Playing foosball often seems easy and pretty straightforward. However, like real soccer, foosball is a mental game and requires skill. You can spend hours hammering the ball when playing games with your friends and not make any real progress.
Generally, it takes time, constant practice and patience to hone your skills and become a good player. To make it easier for you, we have compiled this comprehensive guide of all the necessary tips and information you need to improve your table soccer skills and playing technique. Be sure to buy a quality table as they do vary greatly.
Whether you are a beginner or you just want to take your game to the next level, these tips will help boost your performance and as well give you that competitive advantage against your opponents. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Grip and Stance
Regardless of the game you are playing, for fun or competition, the first thing you want to ensure when it comes to improving your gameplay is to know how to properly grip your foosball handle.
Each side of a foosball table contains four rods which control 13 playing figures. It’s through pulling, pushing and turning of the rods that you are able to control the figures. Therefore, a proper grip is important as it affects your overall performance including your speed and accuracy.
The mistake that most first players make is to hold the handle too tightly particularly when the pressure mounts and the game gets really competitive. Holding the handle tightly will ultimately decrease your performance.
You need to maintain a relaxed grip so as to facilitate a maximum range of movement as well as enhanced speed. There are basically two main ways you can hold the handle to ensure both comfort and control.
This is a very common grip and it involves wrapping your hand around the handles and turning the rod by rotating the wrist clockwise and anti-clockwise.
Open Palm Grip
In open palm grip, you hold the handle with both your thumb and finger pointing towards the floor. Basically, the handle needs to touch the middle of the palm and you roll the rod by moving your hand either up or down.
Both techniques are easy to learn and give your great control over the players. Therefore, you can choose the one that suits you, but if want more power especially when making shots, then the open palm grip is ideal.
Generally, the main idea here is to keep your grip soft and controlled. It should be firm but just loose enough to allow for quick adjustments and maneuvers. You also want to avoid standing up straight with both feet parallel to the foosball table as this makes you stiff.
You should open your stance a little bit so as to free up your right arm and allow you to respond quickly and generate more power.
Passing the Ball
Passing is the key to executing a good offense in foosball. It’s where the magic happens. You have to keep your opponent guessing by methodically moving the ball forward and creating better scoring positions.
You need to spend much time learning how to pass the ball amongst your players to ensure you keep the ball in possession. The best way to do this is through side to side passings or passing the ball back and forth until you are able to slip it forward via a wall or lane to your offensive players.
Keeping the ball in possession by passing it back and forth and side to side, you are in a good position to confuse your opponent and open up defensive gaps. You should also work on passing the ball back to your defensive players as this will as well help open up the field giving you more chances of making long shots or forward passes.
Generally, by taking your time and keeping possession, you are able to build your game and advance the ball forward smoothly for an attack when necessary. It’s an ideal way to create scoring chances and keeping your opponent confused.
Ball control is vital as it affects your ability to keep possession. Better control often leads to longer ball possession and results to more scoring opportunities. It’s one of the things that will ultimately distinguish a pro from an amateur player.
One of the best ways to gain good ball control is pinning the ball while planning your next move. When the ball approaches your player, try to angle him back slightly. This way, you get to catch the ball more easily and keep it trap beneath the player.
Pinning generally gives you more control over the ball and from the pinning position, you are able to execute a pass and even a shot easily and quickly. While practicing how to pin the ball, ensure you master both front and back pins so that you are able to catch the ball when it comes from either direction.
Before you proceed to attack, it’s important that you hone your defense skills first. Knowing how to defend properly at foosball can make a big difference in your overall performance. When playing defense, keep your goalie and the two-man rod in sync. You should use them as a unit.
Basically the purpose of these two rods is to block your opponent shorts and prevent them from scoring. You can achieve this in two ways:
You should use both the goalie and the two-man rods to cut off angles and close gaps. One of the ways to achieve this is to set the playing figures on the two rods slightly angled towards each other.
The feet of the goalie line players should be at 7 o’clock while that of the two-man rod should be at 5 o’clock. Aligning the playing figures this way will form a V angle and as such reduce the space between the two rods where the ball can pass through if shot at an angle.
Ensure the V angle is not great enough or the ball will go through. It should not be more than a ball’s width. You can also widen the space between the two-man rod and the goalie to cut your opponents angle when he tries to shoot from the side.
Staggering the Players
Another effective way of blocking more paths to your goal is by moving the playing figures from side to side. When doing this, you want to make sure that the players in both rods are not in line with each other as you will be covering the same space twice leaving one side exposed for attack.
Stagger them side to side such that they are spread out and defending the maximum space possible. Use the two rods wisely.
Shooting & Scoring
Once you have mastered how to defend and how to pass, the final things to focus on are attacking and shooting. You can’t win a game without scoring goals and in order to score a goal you need to sharpen your shooting skills. There are two key things to do here:
Master One Shooting Technique
Most advanced foosball players tend to use different shooting techniques to score during a match. If you want to get better at foosball, don’t be tempted to do this during your game, especially if you are just starting out.
A more effective approach would be to use a single shot technique that works for you at first and stick with it. Whether it’s a pull or short push shot, the main object here is to score goals. You don’t want to spend too much time and effort trying to come up with a special shot when a gap opens up in the goal. Your shots need to be quick and precise or else you will miss the chances.
Aim for Corners and Angles
The three-man rod players are your true offense and as such, you should always set them in an angled and ready position. Angled so as to receive and retain control over the ball as much as possible. If you keep them too straight, the ball will just bounce off them and you will lose possession.
When trying to score, avoid taking straight forward shots through gaps as much as possible. Aim for the corners and shoot at angles because like in real soccer, the shots that target far corners are often more effective and very hard to defend against. Therefore, try as much as possible to aim for the left and right sides of the goal.
Some foosball tables include a serving cup and some don’t. If you don’t have a serving cup, you can try to use this serving method to gain a better chance of gaining possession. the more advanced back-spin serving method.
To apply the back-spin serving method, place your thumb on the left side of the ball. Then push down as you push it to the right side and through the hole. If properly applied, the ball will stop and roll backwards towards your five-man rod when it hits the surface.
When you have mastered a few of these tips and tactics then you may want to try your hand at some trick shots. Some of these trick shots may not score you a goal, but they are sure to impress your friends.
The Bottom Line
Spending your time to improve on each of the areas I’ve mentioned above can immensely transform your game and allow you to have more fun when playing. You should set some time to improve on each part and with every match you play, your game will get better as your skills continue to progress to greater heights. Learn the ins and outs of the game. Knowing the rules will also help your game.
TIP: It takes practice and patience to elevate your game