I love it when I stumble upon a bar with a nice foosball table.
It reminds me of when, as teenagers, we would battle it out on the foosball table in my best friend’s basement for hours.
It started as just 1 v 1 matches. But the game became popular among our friends, and before we knew it, we were hosting full blown tournaments in his basement.
We became pretty good too. At least we thought we were at the time. But make no mistake: becoming an advanced foosball player takes a lot of time and practice.
Luckily, there are several basic foosball tips and techniques we can all learn to improve our game.
The following list includes 21 fundamental foosball tips and techniques that will make the game more fun, make you a better player and help you beat your next opponent.
(Looking for a new foosball table? Check out the best foosball tables for every budget.)
1) Don’t Spin!
The first item on our list isn’t really a foosball tip. It’s a rule that all players should follow, even if it’s your first time playing.
Spinning your rods is illegal in foosball (see Rule 13 of USTSA Rules of Play).
Spinning the rods can also damage the table and warp the rods. And it’s not an effective way to shoot. You’ll have a much less powerful and less accurate shot.
So, don’t spin.
Now on to some tips for better playing.
Foosball Grip & Stance
2) Relax your grip
The tendency for many new foosball players to is to hold the handle way too tightly. Especially as the pressure mounts and competition heats up, you start seeing white knuckles.
But make sure you resist the temptation to grip the handles tightly. Instead, maintain a relaxed grip.
Hold the handle with your knuckles on top and thumb loosely wrapped around the bottom.
Try to hold it firm but loose enough that there is a little space between the handle, your palm and your fingers.
A little spacing allows you to quickly adjust your grip while playing. Then it becomes easier to adapt to different types of shots and blocking maneuvers.
Bonus tip: Having a relaxed grip will also produce more power when flicking your wrist and snapping a shot.
3) Use an open stance
New players tend to stand straight, stiff and with both feet parallel to the side of the foosball able.
But you’ll be much better off if you open your stance a little. Try to stand at a 45° angle away from the table.
An open stance will free up your right arm, allowing you to move quickly and generate more power.
Serving the Foos
4) Serve yourself (serving cup method)
The first serve in a foosball game should be a fair serve. This means the ball is served down the middle of the field without preference to either side.
But, after a goal is scored, the serving team can try to serve the ball to themselves.
If your table has a serving cup, there is an easy way to do this.
First, place the ball on the top left edge of the serving cup.
Then, release the ball slowly so it spirals along the right side and down the cup.
When it drops, it should roll right towards your 5-man rod.
5) Serve with backspin
If you don’t have a serving cup, you can try to use the more advanced back-spin serving method.
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.
If properly applied, the ball should stop and roll backwards towards your five rod when it hits the surface.
Strategy & Control
6) Pin the ball
Pinning the ball is a great way to gain ball control while planning your next move.
As the ball approaches your player, angle him back slightly.
You can then “catch” the ball and trap the ball beneath your player.
This can be done as a front pin or back pin, depending on which direction the ball is coming from.
From a pinned position, you can either execute a pass or, for more advanced players, a pin shot.
Check out this tutorial on how to execute the front pin with a powerful shot:
7) Watch your opponent’s men (offense)
It’s natural to focus squarely on your own players when trying to move the ball among them to line up a pass or shot.
But here’s a small but important foosball tip: try to pay closer attention to your opponent’s men.
This will allow you to spot brief gaps in their formation.
Once you have a gap, it creates a path to advance the ball forward. And if there’s a clear path to the goal, take a shot.
8) Keep your forward players angled and ready
Your three-man rod is your true offense, so you should try to advance the ball towards them and retain control as much as possible.
However, if they are positioned too straight, a pass will just bounce off them and your opponent will take possession.
If the they are angled forward, they are in a much better position to receive and hold the ball. So, keep them in this position as much as possible.
Once you have possession and control, you can assess your next move.
Passing the Ball
9) Try a wall pass
Passing is the key to a well-executed offense in foosball. It keeps your opponent guessing and allows you to methodically move the ball forward to better scoring positions.
One of the easiest and most effective techniques to pass the ball forward is the wall pass. This is a great way to pass the ball forward to your three-man rod.
(Want to try your skills out on a smaller table? Check out some of the best mini foosball tables for younger players.)
First, control the ball on the inside edge of your number 2 five-man.
Position a three-man forward against the wall. Then slide the ball to the wall with your five-man and quickly slip it through to your forward.
Watch this tutorial to see the wall pass in action:
10) Use the lane
A lane pass is like the wall pass, but it prevents your opponent from just planting his five-man against the wall to block it. Here, you slide the ball from the inside edge of your player but find a slot before the wall.
