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So you want to play some serious Foosball, perhaps even host some sort of a tournament with your friends and family, but nobody knows the actual rules of Foosball. Sure, most people are familiar with what a Foosball table is, with its iconic rods and little plastic figures, but very few people know the basic rules of the game besides trying to get the ball into the other players’ net.

Some people take Foosball pretty seriously, and there are some strict rules that determine the winners of tournaments and competitive play. Below is a quick outline of the basic rules of Foosball, so that your tournament or competition runs smoothly and there’s no falling out. Plus everyone will then have fun playing this surprisingly skillful and engaging table game.

The Coin Flip

All games start with a coin flip to decide who throws the first serve. After this first serve, it is always the team that got scored against that gets to throw the next serve to resume play. The ball is dropped between the two opposing center rods of 5 figures, and the ball must touch at least one figure for a goal to count.

More upmarket tables have a cup and a hole at the side of the tavble and the ball is launched from this slot. It’s actually possible to benefit your own team with the serve, by sending the ball in the direction of your 5 man rod. This is not against the rules either.

Don’t Spin The Rods

A big mistake of many novice players is to wildly spin the rods so that the figures turn more than 360 degrees all the way around, and some players are even worse with their figures wildly spinning so ferociously that it distracts from the subtlety of the game. A full 360 rotation of a rod without touching the ball is illegal, and the player forfeits a service as a result.

Don’t Jar The Rods

Jarring is the act of slamming the rods into the side of the table in an attempt to knock the ball loose from another player’s possession or distract that player’s attention. This is a pretty subjective rule, so it is important to have an impartial, and mostly sober, referee overseeing each game.

A Dead Ball Situation

A dead ball occurs when the ball is trapped between two rods and no player can reach it. When a dead ball occurs, the side that was last scored on gets to serve again. If the dead ball happens behind the defender’s two figure rod, then the ball must be put back into play in front of this rod, so that defending players do not try and cause dead balls on purpose.

Ball Jumped Out of Play?

Any ball that leaves the table area or hits the top of the table edge and falls back in is considered out of play, and the side that was last scored on must serve again.

5 Figure Rod Passing

The rules for passing with the 5 figure rod are where the real skill comes into the game. You only have ten seconds after a serve to pass from the 5 rod to the 3 rod, which extends to 15 seconds any time after the serve. A proper pass from the 5 rod to the 3 rod involves the ball never stopping and always touching at least two of the figures on the 5 rod, as well as not touching a wall more than twice before the pass.

The Winner

The winner in any single game is the first to score 5 points within a maximum of 9 serves of the ball.

The Rest is Up to You

These are the basic rules that ensure that a game goes smoothly and is fun for everyone. You can all decide together how many points there will be to a game or how long a game should last. There are also additional official rules which you can see at These include changing sides after each game and switching rods when playing in pairs. You can decide for yourself which of these rules you want to use.

Foosball is a great game because anyone can play and a decent foosball table needn’t set you back that much.There is also an amazing level of skill that people can hone and develop. A Foosball tournament is a great way for everyone to have fun with a little competition, and the winners will still come out feeling like they have really accomplished something.

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