Best Foosball Table Buying Guide
What do you do when the weather is bad outside?
Winter is coming that means there will be any summer picnics, outings with the family, and even walking about become difficult after the initial snow sets in.
This means that you'll be cooped up indoors for lengthy periods of time and with nothing to do except stare at your TV or smartphone. Of course, you could be down in the home entertainment center sunk in your easy chair watching your kids play video games or yourself channel surfing through the thousand plus channels you have on your satellite. Others of you will be in your home offices attempting to wade through the mountains of work that you weren't able to accomplish during the day.
Meanwhile, your wife is meandering the net to find the latest fashions, looking for a recipe for tonight's dinner, and perhaps just reading the fashion pages. In the other rooms of your home, your kids when they are not glued to their smart phones, playing computer games and are going ape, out of their minds, and clamoring about being bored as you look out the window. Where still more snow is coming down.
What you need is a break; you need something to do in the house that doesn't require sitting on your backside or ruining your eyesight staring at tiny image screens. You also want to be away from being inundated with mindless blabber on social media. And finally, soothe frustrated family members.
Today, we're going to offer you up an exciting alternative and it might be one that you haven't even thought about it years. But, most of you in your younger years in college when you had nothing to do after class you often went down to the local watering hole and saw it sitting there. You wiled away many hours knocking a small ball about the table and enjoying yourself immensely.
It was the Best Foosball Table and today it's more popular than ever. With this guide, you will be able to see just how extensive it has permeated the world. You can see the plethora of varieties of forms and it has taken along with the types of tables that are out there now.
By having one of these tables installed in your home, you have an exciting way to get everyone off their rumps, on their feet, and engaged. Your family can enjoy life together again. Instead of isolated in their little microcosms centered on their cell phones, tablet PCs, and laptops.
Come with us today and stop being a couch potato and getting back into one of the most exciting sports that lets you play soccer indoors out of Winter's snow and cold, without getting your feet muddy, bruises, and banged up.
Welcome back to the world of Foosball!
The Game of Foosball for those who haven't heard about it before
Imagine if you will entire soccer field miniaturized and put into a table. Protruding from the table are metal rods with rubber handles that rotate under your hand. On these rods are figures that resemble human beings who are your players. Depending on the positioning on the field, they could number between five and two on each rod.
Four of the rods are for one's opponent and four are for you. A small ball made of cork, plastic, and wood is dropped into the center and each player slides the rods forward and backward to position their player to maneuver the ball rapid spinning of the handle allows for passing and kicking. (Though a full 360° spin is against international rules or if you're playing professionally)
There are those who say it takes years of learning the intricacies and strategies of playing this game. If you go up on the web, you will find a tremendous amount of material that takes you from beginners to Pro.
Numerous websites can educate you on the sport. (Yes, Virginia they consider this a sport as well as just a game.)
However, however, we are not here to discuss the rules but instead, we want to familiarize you with the many differences in tables that can be used for play at home. They range in size from small intimate foosball tables that only have 4 rods to be played after a romantic dinner between two adults. The larger and king-size versions are made for putting into a rec room, den, and home entertainment center. So let's get down to the nitty-gritty of what makes a great foosball table.
Types of Foosball Tables
Foosball can be broken down into a number of categories and with that, the tables are constructed accordingly.
● Firstly, teens and adults in various venues such as clubs, corner bars, and arcades often play foosball. These tables are coin-operated or you get your ball from the person behind the counter or bar.
● the next category is for children ranging from preschool to young adult. These tables often rest on the floor instead of on tables or the entire playing field is placed on a separate table that later you can pack the entire game away in a cabinet, closet, and even under a bed under a bed.
● Now we come to the recreational whose tables are built rugged for heavy use and combine table and playing field together as one standalone unit similar to that of your pool tables and ping-pong tables.
● For tournament and professional play, tables are built according to strict specifications. Even the weight of the ball is carefully calculated to conform to rules of play. The figures representing your players have strict guidelines according to size weight and in some cases even in the materials that, they are made from.
So, you can see there is a great deal of variation in what you can get when you go into a sporting goods store, your favorite game shop, and even shopping on Amazon when you're attempting to find a foosball table that fits your lifestyle and the venue in which you are going to be placing it.
Standard Foosball Table
Since the late 20's when foosball was given its first patent to a gentleman in England there has been an explosion of tables all across the world, which has risen and fallen with the sport over the last few years. The Belgians, French, Canadians and even Texans have their thoughts on what is the proper Foosball table.
