Foosball is one of the most popular table games in the world. People play it in international tournaments, local competitions, and with friends and family. Regardless of the circumstances, foosball can be very competitive and disagreements on rules can arise. These are the United States Table Soccer Association rules and regulations.
Official Foosball Rules:
- A coin toss will decide who will serve first and who will be on which side.
- The player who lost the point will be the one who serves.
- During a serve, a players hand must not go into the playing area.
- If the ball bounces out of the playing area the ball is re-served by the last person who served.
- Both players must be ready to play before the ball is served.
- If there is a dead ball then the ball will be re-served by the last server.
- 2 30 second time-outs can be called any time not during game play twice during 1 game.
- Spinning the rods is not legal.
- Jarring the table in any way will either be re-served or the offending player will be given a technical foul.
The Coin Toss
Before we even start playing the game there are a couple of things we need to establish. A coin flip is the traditional way to make any decision in any game. In a foosball coin flip, the person who wins gets to decide if they want to pick their own side or if they want to serve first. The person who loses gets the other option (If you’re playing a coin operated table the loser pays for the first round and then they alternate).
When a player makes a goal the player that lost the point is the one that will serve next. This goes on until the specified amount of point needed to win is reached. This amount can differ depending on the tournament you participate in or what you and your friend decided on.
Serving The Ball
To serve in foosball the server drops the ball into a hole in the side of the middle of the table. It’s legal for the server to attempt to control where the ball goes once it’s through the hole as long as their fingers or any other part of their body doesn’t go through the hole. No hands are allowed in the play area once the ball is in play.
The server is allowed to put spin on the ball but if the ball goes into the goal without the server’s players hitting it the point doesn’t count. If during play the ball bounces out of the field the player that served last will re-serve the ball.
If the opponent of the server is not ready for the ball to be served then they can’t serve it. In tournaments the server taps the ball on the edge of the table to indicate they are about to serve. If their opponent is holding their handles they are saying they are ready unless they say that they aren’t.
A dead ball is when the ball stops between rods in a spot where no player is within reach. When this happens between the goal and the two-man rod the ball will be placed in the nearest corner of the goal so that the goalie can resume play when their opponent is ready. If there is a dead ball anywhere else on the field then the person who served this round will serve the ball.
If the ball is spinning in place this is not considered a dead ball because there’s a possibility that it will move within reach. Once it stops, if it’s still not within reach then it’s a dead ball. When a player purposely puts the ball out of reach the opposing player has the choice of either re-serving it or continuing play in the same position.
Two time outs are allowed for each team which are called when the ball isn’t in play. You can call a time out during play only if you have control of the ball and you stopped it or if neither team has control of the ball like with a dead ball. Time outs are typically 30 seconds long.
If you’re in between games (example 2nd out of 5) then this time out will count towards the following game and not the new one. You can call time out or you can indicate a time out by letting go of the handles and turning away when the ball is stopped. Players can let go of the handles for a few seconds to wipe their hands off without it counting as a time out.
A foul occurs if more than two time outs are called in one game but they are given the 30 seconds time out regardless. Players are allowed to do anything they need to do during this time which can include greasing the rods and players.
What’s Not Allowed
Great foosball players avoid spinning the rods because it’s almost impossible to control what the ball does when you hit it with such power. In professional foosball, doing this is also illegal. If a player does this and it goes into their opponents goal it doesn’t count as a point and it will be re-served. If it goes into their own goal it counts as a point for the opposing team.
Jarring the table in any way will result in a re-serve but if done repeatedly will get a technical foul. If there’s an official present they have the option of resetting the ball to its position before the table was jarred. Sliding the rods too fast or applying excessive force during the game can jar the table.
Spinning and jarring can also constitute as distractions. If a point is scored because of the distraction the point won’t count and if it’s used repeatedly it can count as a technical foul. Taking you hand off the rod before making a shot can also count as a distraction. Hands must be on the rod for at least one full second before a shot can be taken.
Technical fouls can be given if any of the above rules have been violated. A technical foul lets the offended team take one free shot at their opponents goal from their three-man rod. If the goal is made they continue the game from the spot the foul was called at. If they don’t make the goal the play will resume after the shot is taken and misses the goal.
However, all the rules still apply during a technical shot. If during a technical shot the player breaks one of these rules and gets a goal the point doesn’t count and play continues where the technical foul was given.
Equipment Size Regulations
- Table: In professional foosball, the table must be 56 inches long, 30 inches wide, and 36 inches tall unless otherwise specified for competitions.
- Rods: Each team gets a total of 4 rods; one 5-man (40 ¼ inches), two 3-man (44 ½ inches), and one 2-man rod (49 ½ inches)
- Ball: Balls can range from 34-35 mm in diameter. Weight can vary but hey are typically 24 grams depending on their material.
Are There Other Types of Foosball Games?
There are actually a couple different games you can play with a foosball table that are recognized by the USTSA; goalie war, four on four, two-ball rollerball, and forward shootout.
Goalie War: This game is played basically the same was as regular foosball but without the player’s 3 and 5-man rods. A player starts off their serve with the ball in reach of their 2-man rod. All the other rules still apply to this game.
Four on Four: This foosball event is when there are four players for every team. Each player gets one rod to use and must rotate to different rods after their team scores a point.
Two-Ball Rollerball: This is a special event where instead of one ball there are two balls that are served at a time. Each player serves one ball and they must be served within the same second.
Forward Shootout: This single-player team event is when each opponent takes turns shooting technical foul shots at each other. All the other rules still apply to this game.
Do You Have to Win By Two In Foosball?
Unlike most table games you do not have to win by a certain amount of points in foosball. Because it only requires 5 points to win a round the game could take a larger than necessary amount of time to win the game if this was a required rule.