Foosball matters. It can win you respect or condemn you to derision. It is played in bars in front of friends and onlookers. Dummy a shot with the left-hand striker only to power in a clinical finish with the right-hand man to emerge victorious and you are a hero to your friends and look good to the ladies. Score an own goal that dribbles at a snail’s pace from your midfield past a flailing goalkeeper and you are a loser, mocked by men and pitied by women.
As a man who has frantically swapped hands and titled tables to stop the back pass ending up beating my own goalie, I want to spare others the ignominy. So here are the tips I’ve acquired from my friends – who can whack in a 9-0 drubbing at will – and from the BFA (British Foosball Association) – who ought to know a thing or two about how to play the game.
o Spinning the bar is inaccurate and the shots are straight and predicable, it results in fewer rebound opportunities, is often banned, and makes you look like a complete novice. Use the wrist-flick instead. Use your stronger hand, and hold on to the handle throughout the shot. ‘Forget’ about your arm and hand and focus on forcing your wrist hard down past the right-hand side of the handle. Your wrist will stop abruptly because of your grip on the handle, but the ball will travel fast and true and you will look like you know what you’re doing.
o Stagger players
o Get your defender in the way of the direct shot, but put your goalie a ball’s width to the side to substantially increase your coverage of the goalmouth. In open play, defend the near post
o Oscillate your defenders
o Don’t let a gap open up for any substantial amount of time. Good players will pass the ball along the line of attackers and penetrate a gap. Move the bars in and out – in an unpredictable manner – so that they can’t get a clear shot
o Tilt your players
o Tilt the attack and defence bars slightly forward (heads towards opponents goal) so that when you block you keep possession. Tilt midfield and goalie the other way to get attacking rebounds and more saves respectively
o Use defenders against midfield and defender shots
o When your opponent shoots from range there aren’t many angles from which he can do so. Position your midfielders and attackers to try to block more angles, then get your defenders in the gaps. They will have to be very good to beat a well-organised defense.
o Shoot with your strikers
o Statistically, very few shots from the midfield will score against a good player. If you can see an opportunity, don’t be afraid to pass the ball from the 5 on the midfield bar to your 3-man strikeforce. You then have a much better chance of scoring
o Control before you shoot
o An instant snap-shot may be required, but usually try to get the ball under control in attack before your shot. It gives you a better chance to deceive defenders and strike the ball cleanly
o Sideways movement
o When the ball is under control in attack, flick it between the 3 players. The quicker you can do this the better; you will find yourself with a gap in which to shoot. Push the ball with the side of one man to another to hit a first-time shot at the goal