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Foosball Buyers Guide

Written by: Air Hockey Geek

Adding a foosball table to your family room, rec room, school, small business, or your man cave can allow you to enjoy your favorite game, anytime you want. However, buying this type of gaming table can be pricey. There’s no doubt that buying a new foosball table should be considered a serious investment, especially if you’re purchasing a full-sized model to add to your game room. These tables are available in a variety of sizes, and they’re made out of a wide range of materials. The important thing here is to know exactly what features and materials can indicate quality, so you don’t end up with a table that’s not able to withstand heavy use or one that can’t survive the kids. Below, you’ll find all the information you need to know to pick out the best table for you and your family.

Basic Components

If you’re new to the game, then you may not know much about the basic foosball rules, how the game is played, or what makes it so popular with players in every age group. The objective of the game is to sink a ball into your opponent’s goal by maneuvering players that are mounted onto rods, causing them to pass and propel the ball forward, across the table into the opposition’s goal. Each table has eight rods total, with each player controlling a total of four rods. These rods will come equipped with thick grips that will allow you to switch from rod to rod quickly. To control the players, all you have to do is flick your wrists and do your best to move the ball across the table to the opposing goal. While this may sound simple, to win, you need to know how to smoothly and quickly get past the opponent’s line of defense.

One of the best things about this game is the fact that people of all ages can enjoy a challenging match. This is a very easy game to learn, but without the right strategy, you’ll find yourself getting creamed time and time again. Fortunately, many of these tables will allow you to play one on one or two on two, so you can practice with a friend or family member before you advance and start playing a more challenging game of two on two.

Playing Field

A playing field’s hardness can determine gameplay speed. Particleboard or solid wood playing fields will have the slowest speed due to their softness. Models that come equipped with a laminate over the playing surface will offer faster ball action. Some models may also come equipped with tempered glass, offering the fastest ball action possible.

Rods

cropped shot

A foosball table will come with rods that stick out of each end, allowing the player to control the men on the playing field. These rods are available in three style options: telescoping, solid, and hollowed-out.

The hollowed-out rods can promote faster shooting action because of their lighter weight. Solid rods can equal a slower reaction time since they’re much heavier, yet they’re also much more durable compared to their hollowed-out counterpart. The telescoping rod is designed with safety in mind. Because these rods do not fully extend out from the table they’re the perfect choice when it comes to protecting children who are standing too close to the table. These rods tend to be more expensive, and less durable compared to solid rods.

Most models will come equipped with rods that are made out of stainless steel. These rods will need to be lubricated from time to time to promote smoother and faster shooting action and to prevent the rods from sticking and slowing you down during a match.

Leg Levelers

This is a feature that’s commonly overlooked, however, it can come in handy if you need to lower the table for shorter players and children, or the table is placed on an uneven surface.

Decals and Graphics

The graphics and decals that are found on foosball tables typically consist of the company’s logo. If you’re looking for a top of the line table, then you want graphics and decals that are dyed or printed onto the table. Avoid tables that have sticker decals and graphics since these will begin to fade and peel over time.

Goalie Design

Goalie rods are available in two different configurations. A one goalie setup is European, while a three-man goalie setup is aimed toward American style foosball. The three-man goalie design will definitely speed up the game’s action, however, it also makes it easier to defend your goal, compared to tables that only have a one-man goalie bar.

Dimensions

A table’s dimensions will give you a good idea of how much playing space you’ll have to work with. Bigger tables that are forty inches or longer can accommodate two on two gameplay. This will definitely be something you want to consider if the whole family wants to join in on the fun. The height of the table will also be important, especially if younger children want to play and the table doesn’t come with leg levelers.

Before you buy a table, you’ll need to consider where you want to place it and exactly how much space you have to work with. Keep in mind, the size of the table doesn’t account for the additional space that will be needed to accommodate the rods when they’re fully extended.

Ball Retrieval

The table’s ball retrieval system involves the internal system that allows you to retrieve the ball that lands in your goal. Some models will have rails located inside that allow the ball to drop into a space or slot on the side. This means that you’ll need to move to grab the ball. Other models will come equipped with a more basic system that will drop the ball from a goal to a large slot located directly in front of you.

Weighted Players

game

If you’re looking for a pro-quality table, then a model that comes equipped with counter-weighted players is a great choice. Players that are counter-weighted will remain in a horizontal position once they’re released, which means that you won’t have to worry about their placement when you’re trying to take a shot. Basically, these counter-weighted men are designed to stay out of your way and allow you to focus on your shot instead of whether or not your men will hinder your shot path.

