Also known as table soccer, foosball is a game commonly found in arcades,
bars and lounges. It's a simple wooden table with several rods stuck
through it. Each rod has armless soccer players attached to it. The idea is
to spin the rods in such a way that the ball travels down the field and into
your opponent's goal.
The game first gained popularity in Germany in the 1920s or 1930s. The
first tables were imported into North America for widespread distribution
in the early 1960s.
Foosball became popular in Canada and the U.S. in the late '60s and
'70s and then seemed to disappear, except in the eyes of diehard fans
or regular customers of businesses where the tables were still found. But
foosball is back with a vengeance.
Annual foosball table sales in the U.S. are just about quadruple what they
were a decade ago, at about 100,000 tables per year. Online sales are up as
well. Foos Direct, which sells tables online, has seen sales increase 62 percent
Corporations account for 61 percent of Foos Direct sales, compared with
22 percent in 1997. Internet search engine Yahoo! is the company's biggest
customer. It has foosball tables in offices around the world. IBM has about
a dozen tables in its Austin, Texas, location. The employees at these high-tech
companies unwind at the office foosball table.
Typically, men spend more time playing the game than women do. However,
on the professional circuit, anywhere from a third to a half of the players
are female. In fact, a player by the name of Cindy Head has won more world
titles than any other player -- male or female.
Brian King is a professional player from the U.S. who has attended many
tournaments. "Foosball is a game that I feel can be learned by anyone. All
of the skills that are needed to become a good foosball player can be learned,"
"If you go to a major tournament, you will note that there are a wide and
diverse range of body types, ethnic backgrounds and different mentalities
there. From kickboxers to world-class chess players, from computer programmers
to construction workers. They are all there playing competitive foosball.
"I have met pro baseball players and doctors at these tournaments over
the years. Basically, anyone who wants to put in the time can learn to play
at a competitive level," says King.
The cost of foosball depends on where you play and whether you want to
enter tournaments. According to Larry Hegler, a foosball enthusiast from Colorado,
the average cost of a game in his town is 50 cents. Some locations still offer
the tables at no cost, with the hopes that the bill for food and refreshments
will make up for it.
"The tables have the ability to accept four quarters, so I expect to see
tables wanting $1 per game in a few years," says Hegler.
"If you want to play in tournaments, the entry fees can be as cheap as
$5 per person or as high as the tournament director wants to make them. The
2000 World Foosball Championships held in Dallas was $200 for rookies and
$475 for pro masters."
Of course, buying a table is the biggest investment. The cost of a table
will be anywhere between $200 (for a junior-size table) and $900. There are
also higher-end tables that can cost anywhere between $1,200 and $2,000.
Hegler has some theories about where the sport is going. "I believe that
foosball will eventually become an Olympic sport and gain the respect it deserves.
I have been developing my skills...and every game I still learn something
new," he says.
Simply spinning the rods and hoping luck will be on your side to hit the
ball and score a goal isn't the stuff that champions are made of. But
with practice, spinners can turn into very skilled players.
Successful players have to be aware of the total game, including shooting,
passing and blocking. As more and more people pick up the game, the competition
will get stiffer. But it will also keep the sport growing.
If foosball is something that you really enjoy, consider these career options:
Carpenter or cabinetmaker: Having the skills and abilities to build
a foosball table is important, or no one would be able to play! And think
about all of the money you would save on birthday presents if you could make
Entertainment facilities manager: Managing a place where people
play foosball, pool and video games might be something to think about. This
person could also be responsible for organizing tournaments and promotional
Sports team coach: If you have the strategic eye required to be
a great foosball player and the athletic ability to play soccer, football
or hockey, combine these skills in a coaching role. Being a coach for younger
students is also a great learning opportunity, both for you and your team.
Valley International Foosball Association
333 Morton St.
P.O. Box 656
The Foosball Source
Lots of great information and links
Loads of links
Lots of resources here