Foosball Tips: How to play defense #2


First I’d like to thank everyone for providing much needed feedback!

There were some things missing and I’ll try to go over them in this post.

I know it turned out to be flawed, but, please, bare with me. I’m figuring out this thing in the process and in the end I’ll cover 90% of the defensive concepts.

Even though I only discussed one (!) position in previous guide, it still turned out to be very incomplete.

Just as in previous guide, I’d like to give names to some concepts.

For (my) better understanding of the game, I’ve divided all the shots (in offense and defense) into two categories: shots from still position (best analogy would be free kick from soccer). Almost all the shots we’ll discuss belong here, since most of them are learned as drills and as a goalkeeper  you can instantly recognize the shot coming at you. Short way of what I’m trying to explain would be “unlike some sort of weird rapid shot from tic tac drible, as a goalie you can tell pretty easily, when the opponent is setting for a pullshot”.

Opposite to these shots are the ones I call dribble shots or from motion shots. Tic tac, pull/push kicks etc. belong to this category.

Basically, if the ball is still and the opponent is about to execute a pull shot, that’s what I call a shot from still position (no dancing, no bluffs, no fakes).

If your opponent is doing tic tac, dribbling the ball all the time and trying to hide his intentions that way – motion shot.

Sure, it’s not an official terminology, but it suits me and sometimes allows to go more in-depth.

Also, ‘him’ will usually mean your opponent and ‘me’ – the defender/goalkeeper.

So let’s jump right into it.

In the first picture the ball is yet again possessed by far 3 bar dude. Previously I mentioned 3 things your opponent can do:

  1. Diagonal shot to near/far post. Everything here holds true, but with some additional details (I’m sorry for the terminology in advance):

a) “Straight” diagonal from standing position without any pull/dribble (quick angle shot) – another perfect example of a ‘free kick’ shot. It uses the same technique as in infamous ‘bank shot’, you basically slap the ball towards the edge and not the center. Positioning your 2 bar  the same way as shown on the picture will easily block this shot.

foosball tips quick angle shot blocked

quick angle shot blocked

b) Trying to execute a mini pull shot with a follow up spray to far/near corner. Also called ‘dink shot’ (hope I got it right from kind people on reddit).  If you’re blocking the diagonal I described before, this is a logical next step for your opponent. The idea here is to fake a pass to the center man on his 3 bar, forcing you (as a goalie) to shift your defense towards center, leaving huge holes in the corners.

foosball tips dink shot

pardon the crossing lines, hope you get the idea, don’t move your defense too fast

Defending this shot is almost as straightforward, as previous one, you just have to follow his far 3 bar dude with your close 2 bar defender during his mini pull, but!!! THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH  THIS SHOT is not the shot itself, but the chance that he may actually pass the ball to center and then shoot (pull kick). I don’t know a reliable way to block this consistently, but I’ll go over this one later.

If kept very short, the best way imo is knowing your opponent. Where is he on this spectrum?

Poser trying to show off<—————>Pro who knows no mercy.

If it’s early in the match and he doesn’t show much respect – you block the dink shot. If dude’s trying to win or maybe you’ve already blocked a few of his dinks – expect the pull kick, since it’s more dangerous.

c) There’s also an extremely rare variation of this shot from back pin position – shuriken shot 🙂 Here’s a great intro quote for this passage:

“The best swordsman in the world doesn’t need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn’t prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.”  Mark Twain

Unfortunately, I can’t demonstrate this via my usual playfield scheme, since it’s 2d, but I’ll probably attach an image or a gif. This is the most dangerous way of shooting this diagonal, but also very rare one (and obviously you will never see something as cheesy as this even at semi-pro level). It’s not a really a proper shot, since no one I know uses it, but it’s replicable, and that is enough for me. Plus, things like this keep the tone of the game (and this guide) a little bit less serious.

Basically, you push the ball tight into the table in backpin position, pull the rod and release the shot. If executed properly, the shot gets additional spin and the trajectory curves. I hope I can get the footage, perhaps film a match in a bar or something. Personally, my best result is shooting this shot 4 out of 10 times. That’s not great, but I’m sure you get the idea, when timed well this shot can give you an advantage (after all this guide is for “underdogs”). On one side it’s very easy to read when this shot is coming at you, but you could pretend to be just dribbling the ball.

foosball tips curved shot

“Shuriken shot”

It’s also very dangerous because from back pin position the attacker has more room to play with, the shot is more powerful and the distance between the ball and your defender is greater, which is bad, since, almost every shot is better blocked as early as possible.

As smart people on Reddit have pointed out, I didn’t mention the goalie positioning for these 3 shots. They’re absolutely right, but I also believe that 2 bar should be enough to block the diagonals. You still shouldn’t forget about the goalie and use him as your last frontier, but, as I said, all the diagonals can be blocked (and should be) by 2 bar defenders. Goalie positioning will be much more crucial when defending the pull kick and other shots.

2) Pull kick with the center dude on his 3 bar. Now, this is kinda the start of chapter 2 of this guide and a new discussion with new scenarios. Everything above can be considered an edit of the previous guide.

Imo, just as with snakeshot, there’s no adamant way to block pull/push kick. There are always holes in any defense and a good shooter should be able to exploit them. This doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail against a guy better than you. But you should understand that in theory, on the highest level of play foosball becomes almost completely a stats based game: you block a shot – you give your team a temporary advantage that your teammate in offense should capitalize on. Essentially, it’s like shooting penalties in real life soccer. And the offense scores most of the time.