Weight

Most models of foosball tables are pretty heavy. These tables are not designed to be moved, which means they require a permanent space in the home. You can expect a table to weigh in anywhere from one hundred and fifty pounds up to two hundred and fifty pounds. However, smaller models designed for kids can weight anywhere from five to twenty pounds.

Grip Materials

Grip materials can include rubber, another type of textured material, or wood. Models that come with texturized or rubber material are generally more comfortable to use and hold, which will promote longer gameplay.

Foosball Table Materials

These tables are made out of many different types of materials. Knowing which types of materials can ensure you have a table that’s designed to last will help you pinpoint which table will work for you based on who will be playing and what your budget is like.

Let’s start off by going over the common types of materials these tables are made out of and which materials are used for top of the line tables.

Particleboard

Particleboard is the most common material used and it’s made out of wood that’s taken from sawdust, chips, and wood shavings. These materials are then mixed with a strong resin and pressed into a shape. This type of material isn’t considered very sturdy and the screws and joints tend to loosen quickly with play. However, this type of material can help to cut down on a table’s weight by as much as seventy pounds. Tables made out of particleboard will also have much thinner walls. The thickness of the walls on a foosball table can say a lot in terms of how long the table will last and whether or not it can handle rough use.

Pressed Wood

Pressed wood is often used to make a variety of game tables and it tends to vary in quality, however, for foosball table designs, it tends to work very well. While it’s similar to particle board it doesn’t have a veneer and it’s bonded and shaped using pressure and heat, which makes it much stronger in comparison.

Wood Composite

Composite materials are also often used because of their resistance to humidity and moisture. Wood composites consist of thermoplastics such as PVC and wood fiber. This type of wood is less likely to warp over the years and it’s tough enough to provide the type of durability you need in a foosball table. When you purchase a table that’s made out of this material, be sure to check that the playfield and walls are a minimum of one inch thick. Anything lower than one inch will make the table more susceptible to warping and bending.

All-Wood

Models that are made out of solid wood can handle it all. But the biggest drawback to this type of material is the fact that they’re more prone to contracting and expanding due to humidity or changes in temperatures. Because of this, if you purchase a table that’s made out of solid wood, you should place it in a room that’s climate-controlled.

Foosball Tables Types

a table

When you’re shopping around, you’ll notice that there are also a variety of different types to choose from. Knowing which type will work in your home, based on who will use the table, how much space you have, and what your budget looks like, can help you pinpoint which style of table will be a great fit.

Standard

A standard sized foosball table is the type that most people are familiar with. This is a full-sized table that’s designed to stay in a permanent place in the home. These tables are very heavy, so moving them is difficult. Lower-priced models may be made out of a combination of particleboard and MDF, which will cut down on their weight, but you still won’t find a table of this size under one hundred pounds. Most of these tables are made out of high-quality materials and components that are designed to last for decades. If you’re on a tight budget, then you’ll want to pay close attention to the size of the table. Many lower-priced models are not full-size, which will be a deal-breaker for those who are looking for a true arcade foosball experience.

Tabletop

These smaller models are highly portable, lightweight, and perfect for people on a budget who are looking for a model that can be stored away at the end of the day. The smaller shape also makes these tables a perfect choice for kids. With tabletops models, you’ll need to place them on a level, sturdy playing surface. While they can be placed on the floor during use, this can hinder a player’s speed. Many parents will choose this option for kids since it’s an affordable way to keep the kids entertained. Additionally, many parents don’t want to invest in a higher-priced full-sized model until they’re certain that their children will not quickly lose interest.

Combo Tables

If you’re shopping for a new game table specifically for the kids, then a good multigame table may be a better fit, since these tables consist of two to five different games in one table. Many of these tables will come equipped with a foosball attachment, which will rest on top of the table’s base. This type of table will usually come with foosball, pool, air hockey, and football. However, these tables aren’t usually a great choice for adults since they’re made out of cheaper materials and often feature a shorter design that will be perfect for younger children.

Foosball Table Brands

With the rise in popularity of foosball tables, there’s no shortage of new brands popping up and producing their own line of top of tables and accessories. Below, I’ve compiled a list of some of the leading manufacturers, however, this is not an extensive list and it’s one that doesn’t include smaller, newer brands such as Sport Squad or Rally and Roar. This isn’t indicative of the quality of the tables both companies produce, instead, I opted to only include the most well-known brands in the industry, and both Rally and Roar and Sport Squad are relatively new to the foosball world.

Best Choice Products

This company has been in business for decades and is known for its wide variety of gaming table product lines. Their product line is very diverse and includes tennis tables, air hockey tables, and of course, foosball tables.

