It is a general perception that Foosball replicates the football game on a confined table, which is not entirely wrong. But, it does not imply that knowing football rules will make you ace the foosball game as well. Foosball has its own set of fundamental rules that are applied mostly to tournaments or in professional gaming. So, if you are a beginner who plays a friendly arcade match every week or even a professional player, these rules can make you shine as a pro-Fooser!

Before jumping onto the fundamental foosball rules, you may want to know the basic guidelines that are followed worldwide in foosball matches.

How to play Foosball

The basics of foosball are pre-evident for anyone who’s ever seen a foosball match but may seem complex to a newbie.  

  • The main goal in foosball is to target the opponent’s goal and hit the ball on it. The goal is present at the end of both sides around 10-12 inches away.
  • After the ball is served from the middle of the table, each team can move the ball through the players mounted on the rod.
  • The middle rod consists of five players that are used for shooting and passing the ball.
  • The second last and last row consists of defense-men and goalies that save the goal.
  • One on one matches are usually preferred for beginners to learn

Fundamental Rules of Foosball

These foosball rules may seem like a lot to take in but that’s not the case. They have some minute details that one can easily miss which results in minus points without knowing. Foosball fanatics all over the world play by these rules to ace the game!

Rule # 01: Flip The Coin to go First

The rule is applied to the beginning of the match. It determines the team which will get the ball control first. This may seem like a simple toss but the team that starts the match gets a chance to goal fast within the first few seconds. Also, the advantage of choosing the side of the table they want. Tables get turned when the team that scores the goal first has the chance of choosing the side of the table they like. The makes the match fair by giving each team a chance to choose their side!

Rule # 02: Each Goal Makes a Point

This scoring system is used all over the world in foosball matches. According to this foosball rule, each goal is counted as one score or point. Each game has a set of points (goals) that needs to be scored. From the second ball that appears on the table to the second goal is scored, it will all be considered one single point. There are different point games, best of 3-game, best of 5-game, and 7-point game. Whoever wins 2 games out of 3 with the maximum number of points wins the game. To win the tournament, each team has to save their goal and hit the opponent’s goal as soon as it can to get a point.

Rule No# 3: Passing the Ball

To keep the game fair between both the team there is a rule against keeping the ball for a longer time. Each rod can keep the ball for a fixed amount of time and has to pass it on within that limit or else it’s counted a foul.

The player is allowed to keep the ball at the goalie and the 3-man rod for 15 seconds. The middle 5-man rod can keep the ball for not more than 10 seconds. If they do, as a penalty, the other team gets the gain of playing on the 5-man rod. To win the game, the players have to keep passing and shooting as quickly as they can!

Rule No# 4: Control The Use of Bad Language

This foosball rule isn’t usually followed in friendly matches and arcades but, is indeed a good practice to control language during the game. Foosball is considered a family game as well, which is why they use of foul or inappropriate language can cost you a goal. This rule is usually applied in tournaments or even in family matches involving kids.  

If a team uses bad language it gets a disadvantage that the opponent will get to shoot a penalty shot with his 3-man rod to score a goal. This means that the use of abusive language can make you lose your game.

Rule No# 5: Refrain from spinning

This is one of the most talked-about foosball rules as it not only annoys the opposing team but is also illegal according to the game rules. spinning the rod means rotating the rod in a full circle of 360 degrees without moving or passing the ball forward. Few foosball shots and techniques require higher rotation but none of them requires moving the whole rod completely. Spinning is even not allowed before the match and not after the game starts.

If a team is caught spinning their rod, they have to give the ball control to their opponent and the other team gets to shoot a penalty shot with their 5-man rod. The best way to avoid spinning is to hold the rod properly and by keeping the hands-on handle all the time.

Rule No#6: Dealing with The Dead Ball

This happens a lot of times in a foosball game. At times it just happens accidentally and at times teams do it intentionally to disrupt the natural game

A dead ball is a situation where the ball gets into an unreachable place on the table where no team and get it out from. This place can be anywhere on any side of the table but where players cannot touch it. If the ball enters the dead space near the 5-man rod then, it will be placed close to the 2-man rod at the spot where it was last at, before going into the dead zone and the game will be restarted.

At times, players use this trick to restart the game or for use it as an advantage, for that the penalty is that this team will lose the ball control and the other team will get it.

Rule No#7: No Jarring on The Table

This foosball rule was made for aggressive players and cheaters. Jarring refers to any act that results in lifting the table or any movement apart from the rod causing the ball to move, which is not permissible.

This is a serious offense during a tournament or in a friendly match which can be a result of aggression or can simply be a cheap trick to win.

Penalties for jarring if happened once can get the opponent an advantage of shooting a penalty shot with his 5-man rod or gaining the ball control. If jarring happens a second time from the same team, the opponent gets to shoot a penalty shot from his 3-man rod, which is pretty advantageous in a tournament. After the jarring is caught, the ball is repositioned to the place it was before it happened.

Rule No# 8: Ball Out of Play

 This also happens many times after hitting the ball too aggressively. If a ball is hit so fast that it goes out-of-play or out of the board, or jump and touch the top trail and get back. This is not permissible according to foosball rules. This ball is repositioned and the last team that scored a goal will get the chance to hit this ball first to start the game.

Rule No# 9: Some other penalties

Apart from the rules and penalties listed above, few other penalties can cost you to lose the ball if you break the rules. 

  • Players are not allowed to take their hands off their rod handles at any point in the game
  • The ball should not go out of the table bounds at any point.
  • Any kind of contact with the opposing team during the match is not permissible
  • Delaying the game event is against the rules
  • If at any point, the opposing team tries to take the opponent’s hand off the handle to prevent goal is not allowed. This will award a goal to the opposing team.

Rule No# 10: Don’t Distract Your Opponent

It may not seem serious but distracting your opponent intentionally or unintentionally can cost you’re your game. This is a serious offense and has penalties. Distractions include acts like talking loudly, irritating the opponent, any sort of distracting movements or actions, or even burping. Distractions are not treated as harshly as other rule violations but a warning is given to the team trying to distract their opponent’s team. If the distraction continuous, the opposing team might even get control of the game. If a goal is scored only because the other team got distracted from the actions of the opposing team, that goal will not be counted.


Foosball is indeed a game for competitive gamers, however, rules and guidelines may seem too much to adhere to in friendly matches. But, these rules do add a little spice of challenge into the match. It’s usually up to the player and depends on the capacity in which the match is conducted. They may not be critically applied in every arcade or friends group but, they make a huge difference in the playing strategy of professional fooser. You can learn or use numerous tips and tricks that are used by pro-foosers. These tricks can be used to get you an edge over the opponent to ensure a quick win- without breaking any rules! As they say, practice makes a player perfect!