button height of a player. You shouldn't have to bend over to grasp the handles on the table unless you're above-average tall.
Regulation table heights are about 36 inches, which is exactly four feet. Some recreational tables come with shorter or adjustable bases, to allow children the ability to play.
Have a tall table and a small child? Here's a hack! Go to your local thrift store and find an exercise step. The kind that you'd see in an old-school step-dance class. They're usually green or purple plastic with a black rubber mat at the top.
Without risers, they're about five inches. These fit perfectly length-wise under the table, and give your child the perfect boost so they can see what they're doing - making your foosball table a good investment and fun time for everyone in the family!
Parts of the Table
Let's talk about the different aspects of the foosball table. When learning how to play foosball, it's important to know the terminology. Obviously, there's the table, the goals, the rods, the "men," and the field.
But each of those things has a specific name. The rods are what hold the "men," and are the things you hold on to while playing.
The hole on the side of the table is called the serving hole, which we'll talk about later.
As for the "men," there are two types. You have your 5-bar, which has five men on it and is meant for passing, then your 3-bar, for shooting. Your 2-bar is your first line of defense, while your 1-bar acts as your goalie.
With that knowledge under your belt, let's talk about how to play foosball!
Foosball Rules: Let's Get This Straight
Okay, type two (rule reading) people, here's what you've been looking for: the official foosball rules that are going to, hopefully, prove what you've been saying right.
We'll start in order of playing, which is called serving the ball, and work our way to winning from there.
In regulation foosball, the person who puts the ball through the side of the table and kicks first must win a coin flip. Just like football, the coin must be thrown in the air and taken as it lands. No extra hand flipping - like many of us were taught.
Flip the coin and let it land on the ground after each person calls. This is how you start out the game.
Once a person scores a goal, then the foosball rules about serving change. The person who got scored on (not the person who just scored) gets to serve the ball next. This gives the losing team a chance to catch up.
Foosball Tips: How to get the Best Serve
We told you we'd sprinkle some foosball tips in here, so here's one about how to make sure you get the ball to your men when it's your turn to serve.
This tip comes to you from the YouTube channel, Foos Manchu.
You have to use the hole in the side of the table to serve the ball, but there's a strategy to make sure it goes to your men, not your opponents.
This is legal, according to the video, so here are the steps.
- Grab the ball with your right hand, and cover the inside part of the serving hole with your left.
- Put your thumb on the ball at about 11 o'clock, and hold it in the hole with your thumb, so it's resting against your left hand.
- As you release your left hand, spin the ball counterclockwise, using your thumb, while pushing it forward at the same time.
- This should spin your ball towards your five players, giving you the best chance to start off this round of the game with possession of the ball.
The video suggests practicing this by yourself until you can do it without fail.
Winning the Game
Now that you know all the foosball rules and tips to serve, let's talk about how to win. No matter what the counter on the side of your foosball table goes up to, the first person to get to five goals wins.
If the ball goes into the goal, as in, passes through the goal hole in any capacity, it's a goal. Even if it bounces back out.
However, if the ball is served and goes into the goal without anyone touching it, official foosball rules state that's not a goal. The ball must be touched at least once before a goal for that goal to count.
Remember that you should be switching back and forth between who serves the ball, based on who got scored against last.
Moving a Dead Ball
Sometimes, in foosball, the ball gets stuck, and no one can get to it. It is illegal to reach into the table and give the ball a little push in these situations.
It is also illegal to try to shake the table to get the ball to move. See the note about jarring, below.
The regulation foosball rule in this situation is to pick up the ball and re-serve it. The last person to serve is the person who will re-serve the ball in response to a dead zone.
Things You Can't Do
Finally, let's finish this off by talking about things you can't do at the Foosball table.
Can You Spin in Foosball?
The main rule of Foosball that everyone breaks is no spinning. That means that you cannot make any of your rods do a 360 rotation.
And yes, that's a little bit of a bummer, given that making them spin uncontrollably is fun. But if you're playing regulation foosball rules, it's not allowed.
You can, however, turn your rod up to 90 degrees so that the feet are facing the sky. You shouldn't need to go any farther than that for shooting.
If you're turning your man to reach the ball, it's okay to go more than 90 degrees, but as soon as you do a full flip, you've violated the 360 rule.
There is no rule, however, that you can't spin them just for fun if you're messing around or practicing by yourself.
If the ball is stuck, please refer to the ball dead zone foosball rule, above. Do not, under any circumstances, jar, push, rock, or otherwise attempt to move the ball by moving the table.
That's called jarring and is sometimes done to free the ball, but is more often used to throw off an opponent. It's illegal in foosball for that second reason, so keep that in mind.
Jarring includes banging your rod against the walls of the table, as well. Basically, if it jolts the table, it's not allowed.
Finding the Right Foosball Table for You
On our site, you'll find more than twenty models of foosball tables. We aim to stock the right table for every person, no matter what that is. Some of our tables are more aesthetically appealing, while others are meant for convenience, like the ones that have folding legs for storage.
Our models come in different colors, leg shapes, and even sizes, so they fit your space perfectly.
We have indoor and outdoor models, as well as an XXL option, for people who want to play on large teams or get a workout running from one end of the table to another (though that would change the foosball rules, talked about in this guide).
Lost your foosball balls? We have extra balls and maintenance materials on our site, too.
Ready to make your game room more fun? Now that you know how to play foosball by the official rules, shop our foosball selection today!