The Following is from The Complete Book Of Foosball
Copyright ©1980 by Johnny Rafols (writing as Johnny Lott) and Kathy Brainard
Published by Contemparary Books, Inc. 180 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago Ill 60601
ISBN 0-8092-5990-0

Chapter 8

Valuable Tips for The Advanced Player

Competitive foosball is a highly complicated sport. Many players today possess both the desire and the ability to win on any given day, but it is often the little things a player overlooks that can mean the difference between winning and losing. As you read this chapter, 1 hope you will not only learn a tip or two that may improve your game, but also come to realize the amount of precision involved in the tournament style of play. On each play you must try to use your best percentage pass or shot. Competitive foosball is like a game of chess: one mistake can be all it will take to put you in checkmate.


Offensive Tip

One of the biggest mistakes many goalies make is getting too involved in watching the defense while trying to shoot. One method to use is to decide which shot to try, block out the defense, and keep your eyes on the ball. Many times a forward will switch defenses to confuse you. Don't let this bother or distract-you. Try to choose the right shot and then concentrate 100 percent on proper execution.

Defensive Tip for Blocking Forwards

Most goalies react well as long as the defense they are using is working to some degree. The difference between a mediocre goalie and a strong goalie is the ability to change defenses intelligently when he or she is getting scored on, until something finally works. Once a goalie starts getting drilled, he or she usually resorts to some type of radical defense, which usually also fails. Many times the reason for this is simply that the player is too frustrated to think calmly.

Before every major tournament I sit down and make up a defensive card. On this card I list a number of good defenses that I have used successfully against certain shots in the past. For instance, I might list four pushkick defenses, five pullkick, and five pull shot defenses. This way, in the middle of a match, if the defense I'm using starts getting scored on, I simply take a time-out, look at my defensive card, and immediately call to mind a defense to use-not some radical, desperation move, but a defense I have used before and in which I have confidence.

Pro Tip on Goalie Defense-Mike Bowers

The key to consistent goalie defense is the ability to remain calm, especially if you are getting scored on. Don't panic! Remain calm and analyze the situation. Be sure to give a defense at least a game to work before you switch. After a game or so, if a defense is still not working, then don't be afraid to switch to another type of defense. Stay relaxed, keep your composure, and make sure you execute the new defense correctly.

Defensive Tips against Opposing Goalie Shots

Many goalies sometimes try to shoot the ball hard and straight up the gut, hoping that the ball will bounce off the opponent's front man and be picked up by their forward. For practical purposes this is just the same as if that goalie completed a beautiful pull pass to his forward. A smart goalie will not allow the opposing goalie to do this. There are a couple of things you can do in order to prevent this. I have found that continually flicking your leading defensive man when the opposing goalie is shooting works best. This flick motion will usually either shoot the ball back toward the other end or cause it to fly off your man to either side. It should keep the ball from bouncing off your man to the opposing forward.


Almost all goalies pass to their forwards at least occasionally. The problem with many goalies is that they take it for granted that their forward knows which pass is coming and when. I recommend that you always signal your forward before you pass. Some goalies will tap their forward on the foot. This is okay, but the forward still isn't sure which pass you will try. Also, there is the chance that the other team will pick up your signal. If you have a steady partner, work out a simple method of signaling. It could be the number of times you bounce the ball off the wall, fake, or even pin the ball in certain positions. You'll find that, if your forward knows which pass is coming and when, your percentage of passes completed will begin to increase.


Reading a Defense

Many players possess a strong shot but have difficulty choosing the correct hole in the defense. Random and fast-switching defenses are often confusing. You must be decisive and time the holes as they open and close. Next time you are having trouble reading a certain defense, try one of the following systems.


Instead of looking at the entire defense and trying to pick a hole, first decide which hole you want to shoot. For example, let's say you decide to shoot long. You should also have a secondary shot in mind. Let's say a straight. Okay, you get set- you are ready to shoot. You look for the long hole. If it's open, you shoot it and score. But if it's not, you immediately shoot the straight. This way, if one man is covering the long, or whichever hole you have chosen to shoot, shooting the secondary shot immediately gives you a 50/50 chance of scoring.


The count system is good to use whenever you are totally confused by the defense. Okay, you are set and ready to shoot. With the count system, you don't even look at the defense. Concentrate on the ball and your execution. First, decide which hole you are going to shoot and on what count; for example, a long on a five-count. Count to five to yourself and then shoot long.

