Playing Spoiler Logo

How to Play Foosball by the Rules

We’re an affiliate

We are a reader-supported website and strive to recommend only the best products. Just so you know, we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use our links, we really appreciate you!

Foosball is described either as a game or a sport. While some play it as a reflection of soccer, the enthusiasts take it seriously in that there are professionals. However, despite the level of experience you could have in this game, everyone ends up having a fun time playing. Just like any other game, there are applicable rules to streamline how the game runs.

Foosball is commonly played in a variety of locations. The most common being a sports bar or at someone’s home. If you’re currently looking for a foosball table for your home or game room, take a look at this article to find the best foosball tables for your home. Having a foosball table at home can be a great source of entertainment and competition. It takes very little equipment and is worth the investment (see How Much Does a Foosball Table Cost?).

A conventional game of foosball has two participants, and the first to score five goals is declared the winner. Although it sounds like a walk in the park, the game is very involving (learn some of the top foosball strategies to help you win). In other instances, there are doubles games with two players on both sides, and one player from each team controls the defensive rods. The last type is the goalie war. It is almost the same as singles, but in this case, the players only use the defense rods and not the other middle rods. Below are the standard rules that each player has to follow.

Rules for Playing Foosball

Hand flipping coinFlipping the Coin

For the game to commence, any of the players has to flip a coin. The players first agree whether a head or tail will determine if the player goes first or not. In the event of scoring the first goal, the team which scored last gets the opportunity to serve first. The flipping rule is vital as it fairly allocates the ball to players in regards to their performance. It also helps to create a peaceful game.

No Spinning Or Jarring

Spinning is a situation where the rod turns to achieve a 360 degrees angle without being in contact with the ball. According to the rules, it is an illegal move. Jarring, on the other hand, refers to a situation where a player hits their rods against the walls. Players do this to get the ball from their opponent. Although it might seem similar to when a player moves their rod back and forth for defense, there is no use of force in this case. Therefore all the participants have to be careful as this move has consequences.

5 Bar Passing

The main rule that applies to a pass is no spinning. Each player has only ten seconds to either shoot or pass the foosball to the next position. While the game allows you to shoot and even score using your 5 bar, you should focus on passing the ball to the offensive 3 bar. However, unlike the other rods, the moving rules set for the 5 bar are quite different.

After completion of the initial serve, you have a maximum of 15 seconds to make a pass from the 5 bar. During the move, the ball cannot get stopped; otherwise, it is a fail. It should be on the move until it touches two men at the 5 bar before it can move to the next place. Also, the foosball should only contact the walls of the table two times before it touches a man on the 5 bar again. However, during a pass, it is allowed to touch the ball at least three times.

Foosball man holding ball on sideDead Balls

Whenever the foosball gets caught amid the two opponents’ rods, the ball gets removed from that position. The team which did not make the last score then takes the serve. In cases where the dead ball happens on the defensive just behind the 2 bar, the player on that side has to take the foosball into a playing position. The objective of this rule is to prevent players from intentionally causing dead balls to create a reserve.

Additionally, there are situations where a ball gets out of the foosball table and hits the rail. Whether it returns to the table or not, the ball is ruled out of play. The ball has to be out of reach for each of the players. Here the team that didn’t make the last score gets a chance to reserve. The rule is applicable, whether it was accidental or not.

You are not allowed to touch the foosball field using your hands when the game is in progress unless there is a declaration of a dead ball. Furthermore, you shouldn’t touch your opponent’s rods at all. For a score to be successful, the ball has to enter the goal. Even if it bounces out of the target after the score, it is still a point.


As seen above, the rules of play are quite simple and understandable. Their goal is to make the game more competitive and also fair. During a match, unexpected things can happen. These rules are in place to have standardized responses in place to account for these unforeseen events. On many occasions, there is never a need for officials to watch over the game, except in competitive tournament play. Both parties must be knowledgeable about all the rules available and play within those rules to promote a fair and rewarding game experience.