How to win at foosball: implement a few of these tips and before long you will be the undisputed table football champion of your home, friends group, village and even - if you're lucky - the county.
For anyone who's been on this earth two decades or more, the humble but exhilarating game of foosball (also called 'table football' or 'fuzboll') will almost certainly have featured somewhat in your childhood. How willingly you embraced it will greatly differ, but there will have been a foosball table somewhere in the background at some stage, whether at a youth club or at the birthday party of some lucky kid who happened to own their own table.
With table football, owning your own table was a huge bonus. It immediately gave you a couple of goals advantage over your prospective opponent and only a player with serious natural ability could cancel out the 'home table' benefits - unless, of course, the owner had been particularly lax with regard to practice.
Anyway, we believe in preparing for every eventuality in this strange, unpredictable life - so in anticipation of the great foosball craze that will inevitably sweep the island as a sort of moderately anarchic reaction to iPhones and social media, we have prepared a list of surefire ways to improve your foosball game.
Do not spin!
According to United States Table Soccer Association rules, spinning is defined as "the rotation of any soccer figure more than 360 degrees before or after striking the ball."
Not only is spinning illegal, it is also seriously detrimental to your attempts to improve your foosball game. It is a common fallacy among novice and casual foosball players that spinning is a good way to disrupt an opponent's rhythm in midfield and that, with regard to shooting, it is the best way to achieve maximum power out of a shot. On the contrary, spinning causes you to lose control of your players and turns your shot or pass into a lottery effort. Many an own goal has been scored due to an errant 'spin' that has resulted in the ball shooting backwards, past the helpless and unsuspecting keeper.
Learn the art of the 'sideways shunt'
When a defender is right in front of your striker, what do you do? The same applies to your attempt to play the ball out from the back when being blocked by an opponent's forward. Your average foosball player reacts to this situation with panic, frustration or desperation and simply hacks the ball forward (leading to a potentially devastating rebound off an opponent) or takes the risky ploy of the backpass. But gain the ability to simply tap the ball sideways to the player beside you and you have an opponent immediately wrong-footed (or at least as wrong-footed as they can be when stuck to a fixed point on a bar).
Use your goalkeeper properly!
This can be a tough task, undoubtedly. You are often tasked with managing a goalkeeper with your weak hand, and with sharp reflexes and short reaction times required this can be the downfall of many a player. But if utilised to the full and proper extent the goalkeeper can, like in 'real life' football, be a strength rather than a weakness - and even the source of the odd freak long-range 'pot shot' goal. Mastering the art of controlling your goalkeeper with one hand while simultaneously managing the ball outfield with your other hand (so as to be prepared for any sudden rebound or strike) is key if you wish to reach the top.
Be prepared to deal with hostile elements
Most of us never make it to the top. That's the sad and cruel reality of foosball. As a result most of us spend our time playing foosball in a domestic setting. Which, of course, exposes the table to all kinds of malevolent elements. Siblings and pets, for example. So as pristine as your own table may be, don't get too comfortable. It's not with the best of resources that you will be judged. It's when every other handle is missing, the 'foosball' itself is a chewed-up bouncy ball (the real one and the two spares all having been eaten by the dog/younger brother/crazy aunt) and there's a huge slant on the table, that your abilities will truly be tested. The 'Thursday night in Stoke' barometer of table football.
Master the 'dummy'
Similar to a real-life dummy, only requiring far more technique and poise. Make as if to shoot, making the same powerful movement with your wrists, but stop short at the last second, perform a quick 'sideways shunt' to your strike partner and slot the ball into the net. Guaranteed to pull at least one goal out of the bag at a crucial stage of the game.
Teach a younger, smaller sibling/neighbour/friend/randomer how to play (for doubles games)
"Ah g'wan, giz an advantage" is a common cry at family reunions, youth clubs or gatherings where older kids get lumped in with younger ones. Often an older kid (normally they have to be at least eighteen, mind) will succumb to the pleadings and, totally certain in their own ability to make a comeback, will allow such an advantage to be given (say, 2-0 or 3-0). This arrogance needs to be exposed. Claim that your partner has never played before, bow down to your opponents' superior talent (this is key, draw them in with flattery), obtain an advantage - and then, having trained your young partner keenly in the dark arts of the game, ruthlessly take advantage of their foolhardiness.