For example, the Tornado T3000 is designed around tournament play and unlike similar models that have the pay per play option; this one does not have a coin slot. However, aside from that, a professional grade table meets most of the standards for tournament play across the United States.
It is a bit hefty and weighs in at 300 pounds. However, you have all the options and features that you need for fast action play no matter what venue you set up for. So, if you are following the ITSF rules this gives you an idea of what the standard foosball table should look like.
If you are not clear on what the International Table Soccer Federation rules are, you can check them out in English here and download a copy of the rulebook for yourself.
You will notice that this is a 3-goalie table with. Bumper-loaded action on the rods allows for quick back-and-forth movement to get your players and position to kick or block and maneuver the ball up and the playing field.
So as you can see this takes the action of foosball that has been around since the 1800s in parlors in Europe and brings it into your home or even office break area. It will provide you, your friends, and family with thousands of hours of fun and excitement no matter what the weather is doing outside.
Tabletop Foosball Tables
Tabletop foosball is exciting and fun for the younger crowd and it's easier to play, as there are fewer players and number of rods you have to keep track of. The number of rods can vary between six and four depending on the size of the table you want to play on and the price that you're willing to invest for an evening's fun.
Our example is made by Sport Squad and is at the lower to mid-range for tabletop foosball. It is very compact and lets you store it out of the way when you're done playing very easily. It does not take up much table space and can fit on most kitchen tables easily.
Each rod has players and are in alternating colors of blue and red similar to the early foosball colors used to paint the players in the early parlor games that sprung up all over France in the 1880s. Though not designed for tournament play your family and guests can all have rousing after dinner fun.
The rules are quite simple and not as elaborate as those for tournament play this table is designed for fun and enjoying an exciting and fun filled evening for both players and spectators alike.
Our example comes to us from Sport Squad FX40 Foosball Table and this is a prime example of what you can get at a reasonable price to bring foosball play into your home before the snow falls and makes outdoor activities difficult and you don't get your hands and feet cold while playing foosball indoors either.
Combination Game Tables
If you want to add to the fun and make things much more exciting, you can also purchase a table that has more than just foosball. This provides a little bit of something for everyone in the family. Many rec rooms today have a Ping-Pong table, pool table, and even air hockey to go along with their foosball table.
Well, you can do the same and combine them into one happy family. You get table tennis, foosball, pool, and puck hockey all rolled into one table.
It only takes a few minutes of work to switch between the various games and then you have enough fun to last out the entire weekend. This also cuts down space being used in your rec rooms, home entertainment center, and den. This then lets you have room for your home entertainment center, bar/snack center.
This is a marvelous way to take a break between watching your favorite sport on the widescreen TV during halftime and let you stretch your legs along with getting something tasty to eat as well as your favorite beverage for one of the game continues.
This combination of not only a combination foosball gaming table along with the other amenities creates an atmosphere of camaraderie among friends. It also provides a place for the family to get together and enjoy activities as a group instead, of staying in their rooms and playing computer games.
Coin-Operated Foosball Tables
If you're a bar owner or person who wants to install foosball in a recreational center, arcade, and make a profit from foosball you need to first investigate the laws and regulations of your municipality before installing one as if they may come under one or more of your areas gambling or state laws.
You will then have to find a company that caters to this market (As Amazon doesn’t.) and for that you need to turn to the Web where then it becomes a simple matter of clicking your mouse a few times to find what you need.
A Texas-based tornado has a variety of foosball coin-operated tables as well as other companies as well.
Most of them are made in the United States. For example, Great American http://www.bmigaming.com/ has an eight-rod model that would fit most of your needs, Not only that, it allow you to choose between the single goalie and three-man goalie rear bars.
Add to that is designed to be eye-catching with bold colors and attracts players from across the room. So if you're planning an event such as a charity carnival this could be one of your star attractions inside an arcade setting with the proceeds going to your favorite charity or benefit organization.
However, if you want to go with a change of pace, The Chinese who have not been traditional foosball players in the past. However, the Chinese, with their craze over western things have now taken up the gauntlet and they now produce coin-operated foosball tables as well. http://salesinform.en.made-in-china.com/product/iqpmGWPDgIVZ/China-New-Style-Coin-Operated-Foosball-Table-HM-S60-077-.html
They come in many styles and you can often get a bargain if you do a little looking like this editor has. We found a nice one that is being made in Shanghai and is built on the standard table model using the single goalie variant.
