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5 Basics of Foosball that will Help any Beginner

By KC Watkins

The Foosball Beginner

This page is aimed at the beginner, the novice to foosball. To all of the new employees, new students, new friends, or those that have a new bar to hang out that has a table, this is for you.

To those of you that already know something about foosball, don’t shoot the messenger, this is really for your friends that can use the knowledge. But you should read on, maybe you’ll find some little foosball nugget you didn’t know.

I am not at the pro level but I do play with several people that have logged their 10,000 hours. And sometimes I can even hold my own, so I thought I would pass on some things I’ve picked up from these players.

Whatever your reason for wanting to start playing. I’ve gathered together five basic skills that anyone beginning to play foosball should learn. To make the game more fun for you, at very the least.

OK, the first thing most people want to know is how to shoot. Ah, human nature, aggressive, attacking, gotta shoot me something. So, let’s do that first.

The Shot

Your basic push or pull shot

Move the ball along with the side of the man, then as you are moving, tilt the man forward so that the foot moves backwards to behind the plane of the ball.

Continue pushing/pulling the man until it gets behind the ball, now tilt the man back, moving the foot forward, hitting the ball. Easy peasy.

You want to shoot on the move to confuse the defender and get around them to make more of your shots.

There are other shots that you can learn, but this is the basic shot even the pros use. You can use it for every position and it will do till you level up in your foosball skills.

 Control The Ball

The second thing I would suggest learning for the beginning of your offense, is to learn the side to side action where you are pushing and pulling the ball with the side of the man.

When you finally do catch the ball, being able to move it from man to man is a huge advantage over standing still or letting free roll take it wherever.

Start at the right hand three man. Simply put a ball against the side of the middle man and push/pull the rod to move the ball, then stop, letting the ball roll towards another man. As it is about to make contact move the man towards the ball to strike it back towards the original man, and repeat. Then when you want to stop the ball; as it approaches a man move that man away from the ball in the direction of travel to absorb the momentum.

I chose this video because it is not the perfect ti-tac. This is good thou, pay attention to how the ball is corralled by reaching forwards and backwards, and using the corner of the foot to bring the ball back in line.

The Five-man

The five man is the unsung hero, the hidden battle ground, where foosball games are won and lost. This is such a complicated position that it deserves its own page. (future link)

The third thing I would suggest learning as soon as possible, is to move the ball side to side on the five-rod. It’s the left hand so it will take longer for most people to get comfortable using it for offense. And the men are spaced tightly making it easy to tic-tac but difficult to move the ball from man to man along the rod.

Try not to get frustrated. Try practicing the side to side action with skipping a man and then practice moving the ball up and down the 5-rod.


It’s time to talk about defense to give some balance to your foosball game. The fourth thing I want to cover is the five-man defense. The five-man is a very complicated and important part of the game that will take time to learn. So you need to start working on it as soon as you can.

The best defensive use of the five-man to remember, is don’t flail the men front to back but to move the men side to side, with their foot pointed down at the field, angled forward or backwards.

When defending against the goalie shooting away; move side to side, and keep the range of motion smaller, so your goalie can defend just one or two holes in your line. More on five-rod technique here. (future link)

The next thing that should be covered about defense is the goalkeeper. The goalie works both rods in tandem to keep the ball out of the goal. That is one of the keys to working goalie, keep two men working together to cover as much of the goal as you can. In a way working side by side with a small space between them.

And I will end with some bonus knowledge for the goalie. While you are playing goalie, if you can keep junk shots from falling in and capture the ball when it comes into your end of the table, then you are doing two of the five jobs you should be doing. In the beginning, these two things may be more important than stopping shots on goal.

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