Foosball 101 : How to play Foosball? | History | Rules | Tournaments | Strategies | Techniques | Tricks & Tips

Foosball game has become enormously famous and popular among the people. It is most commonly played in pubs, bars, offices and even at home. But before you strike your next spin, don’t you want to know each and every detail involved behind this game? After in-depth study and research, we have curated all the details to fill your zeal and curiosity.

Foosball History

The name foosball is derived from the German word for “football,” which is a sport better known as soccer in the U.S. Foosball was invented by Harold S. Thornton in 1923. The idea of inventing something like foosball came while Thornton was watching his favorite soccer team, the Spurs. His love and zeal for foosball forced him to think of a way to play foosball at home. Just like every initial step, the idea was executed through a box of matches by lay individual matches across the box of matches. His idea was fuelled by his uncle Louis P. Thornton, who took his idea to the United States to have it patented there in 1927. But unfortunately, soon the patent expired which resulted in the obscurity of the game.

In 1950, the first league was established in Britain by the Belgian which resulted in the formation of European Table Soccer Union in 1976. But all these years this game was not acknowledged with an official name and set of rules. Different names were given in different countries like langirt in Turkey, Jouer au baby-foot in France, csocso in Hungary, cadureguel-schulchan in Israel, plain old table football in the UK.

The game again regained its popularity in the early 1960s. Lawrence Patterson was with U.S. military stationed in West Germany at that time. With its growing popularity in Europe, Patterson set up a deal with Bavaria in regard to constructing a specifically designed machine to export to the US. The late 1980s saw tremendous popularity of foosball table which led Patterson to sell the franchise and allow the partners to buy the machines and pay a monthly fee.

The modern foosball is based on the patent design by Alejandro Finisterre.

Soon with the progress in globalization and technology ever more sophisticated video games, digital technology, and plasma televisions were coming up in the market. But events like International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) in 2002 and World Championship of Table Soccer kept on the zeal of sports enthusiast which never faded the magic of foosball.

How to play foosball

  • The game of Foosball begins when one of two players places the ball through a serving hole on either side of the table.
  • After the ball is served, a player uses their rod-controlled foosballers, to hit the ball into their opponent’s goal.
  • Each side of the table has four handlebars, so players can play either one-on-one or two-on-two. If they play two on two, then generally each player controls two handlebars, either two defensive rows or two offensive rows.
  • The first person or team to score the predetermined number of goals, generally five or 10 depending on the scoreboard type on the table is declared the winner.

Rules to play foosball game

  • The best way to start the foosball game and decide the player to spin the handlebar is to flip a coin.
  • The important thing to keep in mind while playing the game is not to spin the handlebar in 360 degrees to hit the goal.
  • Jarring is strictly prohibited while playing the game. The player is not allowed to slam the rod to the football table wall to distract the opponent player. Jarring is different from self-defense of moving the rod back and forth.
  • If by any case the ball is stuck in the middle of the table than it is re-served by the player who has last scored.
  • Just like the dead ball, if the ball drops off the table or hit the rail and then come back, the ball has to be ruled out and re-served by the last scored player.

Best foosball shots

  • Foosball snake shot

Foosball snake shot is one of the most important shot in foosball game. The rollover or snake shot is a 3 bar shot which is taken by the middle offensive man to pin the ball between the player and the table. This shot is taken with an open hand as your wrist pins the man on top of the ball in a forward position. The man is then moved laterally left or right and your wrist is rolled up the handle of the rod in order to strike the foosball with the same man.

In order to set up the snake shot, you will need to front pin the ball against the table with your middle offensive man on the 3 bar. This set up will take a lot of practice and you will lose many balls before perfecting this setup. Besides the aerial shot, it is the hardest shot to set up in the game of foosball.

List of Foosball champions:

There are numerous Foosball Tournaments and Foosball wold champions. We will soon update the list here, meanwhile, you can refer this Wikipedia page for ‘ List of World table Football Champions

Foosball movies

Foosball is a part of American culture, so it’s natural that many Hollywood movies were made about Foosball. Here are few notable movies that mention about Foosball Game. 

  • Underdogs:  Underdogs also known as Metegol in Argentina and The Unbeatables in the United Kingdom. The film is an Argentine production and was released in Argentina on 18 July 2013, setting an all-time record for an Argentine film opening at the box-office. The film is inspired by the short story Memorias de wing derecho (Memoirs of a Right Wing) by Argentine writer Roberto Fontanarrosa. Gaston Gorali, co-writer, and producer of the film, and Eduardo Sacheri (who had previously worked with Campanella for the classic film The Secret in Their Eyes) developed the screenplay with Campanella. The movie revolves around a young man named Amadeo sets off on an unexpected adventure with the players of his beloved Foosball game.
  • Longshot:  Longshot is about Leif Garrett as a young foosball player who wants to earn the big dollars that will be used to play soccer in Europe by winning the foosball world championships. The movie was released in 1981.

Techniques and tricks to play good foosball:

  1. Never spin: The important thing to keep in mind while playing the game is not to spin the handlebar in 360 degrees to hit the goal. Spinning the ball can lead to damage of the table as well as the game.
  2. Relax your grip: Maintaining a light-handed grip is very important to buckle up your game especially for newbies. Tight hand grip is very common for the new players out of anxiety and competition heat. Therefore, to score the goal it is very important to have the right grip.
  3. Right posture: An idle posture to score a goal quickly is to stand at a 45° angle away from the table.
  4. Backspin: If you cannot take advantage of serving cup than you can apply for backspin. To apply backspin on the serve, place your thumb on the left side of the ball. Push down on the ball as you push it to the right side and through the hole.
  5. Track your opponent’s move: It is very important to keep a track on your opponent’s move and trick. This will give you time and some brief on your next move.
  6. Passing of wall: A correct and swift passing of ball can lead to well-executed move. The best way to pass the ball is to go for wall pass. It is one of the most effective and easy way to score.

Foosball Strategies: Best Strategies to play foosball


This type of shot is when a player hits the ball off the wall into the goal. It requires hitting the ball at the proper angle depending from where on the table the shot is being taken.


A player must line up the ball with the goal from any figure in line with the goal. The shot can be taken from any row, as long as the shot is centered. To be successful, it must clear the line of the defenders.


To increase a player’s chances of winning, playing good defense is important. A basic style of defense is placing the immediate row of figures closest to the ball directly in front of where the ball is. Then when the opponent tries to take a straight shot, keep a firm grip on the handle to block the shot.


Another defensive strategy is to play an opponent’s angle shots. Usually, skilled players pick up on this technique faster. If you can read your opponent enough to anticipate a bank shot, slide your figures against the wall to prevent the shot.

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