By varying the count and shots at random, you can often score better than by trying to observe the defense. Good goalies spend many practice hours working up defenses with moves designed to bait or trick you into shooting into the wrong hole. By using a count system and not watching the goalie's moves, you will shoot the shot you want and force the goalie to block you.

Pro Tip on Passing for Five-Man Offense-Tom Spear

Many players, even some pros, don't take their time on the five-man. You have a full ten seconds, and I try to use that to my advantage on each and every pass.
Move the ball around and play with it a little before attempting the pass. This forces your opponents always to be ready on defense. By the end of the match you may even find the opponent has tired and his defense has slowed somewhat.
Sometimes I like to set up my Opponent. I try to make it look obvious that I am going to try a certain pass and then instead I do just the opposite.



Foosball may not seem to be a physically demanding sport; however, tournament play often requires three or sometimes four days of hard aggressive play. In order to maintain a sharp, competitive edge throughout an entire tournament, a player must possess a high level of mental and physical stamina. This is evident from the excellent physical characteristics of many of the top foosball champions of both past and present. Most professional foosers are in top shape and maintain themselves by working out, running, or by some other type of regular exercise.

While professionals agree with the statement that a player must be in good condition to endure the physical strain of tournament play, the most important reason for being in top condition is the mental effect it can have on a player. Foosball is a head game, and winning tournaments requires an enormous amount of self-control and mental endurance. As a tournament reaches its final day, many players find themselves weak or tired, often during the middle of a match. If your body tires easily, then your concentration and level of intensity will soon follow suit. To adhere to a regular exercise program takes will power and much self-control, but if your goal is to be a winner, I can't think of two more important traits to develop

Most professional players begin preparation for a big tournament at least one month before the event A daily schedule should be set up that includes some type of exercise to build up your body's stamina. Running is an excellent endurance builder and also provides a convenient time to concentrate mentally on winning. Swimmin8, racquetball, and tennis are also excellent conditioning exercises. Some players like to lift weights to build their strength. This is okay, but don't overdo it. Work out with light to medium weights and make sure your last workout is at least three full days before the tournament. This is to make sure you won't be too tight or too sore to give your best possible performance.

Practice Routine

It's important that you create and adhere to a consistent practice schedule prior to an important tournament. Depending on the individual and the importance of the tournament, this may cover a few days or a few months of time. Put together a set routine that consists of at least five to ten repetitions of each shot and option in your offense. Set aside a time at which to go through this routine at least once every day. This will give you complete confidence in the execution of your game.

As for reading of defenses, defensive play, and all-around practice, you should try to put in as much play against local competition as possible. When you go out and play, try to get as much out of each session as you can. Play as if you were exposed to actual tournament conditions. Try to pinpoint any weaknesses in your game so you can work to improve these points prior to the upcoming tournament.

It takes self-discipline to stick to a practice schedule. Make a commitment to yourself, stand by it, and it will pay off in the end.

Doubles Play

While some players prefer to excel in singles, many regard doubles as the more challenging game. Doubles play presents the challenge of coordinated teamwork, the necessity for precise ball control, and the exhilarating feeling of victory, which can be most fulfilling when shared with a partner.

The strength of a winning doubles team almost always lies in the ability of the two players to use teamwork and strategy in order to control the tempo of play during the game and the match. In other words, two superior singles players do not necessarily make a good doubles team. You must play with a partner who will complement your game or style of play, and much time should be spent in developing team strategy, game plans, and a general knowledge of each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Some professional players successfully team together in doubles, yet they live a great distance apart and are unable to practice together on a regular basis. This is fine if you've been playing for many years and have the ability to meet your partner at a tournament, practice together for a few hours, and gain the confidence required to win tournaments. However, this is rarely the case with a novice or less experienced player. Ideally the beginning player should recruit a partner who lives in the same city or general vicinity. This doesn't necessarily mean you should seek out the best player in your area. Rather, look for a player who you feel has the potential to be a winner. The person should be dedicated and willing to spend the practice hours essential to developing a good team effort. By teaming up with a local player, you can practice many more hours. Time is needed to develop ball control and team strategy. Most important, you have the opportunity to test your skills and strategies against local competition on a regular basis. The experience you and your partner receive through play against the local competition will make you more confident when you compete in professional events.