Warrior Soccer Tables

Warrior is another leading brand and they’re known for their tables that are solidly built and easy to assemble. Their foosball tables are made out of high-quality materials and have a reputation for lasting, even with heavy-duty use, so this is a company you’ll want to turn to if you’re looking for a pro-quality model.

Hathaway

This company is owned by a larger company called Blue Wave Products, which is a company that specializes in sauna and pool supplies. The Hathaway division is one of the leading manufacturers of gaming tables and they produce multi-game tables, foosball tables, and air hockey tables. This company often produces models that are feature-packed, so you’ll want to choose a Hathaway table if you’re looking for a model that comes loaded with plenty of bells and whistles.

Carrom

Carron is a smaller company that’s owned by Regent Sports, a company that’s been in business for over one hundred years. This company produces pool tables, bubble air hockey tables, traditional hockey tables, and foosball tables.

Buying a Table Based on Skill Level

Buying a new table is a major investment, especially if you have your heart set on a full-sized pro-quality table. But if you’re looking around for a table for the kids, or you’re new to the game, then you may want to purchase a table that’s skill-level appropriate.

Tables designed for kids and beginners are going to be more affordable since they’re often made out of particleboard and don’t come with many of the features that you’ll find on higher-end tables. However, if you’re not sure how quickly your child will lose interest in foosball, then a starter table is often the best choice. If your child decides to stick with a foosball table, then you can always upgrade, later down the line.

Tables that are designed for intermediate players will cost around three to five hundred dollars, depending on what the table is made out of. For this price, you’ll find a well-built table that comes equipped with many of the same features that you’ll find on pro-quality tables, the big difference will be the materials used for the base and the playing field.

If you’re shopping for a pro-quality model, then only a top of the line table will do. You’ll need to find a model that’s made from high-quality materials that are durable and a model that features a playing field that’s made out of tempered glass. This type of high-end table will be tournament level quality and will feature a well-built cabinet and solid legs. You’ll also immediately notice a difference in the quality of the rods and how smoothly they move.

Pro-quality tables should come with two abacus scoring systems on each end, eight-side mounted handles with non-slip grips, a dual-side ball return, men that are counterbalanced, and a cabinet that’s made out of top of the line materials, whether it’s solid wood, a type of pressed wood, or an aluminum laminate model. There should also be adjustable integrated leg levelers, especially if you have children in the home. Of course, with all of these important features, you can expect to pay a higher price for a pro-quality table, and in some instances, this type of table will be overkill.

How to Win

Winning at foosball is all about learning how to handle the ball, becoming comfortable with the rods and learning how to easily control your men. If you’re playing one on one then it can seem overwhelming to go between four rods in your attempt to protect your goal and guide the ball to your opponent’s goal. However, there are some simple tricks you can try that will teach you how to control and pass the ball like a pro.

In foosball, defense is everything. If you have a good defensive strategy, then you’ll definitely have an advantage over the other player. Knowing how to correctly angle your players will have everything to do with forming a solid defense. To begin, you should set up both of the defending rods so that the players are positioned vertically. However, they should be angled slightly towards each other. Your first row of players is the goalie line. Their feet should be placed at seven o’clock, while your second row of players should have their feet placed at five o’clock. This will cause your two rows of players to form a V shape. This setup will prevent the ball from passing under the feet of your men and will keep your defensive line nice and tight.

You can also try staggering, which is another effective strategy that will keep your goal well-protected. You can stagger your men in a way that allows you to maximize space. You should avoid having players on both of your defense rods aligned with each other so that they’re covering the same space. Instead, ensure that a player from the two-men rod doesn’t ever cross the central goal line. This prevents you from leaving one side wide open for an attack.

Once you know how to defend your goal, then you need to focus on learning how to make your attack. In order to win, you need to score a total of five goals and to do so, you must have a strategy in place to smoothly pass the ball from row to row. There are a variety of passing techniques you can try to master, such as the tic-tac passing method and the brush pass.

With the tic tac pass, you’ll simply pass the ball between players on the same rod, from side to side. For the brush pass, you’ll brush the ball with the right or left side of the feet instead of hitting the ball head-on. This can be done by placing the ball slightly behind one of your men. When you’re ready to kick the ball you’ll move the rod away or toward you, depending on where you want the ball to go.

As you can see, there’s a lot to learn in terms of developing your skills as a player, coming up with a strategy, and simple but effective ways to pass the ball from player to player. If you’d like to learn more, then visit my in-depth guide on foosball tips and tricks