So, the world is foosball crazy and you can get on the act as well this winter.
How to Pick the Best Foosball Table
The first thing you need to think about when you're buying a quality foosball table is the workmanship. Because you’re planning to use the table for a number of years, we hope. So, if you're going to buy something you want it to last. Therefore, you want to go with a quality brand. Tornado, SportsCraft, Carrom, and Great American gives you coin-operated foosball tables.
This by no means is all of the manufacturers out there as foosball is popular and economic times in America often fluctuates so the fortunes of these companies rise and fall with the tide of business. This means you have to put yourself into the foosball community and they will point you to what is current and who is the reputable makers you should buy from.
If however, you're buying for a child or for family use, you can set your sights a little bit lower in the $200-$400 range to put something into your playroom, recreational center, and den.
Another thing you should look at is "Spinning." This is used by many to determine what type of foosball table they should buy. Spinning is forbidden in tournament play.
If you're only buying for your recreation room, you don't need to spend the extra cash. However, if you are looking at taking up the sport seriously you need to look at a table that will help you develop your skills.
Some of the things in this area you need to look for are:
● A flat table that allows the ball to roll true along with rods, grips, and even the playing figures.
● Room location in space is important as well. A standard foosball table measures out at 56" x 30". This does not include the rails, which can extend from 5 inches to up around 9. So, this means you need to Mark office space of about 7 X 8 feet.
Finally, you also must think about the decorum of where you're going to put the foosball table and you may want to consider cabinets styling, wood or composites, and make sure you buy one that will hold up under the amount of gaming you are planning on doing.
Methodology for Product selection: How we select Top Products
Selecting the products that we review we have very strict criteria for getting the job done right and presenting to you only the best in what we show you. Foosball tables that are made in America are of course the ones we look at first but by no means are it the only criteria. We also look at the number of years the company has been in business and whether they specialize in foosball tables or are a multi-faceted company that manufactures gaming tables for more than one type of sport or activity.
● a company that focuses solely on foosball tables is more likely to be putting out a better product than a company that is running with an assembly-line mentality. We prefer to look at companies that believe in building each table by hand is their mantra. This is due to the fact we feel that individual attention to the work in progress is fundamental for giving you the best products available.
● Tornado, for example, is one of our favorites as they take old style craftsmanship and combine it with the needs of today's foosball players. They provide a variety of foosball tables that target the beginner, the intermediate player, and the professional. They also provide tables for commercial use as well.
● We like to see that in the products and companies we review as this shows a dedication to the product while demonstrating initiative and innovation to provide for the varying tastes of the people who buy these tables.
● Another criterion we look at is the materials that are used in the building and manufacturing of foosball tables. We prefer solid wood to particleboard for composites. Recently, however, we have seen some fascinating work being done with 3-D printing that someday will allow the creation of lightweight foosball tables that will be stronger than steel. However, that day is not here yet and for quality sake, we prefer solid wood construction.
● The other parts that make the table are also scrutinized and chrome over steel gives you a smooth sliding action along with the springs and the handgrips. All of these are looked at for their attributes as well as the overall construction of the foosball table we are reviewing for you.
A Check off List of things you need to make sure of the foosball table before you buy
The first determination of size is who will be playing primarily on this table. For children, for recreation, and just all around fun you can go with a simple four bar in table sized whose ball game that is used as a conversation piece and played while drinking coffee and chatting. Children who are a little bit more robust need a table that is at least 40" x 30" that resting on folding legs or regulation table size. For the smaller child a tabletop foosball table with 4 to 6 rods is just the right size and their ability to handle.
Another indicator of size is the venue where you wish to put the foosball table if it's going to be in an open area where people pass by such as a lobby, arcade, and in your home entertainment center or rec room. You probably want to go with a full-size foosball table made from heavy materials that can handle being abused or banged into. This is especially true with teenagers and their recreation rooms.
The final criteria that you should think about is the amount of use, you are going to be putting into playing the game. Someone who is an avid follower of the sport and perhaps wishes to go pro will want the best table they can get with the full tournament-sized playing field and all the other accoutrements that go along with this. For those of us who play foosball recreational, the standard sized table is more than sufficient. That’s because we will play foosball only once or twice a week and if guests stop by for dinner and cocktails later.