Learn the Rules

I can't stress enough the importance of knowing and under-standing the rules before you enter a tournament. The rules are constantly being upgraded and revised, so you need to be sure you have the latest copy of the official WTSA rules. When you get to the tournament, check with the head official to make sure you are acquainted with any last-minute changes or revisions that may have been made.

Pressure and the Mental Game

Winning foosball definitely depends more on mental factors than on physical factors. Many players possess the skill required, but only a few manage to harness the secret to a positive mental attitude.

First of all, many beginning players-sometimes even pros- don't seem to take tournaments seriously. Oh, sure, it looks as if they are getting down during the match, but between matches you can find them cruising the room, socializing among friends. The time between matches is the most important of all. You must stay warmed up and be psychologically ready for each match. If your match is not called immediately, then you should shoot a rack or two of practice shots every ten minutes.

Try to find out who your next opponent is going to be and scout out his or her strengths and weaknesses. If you're a goalie and you're going to be playing a pull shooter, then find someone who has a good pull shot and have him or her shoot a few racks against you to warm up your defense. If you're a forward, you might try to find someone who passes in a similar fashion to your next opponent so you can warm up your five-man defense. Most important of all, you must keep up your mental attitude and level of concentration between each and every match.

During a game, the key to winning is concentration. You must be able to concentrate and perform your best 100 percent of the time. This is what distinguishes the winner from the loser. If you watch the top professionals, you will see that they rarely let anything affect or disturb them during the play of the game. Most pros develop some habit to help increase their concentration and get them through pressure situations. Some players chew gum, some fidget or follow finicky habits, and some even talk to themselves during play to calm themselves and relax the tension and pressure of the situation. Taking a deep breath before an important pass or shot always seems to help relieve some of the tension.

Try to prevent your mind from wandering beyond the ball that is in play. Becoming distracted by other matters is the primary reason a player becomes nervous or feels pressured. For example, the score in a game should never affect you. Don't try to win games; instead, score points. The best come-from-behind players are those who take one point at a time rather than worrying about the score. Before they know it, they are back in the game and the match. Steve Simon, one of the best comeback and pressure players, says that he believes foosball momentum can easily change during a game or even a match. If his opponent scores two or three consecutive points, Steve believes the odds are that if he stays "down" and concentrates 100 percent, it will be his turn to score the next few points and get back into the game. Whether this is right or wrong, Steve has q managed to come up with a way to make himself play harder fl and more confidently when the chips are down. Many players ;0 could learn a lesson from this, since a lot of foosers tend to give up when they. find themselves behind 3-0 or 4-1 in a game.

Pro Tip on the Mental Aspect of the Game-Steve Simon

If a player is completely confident in his or her ability at the table, then pressure shouldn't hurt the player. A pressure situation causes a person's adrenaline to rise. It's a well-known fact that a person's reaction to adrenaline is a fight-or-flight type of response.
Confident players will channel the energy created by the pressure into a positive direction, which helps them rise to the occasion. On the other hand, less confident players often let the energy channel in a negative direction, which causes them to perform poorly.
As long as you are completely confident in both your offense and your defense, you are going to react positively to pressure situations.

Just as important as not thinking ahead is not worrying about things that have already happened. Many players are upset when the opponent scores a couple of sloppy points. All this does is hurt your concentration. You have no power to change what has already happened. Just as surely as football players will fumble and baseball players will drop balls, foosball players are going to score occasional lucky or accidental shots. Learn to accept each point as just another point and go on to the next ball, whether the shot was accidental, lucky, or picture perfect. They all count one point!

Another mistake players make is to get too mad or frustrated when they or their partners miss a shot or get scored on. Again, this just takes your concentration away from the ball in play and, if you are yelling at your partner, it will also ruin his concentration. The best thing you can do if your partner is having problems is not to worry about him and try to play your very best in your position.

The secret to a positive mental attitude and strong concentration level is locked up in every player's mind. The key which any player may use to unlock this is self-control. How can you expect to control your opponent if you can't even control your own emotions? By developing self-control you can learn to ignore anything that might distract or alarm the average player. and to play your best when you're behind or in clutch situations. This edge will make the difference between winning points. games, matches, and tournaments.