Who Invented Foosball – A complete history

  • By: Tim
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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Who Invented Foosball

We all love foosball. It’s the perfect bar game. You can play it with a group of buddies, and it’s always competitive. Plus, you can drink while you play, which makes it even more fun. But have you ever wondered who invented foosball?

Harold Searles Thornton, who invented foosball, is the man responsible for bringing foosball to the masses. He was an Englishman who came up with the game in 1921 as a way of playing table football. The game quickly caught on, and soon there were foosball tables popping up all over the world.

Today, foosball is more popular than ever. It’s a global phenomenon, and there are even professional foosball leagues. So next time you’re enjoying a game of foosball, remember to thank Harold Searles Thornton for bringing this amazing game into our lives. Let’s dive a little deeper into this.

When Was Foosball Invented AKA The Great Foosball Timeline

1921 –  Harold Searles Thornton who invented foosball gets the first patent for table football in the UK.

1937 – Alejandro Finisterre, a Spanish inventor patented Futbolin, in Madrid. This is the modern-day version of table football.

1950’s – Lawrence Patterson brought the game to the United States

1970’s – Foosball reached its peak popularity in the U.S.

2002 – Table soccer is promoted by the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF), which was founded in France.

How to Play Foosball

If you’re looking to get into the world of foosball, then you need to know the basics of how to play. Here are the steps you need to take:

1. Find a foosball table. This can be tricky, as not many places have them. Your best bet is to check out your local bar or arcade.

They are about 4′ long by 2′ wide and usually contain eight rows of foos me. This can be tricky, as not many places have them. Your best bet is to check out your local bar or arcade.

2. Place two teams of players on either side of the table. There should be one or two players per team, including the goalie.

3. Use the rods to control your players and try to score goals against the other team.

4. Have fun and enjoy the competitive nature of the game! The game is won when a predetermined amount of goals are scored, usually five, ten, or eleven.

Foosball Table Setup and Player Count

Table: Foosball Table Model, Wikipedia

Row 1Goalkeepingred man (sometimes 3)
Row 2Defense2 red men (sometimes 3)
Row 3Opponent’s attack3 blue or white men (sometimes 2)
Row 4Midfield5 red men (sometimes 4)
Row 5Opponent’s midfield5 blue or white men (sometimes 4)
Row 6Attack3 red men (sometimes 2)
Row 7Opponent’s defense2 blue or white men (sometimes 3
Row 8Opponent’s goalkeeping1 blue or white man (sometimes 3)

Foosball Rules

The 6 basic foosball rules

  • Flip A Coin – A coin flip decides who football to start the foosball game. After the first goal is scored, the rule is that the team who was last scored on gets to serve the next ball. This rule keeps the game fair for both opponents. The foosball must be touched by a man before the ball goes into a goal for a legal goal to occur.
  • No Spinning – A spin is a rule for when the rod completes a 360 degree rotation without touching the ball. This is deemed an illegal move in the rules of foosball.
  • No Jarring – Jarring is a rule for when a player slams his or her rods against the wall of the foosball table in an attempt to distract or jar the foosball loose from the other player’s possession. The rule is that there is no jarring allowed at any point during a game. This is not the same as when a player on the opposite team moves his or her foosball rods back and forth in an attempt to play defense. The key this rule is when a player hits the wall of the table with enough force to jar the ball or distract the opponent. That is why this is a subjective rule that may be called more strict by certain foosball player
  • Dead Balls – If a foosball stops in the middle of two opposing team rods, the ball must be picked up and reserved. The serve goes back to the team that was last scored on. If a dead ball occurs on the defensive side of the table behind the defensive 2 bar, the defensive player must move the ball back into playing position. This rule is in place so players don’t cause a dead ball on purpose in order to force a reserve.  
  • Out of Play – If a ball comes off the table area or hits a top rail and comes back into the table area, the ball is ruled out of play and must be reserved by the team that was last scored on. 
  • 5 Bar Passing – These 5 bar passing rules are a little complex if you have never played tournament foosball. These passing rules do not apply to the other foosball rods, just the 5 bar. You are required to pass the ball within a 10 second time period from your 5 bar rod to the offensive 3 bar rod directly after a serve. After the initial serve, you then are allowed 15 seconds to pass from the 5 bar. A ball cannot be completely stopped on the 5 bar and passed forward to the 3 bar, it must be moving and touch 2 men on the 5 bar before being advanced. Additionally, the ball can only touch the wall a total of 2 times in a row (before touching a man again on the 5 bar) before being advanced. However, it can touch the ball a 3rd time if it is part of the pass.

Foosball FAQ

Is Foosball an Olympic Sport?

No, foosball is not an Olympic sport but it will be awesome if and when it happens!

Who Invented Foosball?

Harold Searles Thornton invented foosball in 1921.

Why is Foosball Called Foosball?

It’s German for football and it’s fun to say.

Where was Foosball Invented?

In the United Kingdom

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