Foosball Table Buying Guide in plain English

Standard

Budget

Most  tabletops are priced under $100. Stand-alone tables range anywhere from $100 to several thousand.

Mini foosball tables range between $100 to roughly $300.

Mid-level tables range betwen $400 to roughly $800.

Regulation-sized tables usually start at $1000.

Not crucial stuff

  • Cup holders
  • Ball return system
  • Single goalie or three
  • Scoring system
  • Counterbalanced men
  • Assembly time

American or European style?

American/Texas Style: “Hard Court” Foosball is known for its speed and power style of play. It combines a hard man with a hard perfect rolling ball and a hard flat surface, which enables precise/consistent positioning of the ball. Excellent lateral control in maneuvering the ball beneath the rod makes for awesome Pull, Push and Kick Shots. Tic-Tac Series and Power Passing are signatures of American style. Its most controversial trademark feature is the 3-man goalie rod. The American-made Tornado brought this style of play into popularity.

European/German Style: is characterized best by its enhanced ball control – particularly in the “pinned” position. Improved feel or touch is often used to describe this style of table. Euro style of play is known for the Front-pin series, Back-pin series, Reverses, Bank shots and Razzle Dazzle type shots. The Tournament Soccer brand table of the 70’s and early 80’s made this style popular in the US.

But the main difference imo is the preferred grip. American tables are heavy, hence most players tend to use snake shot.

Europeans use the same shot, but the grip is different. This technique allows players to ‘walk’ the ball easier.

Who’s it for?

This is a very important question to ask. Who will be playing it? How old are they? Are they beginner, intermediate, or at an advanced skill level?

Beginner

If the table is for children, beginners, or casual play in general, then buying cheap will do, especially if you aren’t sure if they will like the game or not. If they don’t like it, no big deal, you won’t be out of a lot of money. Tabletops are great for little kids because standard-sized ones are too high. However  it’s worth noting, that full-sized tables can also fit kids, but no tabletop will satisfy and advanced player 🙂

Intermediate

For experienced foosers, look for mid-level table so it can withstand play over a long period of time. Mid-level tables are more sturdy and made with higher quality materials. They are priced in the $500+ dollar range and suit those who play often and want to improve their skills. The heavier the table, the more stable it will be.

Advanced

For those who are either highly skilled or want the ideal playing experience, only the top-of-the-line models will do. Usually it means getting one of Tornado tables. These tables are  made with the highest quality of materials. They are also very heavy, some weighing more than 300 pounds. These tables are priced in the $1200-$2000 range.

 

Materials

Higher price usually means better quality of materials.

MDF is an engineered wood composite that is similar to particle board, but is much denser and stronger than particle board. Imagine if all of the sawdust was swept up from other wood product manufacturing processes, and then that sawdust was mixed with binders and pressed into large sheets the size of plywood.

Particle board

If a table has particle board, then durability is going to be a concern. Particle board can deteriorate over time, which can loosen the screws, and lead to the table falling apart. How do you know if a table has particle board? If the walls are less than 1/2″ thick or the table weighs less than 70 pounds.

These tables are suited for those who just want a table for their kids to play with casually for awhile, or don’t want to invest a lot of money in one. However, what you gain in affordability, you lose in quality of play and durability.

Pressed wood/Composite wood

99% of tables currently available are MDF. Not every model, but most of them, it makes sence for manufacturers. Some of it is pressed wood, and can warp over time because it tends to absorb moisture. If that’s you concern, I would recommend going for one of outdoor models instead.

Thickness however is important, so make sure to buy one that is at least 1″ thick for more durability. Some of the higher end models are 1.5″ thick which helps eliminate movement so the game isn’t affected.

Steel Rods

The three types of rods are hollow, solid, and telescoping. Hollow, steel rods are the highest quality. They are lighter, which allows users to play with more speed. This is ideal for very experienced players. Mid-level tables will often have solid steel rods, which are better for intermediates because the game is a little slower.

Some high-end tables have telescoping tubular steel rods, which consist of two pieces of metal. The inner piece slides into the outer, so it doesn’t stick out on the other side of the table. The benefit is that you won’t get poked by a rod from the opposite side. Very nice feature for kids’ safety.

A good alternative is the Rod Guard feature of Warrior Pro tables.

Space

A full-size table is  usually about 56Lx 30 W x 36H, plus you will need at least 5-10 feet of space around the table. Also factor in the playing the rods. Foldable tables can also be a nice solution if there isn’t much room.

Leg levelers

The main benefit for having adjustable legs is being able to even the table on an uneven floor. The better tables have levelers for this purpose. This is a useful feature, but not a critical one.

Foosball men

Some tables come with counter-weighted men, meaning they stay in a horizontal position until the rod is turned. By staying horizontal, they are out of the way when you are shooting. This feature is valuable when only two people are playing (so you don’t have to lift them up every time you shoot from the goalie position).

Also, men can be plastic or metal. Metal is heavier, which gives you more power when shooting, but it’s worth noting that even the best professional tables come with plastic men 🙂

Oh, and if you see ‘robot-style players’: it’s just a newer design of players’ feet. Old design used to have square boxes, now it looks something like this

 

When you see counter-weighted men as a feature, that will tell you it’s a professional table, but it doesn’t mean you have to overpay just to get counterbalanced players.

Three-Man or Single Goalie?

The three-man goalie table has the goalie mounted with two other defenders. Most American tables use this model, while European tables are more known for a one-man goalie.

In reality this won’t affect the game and is only a matter of personal preference.

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