Foosball Game Rules

Foosball Game Rules: All You Need to Know

The rules of foosball are as simple and easy to understand as the game itself. They can also vary and get modified depending on the country or according to specific groups of players. Before joining a match or a tournament, it’s important to establish and follow the game rules everyone can agree on in order to make any game more enjoyable.

gameamigos players

Even though table soccer is played differently all around the world, there are rules of play that can fall into a universal category. In general terms, it wouldn’t be necessary to learn the official foosball tournament style rules for a casual game with your family and friends, for example.

That’s why there are basic guidelines foosball participants can learn in order to avoid any type of trouble and enjoy the true fun and competitive experience that this game brings. After all, how well we play a game is greatly influenced by how capable we are of following its rules.

The following are the basic instructions that should be obeyed and respected by the players:

Starting the game

Typically (and similar to a real soccer game) tossing a coin is the method used to decide the individual or team that is going to start the game.

Players must ask the opposite side if they are ready to start the game. After both sides are aware of the upcoming serve and have also declared that they are prepared to begin, the ball can get kicked off.

The way the ball is put into the field will depend on the foosball table getting used. It could be through a serve hole that makes it enter across the midfield (if it’s available on either side of the table you’re playing with). Alternatively, the ball can get dropped from above the field. Basically, all the real foosball tables have the serving hole on the side.


A goal shall only count when the ball has been touched by more than a single figure. Players have a limit of 10 seconds to take action when it’s their turn to pass or shoot the ball. If a goal happens without the ball getting touched by at least two foosball men or directly from the service, then the score won’t count.

Pass between two players
Ball has to touch at least two foosmen after the kickoff for the goal to be valid

After a goal is scored, the individual or team scored against will be the one restarting the game. Each team has the right to take a 30-second timeout after goals, and members in a double match can switch positions for the defensive and offensive rods at this time.

This position change can also be done during a declared resting time (mental breaks have great health benefits and could help improve your concentration) or whenever the ball leaves the table or falls in a dead zone.

Dead zone and ball off the table

A ball is considered ‘dead’ when it can’t be reached by any of the men figures, making it inaccessible to both playing teams. After this situation occurs, the team that will make the next service depends on where the “dead zone” is.

dead zone
Dead zone - a place where the ball is on the playing surface but cannot be reached by foosmen.

In case the ball stops on the midfield line, it should be put back into the field for the team that last served to restart the game. If a dead ball happens in any other area of the field, it should be moved to the nearest defending zone for the game to be started from the goalkeeper’s line that belongs to that side of the field.

If the ball flies out of the table, the game will be started again by the opponent that didn’t shoot it out. For the ball to be considered ‘out’, it has to be outside of the foosball table cabinet or above it, in a few words, not touching the surface of the field.

Illegal foosball moves

There are certain techniques that should be avoided with the main purpose of keeping the game fair. One of them is spinning the rods, which is seen as a bad habit common in beginners most frequently. For this reason, spinning the handle 360 degrees before or after kicking the ball or without any figure directly touching it, is against the rules.

Spinning the rods shall get penalized with fouls, and one will get assigned each time an individual makes this illegal move. After a player or team has more than 2 fouls, the opposite side gets to serve the ball and restart the game.

Moving or jarring the foosball table or banging the rods against the sidewalls in order to distract the opposing player or team is considered an illegal action. Other deliberate violations of the rules include acting directly on the table by shaking, raising, tilting it, blocking their opponent’s rods and reaching to the player’s area.

For unintentional illegal moves, the involved player or participants will get penalized with a foul. On the contrary, for intentional ones, a goal will be awarded to the opposite side that was affected by the violations.

Basic foosball rules quick recap

Now that you know the basics, here are the most important takeaways you and your friends should know before starting your next table soccer game so you get a smooth playing experience full of all the joy and fun this game has to offer:

  • Before the first and every serve, players must ask the opposite side if they are ready, only when both sides have declared their readiness, the ball can get kicked off.
  • Participants have a time limit of 10 seconds to perform their next move when the ball is at the reach of their figures.
  • During thirty-second breaks after a goal is scored, declared time-out or whenever there’s a “dead ball”, players shall change positions (in the case of 2 vs 2 matches)
  • If the ball doesn’t get touched by at least two figures, a goal won’t count. This also applies if a score is made directly, right after serving.
  • When the ball gets stuck in a “dead zone” the way that it gets put back into the field depends on the area the ball stopped at. It is also the only time players can reach into the field to get the ball without this action being illegal.
  • In case the ball flies out of the table, the player that shoots it out shall let their opponent make the next serve to restart the game.
  • Spinning the rods before or after touching the ball, jarring the table, or doing any deliberate moves to distract the opposite team isn’t allowed. These actions can get penalized.

Have you and your friends ever created house rules for your foosball matches? Share them down below!

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