Some play it as a pastime game while the hard-hitting pros play it as a genuine, competitive sport. Just as the actual ‘football’ game played in a real stadium has hordes of fans, so does table Foosball. Unsurprisingly, both Foosball and football fans are rowdy, passionate and well, more rowdy. So, what is Foosball? What are its objectives? What are the rules? What make this an incredibly popular game?
A little history for the curious…
We couldn’t possible answer the question ‘what is Foosball,’ without exploring some history.
Outside of the U.S., football is the name of a game that involves people from two rival teams trying to kick a ball into the other team’s goal, using their legs only. When it is played on a table, it is simply known as table football in most parts of the world. But, in their quest to be different from everyone else, the Americans decided to pronounce it as table ‘Foosball,’ and the name stuck.
It is generally believed that Foosball originated in Europe in the 1880s or 1890s, with history records crediting Harold Searles Thornton, an Englishman, with patenting the first Foosball table around 1923. Lawrence Patterson, an American military man brought the first Foosball to the U.S. in the 1960s while E. Lee Peppard, a Foosball fan, popularized the game into the national craze that it is today.
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Different Styles for Different Foosers
Foosers all over the world have their own distinct playing style. The difference might not be apparent to the casual player, but for the dyed-in-the-wool fooser, these differences are a big deal.
In America, table Foosball is generally rough and hard-hitting. Power and speed is the name of the game. The tables are typically very solid, the Foosball men are made from tough plastic and so is the ball. American Foosball tables have three instead of one goalie, making for a continuous game, as the player is able to kick the ball out of a corner without needing to stop the game.
What's the point
When Foosers are doing what they do best, what does all that hard-hitting, rod spinning mean? The objective in a Foosball game is simply to drive the ball to the other team’s goal. Sounds easy until you only have your hands, four rods and 13 players to do it.
In a typical game, the players maneuver 4 rods on their side of the table in order to control the 13 Foosball men to kick the ball towards your opponent’s side. On the other side of the table is your opponent who also has 4 rods and 13 players trying to keep you from moving the ball toward his goal, as he pushes it towards your goal.
In a basic game, the goal is to score 5 points—the first team to score 5 goals emerges victorious. In other tougher matches, the team that scores the first 2 or 3 goals out of a series of 5 games is the winner.
Types of Games
There are different types of game variations depending on the level of challenge you are looking for.
This is the basic variation and most players gravitate towards this type of game. There’s one player vs. player with each player controlling 4 rods on their end of the table.
As the name suggests, this name entails two players on each team with one player controlling the defensive rods on the left hand, while his teammate controls the offensive 3-bar and 5-bar. The same happens with the two players on the other side of the table.
In a goalie war, there’s just one player on each side with each one controlling the defensive rods and leaving the middle four rods unused throughout the game.
Rules of Foosball
So, a game of Foosball can get a little too raucous. But several rules help to minimize unsportsmanlike behavior and to keep it fair among the players. In competitive professional games, there is an entire list of rules enforced by officials. But in causal games, players understand the rules and officiate the game on their own, each respecting the set boundaries.
The basic rules are:
- No spinning the rods
- No distracting your opponent
- No foul language or behavior
- No moving the table
Admittedly, Foosball is not the easiest of games you will come across. You will likely need hours of practice and just watching other people play before you can get the gist of the game. The rule of thumb is to understand the objectives of the game, get the rules straight and. But do not just get stuck on the theoretical part of it, jump in and play actual games for you to become the experienced Fooser you would like to be.