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Foosball Rules – The Basics (How To Play) Plus Tournament Rules

When it comes to foosball, there’s the basic “at-home” rules, and then there are competition, tournament rules.

Let’s find out how to play foosball by the rules!

The Basic Start Rules to a Friendly Foosball Match

Although this table game, Foosball, was invented in England by Harold S. Thornton, it quickly became a popular American pastime. His idea brought to life a table with steel poles that lined up and was inserted across the top of the table and could be controlled by the player’s fast hand motions.

A few more basic aspects to this game are that attached to the poles are the kickers, and then the ball lays in the hollow part of the table. The goals are at each end.

On each side of the table, you will notice four poles with grips that you will control. There is a total of eight poles on each side, but the only ones you move on your side are the ones with the handgrips and vice-versa for your competitor.

Each player will have 13 kickers. Obviously, they will be painted two different colors, so as not to confuse you.

The basic rules are:

  • Whoever gets five goals first wins.

Pretty simple, right? And for basic rule (at home) foosball, it is pretty much that simple.

Of course, combinations can be played as well – two on two players and maybe set one player on your team to be the goalie.

However, for the rivalry of a fun game, it is up to the players.

Game formats and general rules will come with your foosball set-up, but if you have this game just for BBQs and parties, then the rules are usually that…there are no set rules.

Try to score and don’t be a jerk!

The Start of Complicated Rivalries: Competition Tournament Foosball Rules

In contrast, competition foosball playing has many exceptions to the basic rule. And here is a list of the start-up rules that seem basic but must officially be followed if you are playing in a foosball tournament.

  • A coin toss is typical for any type of game or sport to be played. In this table game whoever wins gets the choice of which side they wish to play on.
  • Table side or first serve will be chosen by the winner of the coin toss. However, once the decision is made it cannot be changed.
  • Serve the ball through the serving hole and then the match will begin
  • When the server releases the ball no adjustments can be made to the position of where it falls.
  • It will be an illegal serve if the server’s hand is not removed before the ball hits the field.
  • Players will not jump to moving until the ball hits the field.
  • Time starts on the game when the ball is in play.

With these rules in mind, you must also keep aware of how to prevent penalties while the game is in play. Nevertheless, here are a few penalties that may be deemed as accidental:

  • Keep up with which team is up to serve the ball or no matter how long the ball has been in play when the discovery is made that a false start has been made, the play will start again.
  • While in play, if the ball leaves the field of play and bounces on any part of the table or floor, then the ball will be called out of play and whichever team served it will serve it again.
  • If the ball, in fact, is called a dead ball, which means it totally stopped moving then the opposing team will make the choice whether to put it back into play at current position or re-serving the ball.

As with any type of tournament competition the rules are many and can get very confusing. Even so, with some, it will only take a player’s ability to use a little common sense. Here are a few common-sense penalties that could occur and one complicated rule to remember:

  • No Spinning – This can happen when you make an illegal 360 turn of your pole.
  • No Jarring – This is thrusting your rod against the table in order to distract your opponent or obtain illegal possession of the ball.
  • 5 bar passing – is not so much a common-sense penalty to watch for but a complicated rule that is directed to the 5 bar. Basically, with this rule, you must pass the bar to the 3 bar within 10 seconds right after a serve.

A Time-Out Rule to Remember While Playing Tournament Foosball Games

When playing a game, each team is allowed two time-outs.

You, or you and your team, may leave the table, but for no longer than 30 seconds.

Here is where the time-out rule can get a little complicated.

The team or player in possession of the ball at the time the ball is in play are the only ones who can call for one of their time-outs. The ball must have come to a complete stop to do so.

However, if no one has started the ball in play yet, then either team can go ahead and call one of their time-outs.

Besides this basic rule of time-out, there are many more time-out tips to follow under the USTSA Foosball tournament rules.

Also, you should remind yourself to practice before a tournament starts, not during any time-outs or between games that you are scheduled to play. If you break this rule it is considered a penalty and you will be penalized by the official at the table.

Foosball is Two-Ruled: Simple and Official

As discussed in this article, foosball may be played during family fun nights with no set rules or it can be taken way more seriously and played tournament style with many rules to follow.

No matter which way you prefer to play it, it will no doubt continue to be one of the favorite table games all over the world.

Even though in today’s world, we have escalated gameplay to more technical outlets, the foosball table seems to continue to excite the nostalgic gamers who like to keep active during gameplay instead of interactive through a TV or computer screen.

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