Foosball is unique among table sports in that it’s the only one where you typically only interact with the ball wholly indirectly. While most only have one step of separation at most between the player and the ball, their manipulators (be it a pool cue, ping pong paddle, air hockey mallet, or something else) are essentially treated as extensions of the player’s body, with a direct connection and method of interacting with the ball.
Foosball though is different; the rods manipulate the men, and the men are the things that manipulate the ball. Two degrees of separation makes for a game that can feel much more finicky and harder to play than others, so it’s significantly more difficult to get better at.
Thankfully, there are a few tricks and tips I can give you to improve your game, though they won’t come easy; even the simplest tips take a fair bit of practice to put to use. At the very least, you might get a good exercise and a good burn from preforming these tricks.
This is the easiest to put into practice, but no less important than others.
Gripping the rods too tightly reduces your ability to make effective use of them.
While you can’t spin the rods (it’s an illegal move by the official tournament rules), you don need to be able to easily do a 180 flip at the very least, for maximum power and control.
The best way to do this is to be on a relaxed state. Its a vital parts in a player’s mindset. by being relaxed in your grip, it lets your wrist do most of the twisting. In fact, advanced players often don’t grip the rods at all, instead preferring to roll them across their palm and wrist.
This is especially important in one-on-one games, as you’ll need to be able to quickly shift between positions. Speaking of…
Practice your Defense
If your familiar with the game, then you’ll know that practice is important. On the goalies, you’ll want to try to practice controlling both rods at once so you can defend effectively and easily.
This is moot in team games, of course, but many foosball matches will be one on one, and your ability to control all positions at once (or quickly switch between them) is absolutely paramount.
Once you have the grip technique down, you need to know what to do with the rods. This is fairly simple, actually. You need to close as many gaps as possible, by staggering your goalies. The two man rods can effectively be turned into a four man rod by simply shifting your goalie strings so they don’t overlap each other, and cove the most ground possible.
Follow the Ball
Tracking the ball is vital for any ball sport, and foosball no less than others. This is the key not only to your defensive plays, but your offensive ones as well.
The ball moves pretty quick, though not as quickly as other ball sports, clocking in at around 35 miles per hour rather than the 80 to 100 miles per hour of similar games. This makes it easier to keep an effective eye on the ball, so make sure to keep a practiced eye (and hand!) at it.
Your rods should always be moving to keep your men in line with the ball, no matter where it might be at a time. This includes both your goalies and your more offensively oriented strikers.
Tracking the ball lets you much more effectively capitalize on any opportunities that pop up, both to stop the opponent from scoring and to counterattack whenever possible. This simple skill is probably the biggest thing you can learn to up your game.
Stop the Ball!
Another great skill to learn is how to stop the ball when it comes to you, rather than keeping it moving at all times.
This is easier than it might sound: all you need to do is tilt your men forward a bit!
It’s a little more complicated than that, but not by much. You simply need to angle your men so the ball gets trapped between their “feet” and the table, whether it’s coming from the back or the front. This technique give you a lot more time to think, and even though there’s a bit of a time limit on how long you can hold the ball.
This gives you much greater control over where you aim the ball and how hard you can smack it.
You can also sometimes trap the ball between your men and the wall, which opens up a few options as well.
While you can’t spin the rods, there is one thing you can spin: the ball.
When serving it, you can serve the ball toward yourself, legally. This is pretty easy to do, actually, When shoving the ball into the hole, put some pressure on the back and right sides of the ball. This will cause the ball to halt in the middle and shoot towards the right after its initial forward and left momentum.
If you’ve ever played around with marbles, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and it’s a great technique to learn if you want to be a marble shooting master too.
This method of control will only be possible if the table is routinely cleaned and the rods are well maintained. We’ve made a guide listing the easy ways to maintain the foosball table. Additionally, it’s better to play on quality game tables rather than substandard products. We’ve made a review about the top-notch foosball tables to invest on.
You can’t just send shots up the middle all the time, not least because it’s essentially just giving your opponent the ball.
You need to bank shots, shoot from different angles, even vary the speed of your attacks.
The best way to do this is to keep a close eye on your opponent, on the position of his pieces, and shoot for the gaps in their defense. There will always be some, as there’s no way to keep a solid wall of men in the way of every possible angle.
There will often be more than one, so feinting for the more obvious one and shooting for a less obtrusive gap is key!