foosball rules for beginners

Foosball Rules For Beginners: Learn How To Play In Minutes

Foosball is a game often associated with pub culture.

True, this could be how the game started initially.

With time, however, it has made its way to people’s home and is a popular addition to game rooms.

As popular as foosball is, many of its players have no idea how to play the real sport. 


Well, of course, anyone can get by on a slop game.

You might even end up winning quite often.

However, instead of relying on slop to win games, wouldn’t it be much easier to learn the rules of the game, then you can better plan and strategize to win? 

Official Foosball Rules: Learn The Basics

Rule 1

The first rule in foosball has to do with who gets to serve the foosball.

This decision is made by the toss of a coin whereby each player or team declare their side before flipping the coin.

The winner of the coin toss not only gets to serve first, but they also get to choose their preferred side of the table.

Rule 2

If it isn’t the first game, perhaps the game encountered a dead ball or the ball was out of play, then the player who gets to serve is the one who scored last in the previous game.

A dead ball is whereby the ball comes to a stop on the table at a point where either player cannot reach it.

Rule 3

Only when there is a dead ball are the players allowed to reach into the table with their hands.

Otherwise, when a ball is in play, never reach into the table.

Likewise, when the ball is in play, do not move, jar, bump the table or bang against its sides.

Rule 4

When a ball becomes airborne over the table, it is considered still in play, so make no mistake of catching a flying ball.

Such a ball is still in play until it hits an object that’s no part of the foosball table playing area such as a light fixture, for instance.

Rule 5

Once a game has started the ball should remain in motion until the end of the play.

This could be until the ball is hit off the table, a dead ball is declared, a time out is called or until a goal is scored.

Rule 6

If you are taking long to strategize a move, then know that you only limited time to shoot or pass the ball.

Particular time limits govern how long the ball can stay stationary in one spot on the table.

When the ball is one the 5-player rod, the time limit is 10 seconds and when the ball is on any of the other rods, the time limit is 15 seconds.

Rule 7

Each team or player is only allowed two time-outs per game, and each time out shouldn’t exceed 30 seconds.

If the ball is in play, then a time-out can only be called by the player who has possession of the ball and only if the ball is completely stationary at the time.

If the ball is not in play, then any player can call for a time-out.

Rule 8

Do not spin the rods. Spinning in foosball is an illegal move, and a spin is defined as when the rod makes a 360° rotation before striking the ball or 360° after hitting the ball.

If a player happens to make a goal after having spun the rod, then this goal is invalidated, and so it doesn’t count.

Rule 9

There are specific passing rules which only apply to the 5-man foosball rods. If a ball comes to a complete stop on the 5-man rod, then it cannot be passed forward to the 3-man rod.

First, the ball has to touch at least two men on the 5-man rod before it can be advanced to the next rod. 

This rule does not apply to a ball whose motion has stopped. In such an instance, the ball can be passed legally as long as the pass is immediate. Any hesitation before the pass will have it declared illegal.

If a stopped ball deflects off a player’s 3-man rod, then it is not considered an illegal pass from the same team’s 5-man rod. As long as the ball was not caught, and it is evident that this wasn’t a controlled pass by the 3-man rod. 

Rule 10

Any legal shots that go into the goal are counted as points. If the ball enters the goal but then comes out back onto the playing field or leaves the table altogether, this still counts as a valid score.

Typically, a match consists of 5 games, so the winner has to win three out of the five games. To win a game, a player or team has to be the first to score 5 points.

Rule 11

Once a game ends, players are allowed to switch sides before the next one starts.

If they agree to switch sides the first time around, then they must continue doing so after each game.

In between games, the players are allowed a rest time of 90 seconds maximum.

Is Spinning Against the Rules in Foosball?

Yes. In foosball, it is illegal to spin the rods.

By definition, spinning is when any soccer figure rotates more than 360° before or after striking the ball. Each spin is considered individually.

So, you do not add up the degrees spun before hitting the ball and the degrees spun after striking the ball.

If an illegal spinning of the rods has advanced the ball, then the opposing team is advantaged.

The opposing team has the choice to continuing play from the ball’s current position or serving the ball.

Note that a spin is only considered illegal if it leads to an advancement of the ball. If your rods are spun but do not strike the ball, then this is not considered an illegal spin.

However, it may be ruled as a distraction to the opposing player or team.

How Many Players Can Play Foosball?

Foosball tables come in different sizes, and so the number of players on each team would depend on the size of the table.

Two individuals can play the game, or four people can play it. In casual games, it is not uncommon to find teams comprising three or four players meaning the match has a total of six or eight players.

Like any other sport, a 2-player game is called singles, and a 4-player game is called doubles.

In singles play, the players get to control all the rods on their team. In doubles play, each team comprises two people on either side of the table. In such a scenario, two people are controlling the rods on one side of the table.

To avoid confusion, the typical way to do it is for one player to control the defensive rods while the teammate controls the midfield and attack rods.

Can You Score with The Five Man in Foosball?

Yes, a legal score can be made using the 5-man rod.

This is often a common misconception among people who play for fun and so have never gotten to understand the proper rules of the game.

A ball that enters the goal counts as a point as long as it was scored legal.

There are a couple of rules which can nullify a goal such as spinning the rod, but there is nothing wrong with a score from the 5-man rod.

A player can shoot from the 5-man bar at any time provided the ball is in motion and legally in play. If the ball has just been served; however, it first has to touch two men before it can be advanced for a shot or pass.

Is A Goalie Shot in Foosball 2 Points?

No, it is not. A goalie shot in foosball is worth one point.

Any player can score a goal in foosball. Each goal is one point, regardless of which player made the shot. A common misconception is that the goalie shot is worth two points, but this is not an official rule.

Another unofficial rule which some people play by is awarding the “Goalie Delight.”

This is whereby instead of having the next ball served, as usual, it is instead dropped in a player’s defensive zone.

The idea of awarding 2 points for a goalie’s shot and the concept of a Goalie’s Delight are quite popular beliefs, but they are both unofficial foosball rules.

Unofficial rules may be used in recreational play as long as the players all agree to go by the specific rule. However, if you are playing a regular game or a tournament, then you have to follow the official foosball rules.

What Is Jarring in Foosball?

Jarring is when a player slides or lifts the table while the ball is in play. It could also be as a result of the player slamming their rods against the wall of the foosball table.

If a movement results in the displacement of the ball or distraction of the opponent, then this is considered jarring. Whether done intentionally, or accidentally, jarring is an illegal move, and it attracts a penalty.

Typically, players accumulate jars throughout the match. A first and second jarring offense results in the ball possession being given to the opponent but subsequent violations result in a technical foul.

If you touch an opponent’s rod or come into contact with it in any way whatsoever, then this is still considered jarring, and it is penalized the same way.

Best Professional Foosball Tables 


Some foosball rules are a little complicated and are better suited to tournament play. However, other rules are pretty basic and are applicable even when playing recreationally.

Whichever kind of player you consider yourself to be, it would work in your favor to be conversant with at least the basic rules.  

Knowing the foosball rules will help you play like a champ, and you can even enjoy the game now that you understand it better.