This is also a reason good players say that the game is won from the 5 bar – all I’ve written above doesn’t work if you can’t get the ball to the 3 bar. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

So how do you defend the pull kick?

First, you should know and accept that your opponent will probably score his first pull kick. It’s not really raceable and you should focus on defending what will come after.

The main weakness (and a strength at the same time) of this shot is the moment your opponent passes the ball to his center dude. If executed properly, the pass and the shot become a single motion that is close to impossible to block.

When the ball is possessed by opponents far dude on the 3 bar (in a pull position), that exact dude, his center, and your close defender from the 2 bar create deadly Bermuda triangle with no escape for you.

You should accept the fact that you’re pretty much screwed. Imo only this mindset will allow you to succeed.

You already know the fact that he can shoot a dink to your far post, so your close 2 bar defender is locked at that position, blocking the most obvious shot. After you show the dink won’t fly against you, expect the pull kick. Anticipation is THE ONLY consistent way to block unraceable shots.

There’s good news too. First is the fact that not many players have deep understanding of pull kick. Most of the time, even when they shoot fast, they shoot early, from the same position and to the same corners. You’re experience may be different from mine, but that’s what I’ve observed for years. You rarely meet a person able to shoot pull kicks of different variations (I have prepared some demonstrational gifs and pictures from a game by Tony Spredeman as an example of excellent shooter, but even he misplays it a few times). More so, the second you block a well executed pull kick it gives you  nice little mental edge and momentum.

Secondly, the fact that he will most probably shoot the pull kick. This may sound stupid in some way, but KNOWING what he will shot even approximately is already half of the job. You will see that anticipation will be the main theme of this little article (and for a good reason).

People rarely set up the ball at the spot we’re discussing. Now, from these rare occasions, 80% of the time they shoot the pull kick.

Of course, that’s not all, there are many, many possible shots and scenarios you may find yourself in. And I’d love to give you all textbook blocks for all the shots, but I don’t know them myself. I wanted to make this guide as complete as possible, but I also realize it’s impossible. There’s always a trick shot, fancy dribble or some stupid shot like 3 bar to 5 bar pass and then shoot that may come your way.

BUT! You now have a base from which you can move on and develop your own system/style. This is very important and I probably should’ve put this passage to the top as a disclaimer, but it’s a good habit to keep the narrative sequential.

Now the drill: he has the ball on the far 3 bar dude in a pull position. We know he’s not gonna shoot the dink shot, but you’re still blocking the angle with your close 2 bar dude.

For beginners I would recommend using your another dude on the 2 bar, it’s a simple and easy to learn way to block this shot. But since I’ve already mentioned this technique and I wanted to make next  guide more advanced, we’ll try to execute something better this time.

Now, as soon as he starts the motion (pass to the center), you simply follow the ball with the very same dude that was blocking the dink (close 2 bar defender). From here there is a good chance he’ll shoot somewhere around the middle and that you’ll get the block. Even if you don’t, keep trying and you will get there.  Anticipation is very, very important here, be ready for rapid and unexpected executions. You have a tiny window during his pass, but even that is not warranted.

There’s also a good chance he will not shoot until the very last moment. Why? Because of a dead zone built in the most foosball tables (picture). Only the very best shooters shoot the pull kick from the max pull distance.

Pardon my poor vocabulary, but hopefully you see what’s the problem from the picture. You simply can’t follow the ball until the end with your 2 bar defender (logically, this works for both pull and push positions) aka dead man/dead zone. And here our goalie comes to play.

Traditionally, players divide the gates into 5 imaginary sections, approximately 5 times the width of the ball. Position 1 is where your goalie is sitting in every example that I’ve described. For beginners I would stick to Positions 1 and 5, it’s easier to learn and move the goalie only between these 2 spots.

What we’re interested in for our discussion of a max range pull kick is Position 5 of the goalie. I’m sure you get the idea. The goalie is your last frontier and in this case it’s on him to finish the job for our close 2 bar defender.

I hope all the above is somewhat understandable. I’m not a writer and my englihs is far from perfect, but luckily I’ve found a perfect video to demonstrate the dilemma every goalie faces in this scenario, I’ll embed the video with the whole match at the end.

Basically, Tony Spredeman is indisputable best player this match and his opponent goalkeeper has very rough time. He does well in the beginning, but then Spredeman just takes over, imo abusing the Bermuda triangle/dilemma that I described above.

foosball tips

By blocking the quick angle you open up your defense for a pull kick

Yes, he tries different stuff, even goes for a push shot, but in general he scored with far 3 bar dude – quick angle if it’s open, or crazy fast pull kick to the far corner. This is just a perfect demonstration of “unraceable” quality of a pull kick and how you can’t really set up something in advance to reliably block both possible shots, you have to make reads and risk everytime.

Quick angle shot demonstration

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Quick angle shot a moment before the execution

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Quick angle shot “in action”

Proper pull kick

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Usual pull kick, before the pass

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Far post pull kick a moment before the goal, after the pass ( yes that yellow blur).

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Max range pull kick

Pull kick successfully blocked

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Nice goalie positioning a moment before the pull kick and block

foosball tips

Nice goalie positioning and successul block

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