In making the choice in table size you can go up on Amazon and look at this URL to see the variety that is available and from the pictures, you can choose the exact foosball table dimensions you desire.
Many will argue either way on the number of goalies. Texas style of foosball brought the 3-man goalie into popularity and Tornados like using them. You can get a conversion kit and then play whichever way you like.
The Warrior Professional Foosball table is one table recognized by both ITSF and the USTSF. If you notice, it has a single goalie.
Lee Peppard's pro Soccer Tournament table, which by the way was made in Taiwan, The 1979 million dollar tournament table had a single goalie configuration.
Check with the people you be playing with and see which configuration the using. If you are connected in with any foosball groups, you can always check with the website at. http://www.foosballclubs.com/and find a group that is in your geographical location. There are some players however that believe you should be able to play with either configuration as this improve your skill and dexterity of handling the ball in both offense and defense. This is one reason why the tornado is as popular as it allows you to convert from one to the other.
The Texas Style however that is prevalent in bars, arcades, and other venues here in the US are predominantly of the 3-goalie variety. Therefore, the majority of tables you will be seeing up for sale are of this variety.
However, if you are not going to go pro the bottom line is get the goalie configuration that suits your particular style of playing and gives you the most enjoyment.
Counter Weighted Men, their feet, and pins vs. screws
Your players should be balanced to rotate evenly and without unevenness. Pro tables have player figures that are as close as humanly possible to be of the same weight and give you precise ball control.
However, the real reason is that the normal players that you get on low-end tables have the weight in the feet so the players rotate to the upright position. When you release them this can be frustrating and slow you down when you are trying to play the game at tournament speeds.
Counterbalanced figures put weight in the head of your player figure and they stay in position until you decide to move them. This speeds up passing and gives you better ball control on defense and offense.
Along with counterbalancing, you want to make sure you have feet that are conducive to ball control and performing bank shots, catching, pinning to the table. This is accomplished by having crosshatching on the feet that allows you to do the above much easier than if you had the traditional smooth finish on the player's feet. You also want the corners of the toes to be angled rather than rounded this allows you to do corner shots much easier.
Also, look at how your men are secured to the rods. The old-fashioned method is used on many of the low-end tables use a setscrew. This screw can come off or loosen during play. In either case, this is something that can interfere with the types of shots and ball control that you require to play at the high end of the game. A better option is to use the players that have pins that lock them in position on the bar. That way the player does not move unless the pin comes out or physically breaks.
Tornado & Dynamo have incorporated all these features into their foosball tables. You can also get them for yours at Amazon.
Therefore, before you purchase your table you should check this in advance, because if you have to replace all 26 players this can be an expensive proposition after-the-fact.
A final note on foosball men is that sometimes due to the excitement and power that you can put into your men, some of them may become broken. Playing with a broken player can put one of the other players at a disadvantage. So, periodically you should check your table and replace any that are damaged. Fortunately replacing a single man is not expensive as the price usually comes in no more than $4-$6 per man.
Therefore, you can see that the players in foosball are just as important as the superstars you see at the World Cup soccer matches and a lot cheaper to get for your foosball team.
Table levelers are something you should have no matter what type of table you intend to buy. This allows you to set up your shots and prevents the ball from meandering about on its own. All high end tables have this built in and with a little expertise in carpentry you can do the same for you and your low-end table by installing shims or purchasing table levelers and installing them yourself. A leveler also helps prevent the table from shifting during play, which changes the dynamics again and prevents proper set up for a shot.
A carpenter's level should be used on your table from time to time to ensure that things haven't shifted from previous games. Then it is simple matter to readjust and bring everything back into true. One of the keys is to raise the opposite side from where the bubble is traveling during alignment.
To raise the table you need a second person to live while you rotate the level or counterclockwise and vice versa, if you want to lower it. If you are a foosball fanatic, you may have to align your table on a monthly or biweekly basis depending on how much banging about your table and doers during play.
Here are some examples of levels and shims you can purchase online at Amazon if your table doesn't already have them in place.
Having a "level playing field" is not just a metaphor it keeps the game even for play and this makes for a more exciting and evenhanded game as well.
One of the most expensive things on your foosball table is the steel rods that move the players about. You have to be careful about the material in the weight as these can have detrimental effects to your speed of play and your ability at shooting.
Low-end manufacturers sometimes try to cut corners by using cheap grade metals and solid rods. If you want the best foosball play, you need hollow rods made of chrome, which give you maximum shot performance as well as ball control.
