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Learning The Rules Of Foosball

Despite the long history of foosball and its prevalence in bars and pubs throughout the world, very few people are aware of the rules of how to play the game. The unique element of foosball is that there are many variations of the rules. Some rules are considered at the discretion of the players (or a competition organizer). Others rules are dependent upon the type of foosball table used. In this article, you'll learn the rules of foosball that are used almost universally.

Overview Of General Foosball Rules


Games are played until one team reaches 5 goals (the winning team is usually required to win the game by 2 goals). Matches are played until one opponent wins 3 out of 5 games. Foosball is comprised mainly of serves, goals and rules that govern the activity of the players while the ball is in play. Once a ball is in play, the action continues until a goal is scored, the ball leaves the table, a dead ball (the ball stops moving outside the reach of any foosmen) is pronounced, or a timeout is called.

The Serve

The server launches the ball from a hole (called the "serving hole") in the side of the foosball table. Neither player can influence the ball with their hands once the ball is launched onto the field. If a player's hand is within the playing area during a serve, the serve is considered "illegal." After a ball has been served, players are prohibited from striking it until it has touched the playing field.

Passing And Shooting

Most actions that players use to propel the ball are acceptable during play. However, there are a few illegal activities. First, beginning players have a tendency to spin the rods ferociously, hoping to propel the ball with force. Generally, if the foosman used to strike a ball rotates more than 360 degrees either before or after its impact with the ball, the player is illegally "spinning." Second, a player is not allowed to "jar" the foosball table during active play. This can include lifting or moving the table in any way.

Lastly, players are not allowed to touch the rods of their opponents. The first 2 times this action takes place, the offending player can lose possession of the ball. If the action happens more than twice, a technical foul can be called.

Dead Balls

A dead ball is defined as a ball that has stopped on the playing field and is not within reach of any foosmen. If the ball stops between rods 2 and 8 (which includes most of the playing field), the ball is served again by the player who served the last ball in play. However, if the ball stops between either of the 2-man rods (rods 2 and 8) and the goals nearest those respective rods, active play resumes by placing the ball by the foosman nearest the last position of the ball.

Playing By The Rules

While most people can arguably enjoy foosball without adhering to a strict set of rules, the rules above govern most professional foosball tournaments and competitions. These rules exist to ensure that players cannot take undue advantage of their opponents. As in most organized sporting events, foosball is more fun and challenging when all players are playing with the same set of opportunities and limitations. Take some time to learn the rules above. You may find that playing foosball is more exciting than ever.