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A Complete Guide on the Official Foosball Rules

Updated: Feb 26

When it comes to games and sports, there are two types of people in the world — those who play based on what they know without reading the rules and those who read the rules back to front to ensure they know how to play and how to win.

Knowing the official foosball rules goes beyond knowing what you can and can't do. It can also teach you the best way to play the game, whether for casual fun or competition. This guide will teach you everything you need about foosball, from table dimensions to the official rules.

Foosball Table Dimensions 

There are different foosball tables, from regulation to standard and even tabletop versions for tight spaces. Regardless of your table type, it is bound to provide hours of fun.

The most common tables are about 2.5-by-5 feet long, which translates to 30-by-60 inches. Standard tables are ideal for personal game rooms as four people can play at a time. Tabletop versions are the smallest foosball tables and are perfect for smaller rooms.

If you want to play in foosball tournaments, you need a table that meets the International Table Soccer Federation's (ITSF) specifications. Regulation tables are typically 29 inches wide, 55 inches long and 36 inches high.

Standard and regulation foosball tables are meant to reach the belly button of a player, and you should be able to play without bending over to grasp the handles. Some recreational tables come with shorter or adjustable bases to allow children the ability to play. 

If you have a tall table and your child wants to play, try using an exercise step or small step ladder. This should give them the height needed to see the table and reach the handles, making your foosball table a good investment and fun time for everyone in the family! 

Parts of a Foosball Table

Before you start playing foosball, you need to know the different parts of the table.

Understanding each piece and how they work can help give you the edge in your next foosball game — friendly or professional:

  • Players: These are the figures that make up your team. They can either look like actual people or be human-shaped replacements. They are what you control to shoot the ball across the table. There are four types. The 5-bar has five figures on it and is meant for passing. The 3-bar has three figures and is for shooting, while the 2-bar is your first line of defense with two figures on it. The goalie is known as the 1-bar and has one man on it.

  • Rods: The metal pipes the players attach to are called rods. Solid rods have more weight and can slow down the game so that the focus is on skill rather than speed. Hollow rods are lighter, allowing for faster foosball matches. Assess the rods on the table before starting your next match to see whether they are hollow or solid so you can play accordingly.

  • Handles: The handles are what you hold at end of the rods to control players during the match.

  • Bumpers or springs: These are generally found on the rods between the figures and the table. They act as a cushion to prevent damage or injury. Bumpers are made from durable rubber and are more popular as they can last longer. Some tables use springs, letting players get closer to the edge of the table. They usually are less durable than bumpers.

  • Serving holes: These are the holes on each side of the table where the ball is served. Some tables don't have serving holes and have different ways to serve the ball.

How to Play Foosball

You play foosball by controlling the four rods attached to the figures. The aim is to score more points than your opponents. How you maneuver and control your players is dictated by the ITSF rules that govern everything from serving to how you can move your players.

Here is a breakdown of the essential rules for foosball:

Starting the Match

A coin flip decides who gets the first serve or which side the player or team gets. If you decide to serve first, the other player can choose which side they want to play on. If you pick which side to play on, the other player gets to serve first.

Flip the coin and let it land on the ground after each person calls — no extra hand flipping.


There are two ways to serve. If the table has a serving hole, the ball is passed through the serving hole onto the table. Either team can hit the ball one time once it has touched the table. This is the only time the ball can be spun, as long as the player serving the ball lets their hands touch the table or leave the serving hole.

If the table doesn't have serving holes, the ball must be placed at the start location. This is typically at the mid-foot location of the serving player's figures.

Players can't use their hands to touch the ball or the field once the ball is set for service. You must also confirm the opposing player is ready to play before putting the ball into service.

Once a person scores a goal, 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. 

If the ball comes off the table, the person who served that round must reserve the ball. The ball shall be considered off the table if it touches the scoring marker, the top of the side rails or any other object that is not part of the table. If a player shoots over their opponent's players, the ball will be considered off the table. This is an illegal move, and any goal from this move will be deducted. Your opponent will then get to serve.

Scoring Rules

The foosball scoring rules are relatively simple. A goal is when the ball passes through the goal hole. If your goalie hits the ball into your goal, it is considered an own goal. Even if the ball bounces back out, it is still considered a goal. However, if the ball is served and goes into the goal without anyone touching it, official foosball rules state that it is not a goal. 

The first person to five wins that round. Most professional games play best out of five or three. Sometimes, a single round is played, and the first person to seven wins. Remember that you should be switching back and forth between who serves the ball based on who got scored against last. 

Dead Balls

Sometimes the ball gets stuck, and no one can get to it. In these situations, giving the ball a little push or shaking the table is illegal to get the ball back into play. The regulation foosball rule in this situation is to pick up the ball and reserve it. The last person to serve is the person who will re-serve the ball in response to a dead zone. 

Things You Cannot Do 

Knowing how to start the game and score is just the start. You also need what you can't do in a foosball game.

No Spinning

The main rule of foosball that everyone breaks is no spinning. That means you cannot make any players do a 360-degree rotation. You can turn your rod up to 90 degrees so that the feet face the sky. This is as far as you should need to go 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 complete flip, you've violated the spinning rule. 

No Jarring 

You are not allowed to jar, push, rock or otherwise attempt to move the ball by adjusting the table, even if the ball is stuck. This is 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. If it jolts the table, it's not allowed. 

Finding the Right Foosball Table With Imperial

Now that you know how to play foosball according to the official foosball rules, it is time to get practicing. At Imperial, we stock a range of foosball tables. Our models come in different colors, leg shapes and even sizes, so they fit your space perfectly.

Shop our Foosball Tables today!

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