You might also wish to think about having plastic end caps put on if you have small children about as their heads often are even with the playing field.
You can purchase proper type rods from our friends at Amazon once more for go directly to the various manufacturers such as Tornado and Dynamo.
Finally, you want solid construction and thick legs on your foosball table. Thin legs and particleboard construction makes for a table that is only good for a year or so. Tornado and other high end tables are 1 1/2 construction with a laminate covering that allows them to fit in with your decorum and of course, this, makes them heavy (about 350 lbs) and solid. This is of course precisely what you want in your foosball table for tourney play. If you go to the Tornado site, you will find a selection of cabinets that are made from high-grade materials that will last you for years and provide a good-looking table that you will be proud to show off to people when they come to play in your game room or den.
Good tables use laminate surfaces for the most part and are made to let the action be fast a furious as the game heats up. European tables use a different playing field, which is softer than the hard surface we play on in America.
The French table sold by Bonzini and a Linoleum material or what they call clay courts, which differs from the hard German or American styles, are used.
In addition, the ball is made of cork, which handles much differently than the harder materials used in our balls, which are like those in pool which bank and snap about. The European variant are made for fluid action with walking the ball and pinning are used more extensively matching the French "BabyFoot" more laid back way of playing the game.
Their players are more eclectic and resemble real people down to faces and ethnic features.
They prefer the single goalie, which Tornado made the 3-goalie popular in the States in 1981.
Shopping by Player Skill Level
Some people feel you should buy your foosball table according to the skill level of the player. On one hand, this is a sensible approach as the costs of the higher-level machines can be expensive. A Tornado can run you over a $1000 dollars. This is quite a chunk of change to plop down for a beginner or child. Children often lose interest in their toys and a beginner may not be sure that they want to invest the cash.
Beginners (and kids)
With the above in mind you should start with a table that is relatively inexpensive. This means in the $30-$100 dollar range to get their feet wet.
This for a child gauges their interest and the tabletop models can be stored away easily.
For the beginner, a little more ambitious venue would be a table in the above $100 dollar range as this lets them get a sample of a better level of play and will handle more use as they will often use it more than a child.
Intermediate players should try to get a higher end table as they are no surer that they want to play the sport at a high end and to do that you need a quality table.
Again, a bit more cash needs to be spent. Here you are looking in the $200-$600 dollar price range. However, you want to focus on getting the best bang for the buck. Amazon often has discounts and bargains. So, periodically checking with them can get you a steal.
Another method that there are a lot of used High-End foosball tables to be found on EBay and Craigslist. Here for a fraction of the cost you can score a Tornado or other pro table that is in good condition.
Advanced players are looking at $1000 dollars and going with a brand name. Tornado is the one most recommended but there are others as well.
Dynamo and Great American to name a few, again, keep on the lookout on EBay, Craigslist, and Amazon for bargains. Used Tornado Elites have been up for sale for as little as $600 dollars with minor scratches.
Don't ignore the coin operated foosball tables either, as they are mostly in the high-end class of tables and the only difference from the pro models is just the addition of a coin mechanism and logo styling. This in itself can often enhance your game room to look more like a retro arcade from the 70's and 80's.
However, if you are going to go for serious play and possibly competition you need to either go with a Tornado with the 3 goalies or get the conversion kit to play with a single one.
If you are planning to play International Foosball knowing single goalie play and even having a Bonzini to learn to play on a soft field is a necessity to win against the world's players. Lahore Pakistan just held a major competition and the players used the single goalie and clay court tables.
Foosball may not be in the Olympics yet but it is inching its way in that direction. For that or for high-end competition that can net serious cash to a winner of some of the major events require you to be at the top of your game. You can only do this with a high-end table. For that, you will need to spend a bit of cash.
For those of you who just like to play the game for recreation and fun with the family and friends to enjoy being with them and avoid the weather that is coming done the pike. You can get years of exciting fun from a more moderately priced table. For the kids there is nothing like letting them bang away on a low-end foosball table to work off some of that excessive energy that children have and get them away from the tube and playing video games.
Today, you have seen what foosball tables can do to enhance your free time and offers up a sport that has a future for pros and beginner alike can enjoy. You now have the information to go out and choose the Foosball table that suits your tastes, goals and of course your budget.
Foosball has been around since the early part of the 19th century and it is only getting bigger and better in the coming years as well.