Have your forward positioned about two ball widths from the wall to receive the pass.
11) Wall bounce pass
If you’re getting too comfortable – and predictable – with the wall pass, try redirecting the ball with a bounce.
Make your opponent think you’re going to pass it up the wall again, but instead bounce it back in the other direction back to your number 2 five-man, and quickly pass the ball through to your forward.
As with the lane pass, the forward should be positioned about two ball widths from the wall:
12) Redirect your passes
Similar to the wall bounce pass, you can try to throw your opponent off by quickly switching direction.
For example, pretend to begin a wall pass by sliding the ball in the wall’s direction, but quickly shift to your outside edge and pass to your middle five-man. Now you should have a gap to slot the ball forward to your middle three-man.
13) Pass from the defense
Many beginners try to slam the ball forward from the defense as much as possible.
While shooting from the back can be very effective, you should also try to move the ball forward with short, calculated passes.
Using a wall pass, lane pass or bounce pass is a good way to advance the ball from your two-men to your five rod.
Then you can try to use a similar method to reach your forwards. This way you are methodically moving up the field and retaining control.
14) Dribble with your goalie
This is a way to create some space if your opponent is constantly blocking your shots or passes from the defensive end.
Pass the ball back and forth between your two-man defense and your goalie. As you pass, slide along the back line and wait for lane to open-up. Once a lane is open, try to quickly slide the ball forward to your five-man rod.
Just be careful not to score an own goal here.
Shooting & Scoring
15) Master just one shot
You’ll notice that advanced foosball players use a lot of shooting techniques to score. And you may be tempted to try some of these during your game.
But a more effective approach is to find a single shot technique that works for you and stick with it.
For example, when a hole opens up in the goal, your shots should be quick and precise. If you spend too much time trying to line up a special shot, you will miss these chances. If a short push shot works for you, then stick with it. The objective is to score goals.
16) Use the push shot
Speaking of push shots, this is a very simple but effective way to score. With a push shot, you want to position the ball at your player’s outer edge. If it’s a three-man forward, position him at the close edge of the goal. Then push the player towards the other side, and as soon as you see an opening, shoot.
Here’s a good demonstration of the push shot:
17) Use the pull Shot
The pull shot is very similar to the push shot. This time, line your forward up at the far end of the goal. With the ball on the player’s inside edge, pull the rod towards you.
Once a hole opens up, release your shot with a quick flick of the wrist.
If you see a hole before you start to pull, just shoot right away. You might catch our opponent by surprise.
Here’s the pull shot in action:
18) Keep your goalie and defense in sync
When playing defense, your goalie and the two-man rod should be played as a single unit. You can use them in tandem to close gaps and cut off angles.
For example, if your opponent is trying to shoot down the middle, you can close his path by keeping the goalie and middle two-man close together. There should be less than a ball’s width between them.
If your opponent is trying to shoot from the side, you can widen the space between the goal and the two-man to cut of his angle.
Also, if you keep their feet pointed towards each other, you can reduce the space between the rods that a ball can travel through when shot at an angle.
19) Be a shot blocker
Use your two-man rod to block shots. Even as you’re using the goalie and the two-man rod as a single unit, two-main rods main purpose is to prevent your opponent from getting a shot off in the first place.
One way to do this is the race method: every time your opponent is about to shoot, you slide your two-man directly in front of them and block the shot.
Be careful not to get faked out though. Keep your eye on the ball rather than following the rods or other body movements.
20) Shoot from the defense
Even though we already mentioned the importance of passing from the defense, the two-man defense can also be a great place to shoot from.
These shots are hard to read and can be very effective. Just wait to see a straight path to the goal and fire.
Also, make sure you don’t block yourself with your own five-man or three-man. Rotate these players up and out of the way (or make sure your teammate does) when you’re planning a shot.
If your opponent is playing good defense and cutting off your path to the goal, try using a bank shot. You can send the ball at an angle by striking it off center.
These are harder to defend, and once you find the right placement on the wall for a bank path to the goal, you can develop a pretty unstoppable shot.
21) Put all your players to work
Your forwards are your first line of defense. If your opponent is trying to score from the backfield, make sure your three-man rod is trying to block them first.
You can also position your other rods to cut off easy pathways.
For instance, position your two-man rod to block a middle shot on goal.
Position your goalie to block one side of the goal.
Position a five-man against the wall to block a bank shot.
And use your three-man to actively block a straight shot from the defense.
Of course, these positions will need to be reconfigured and tweaked depending on your opponent’s moves and shooting preferences.
Hopefully these foosball tips will help you learn how to play the game, and even gain a competitive advantage when playing at your friends house or out at the bar. As you play more often, these strategies will become second nature.