Foosball tables have become more and more popular over the last few years. There are many available to choose from and it is hard to find the best one. Many people would argue that the top foosball table would have to be a full size one.
A full size table is the kind you would generally see in a club or arcade. There are many available and they come in a variety of manufacturing qualities. They are available in a range of price ranges and the most elaborate can be quite expensive. A wide variety in the quality of the materials used and in the build quality of the tables can be seen.
Look for the best quality materials and construction when looking for the foosball table.
For choosing a good foosball table look at the play surface. Make sure it is flat and even or the game will be negatively affected. Foosball players call areas of a playing surface where the ball settles “dead spots”.
Be careful of playing surfaces with ramps in each of the corners because some of these surfaces can have dead spots in the table where none of the playing figures can kick the ball. Others table surfaces give the ball an uneven roll that can be very unhelpful in a fair game.
A good foosball table will have strong brackets holding the sides of the table and the playing surface in place. The side wall will also be joined by a groove in the surface or the surface will fit into a groove in the wall. As well as this the surface of the table will be supported by a strong framework underneath.
Thickness of the playing surface is also a good feature to look for as this means it is less likely to split or warp over time. Thick walls will provide better protection for the playing surface. Quality of construction and quality of materials is just as important as the thickness.
The rods holding the playing figures should move freely and unhindered with no hint of any stickiness or judder. It will respond to the actions and reactions of the players without them having to worry that the mechanism of the game might let them down. Springs in the rod mechanism should be sturdy and well fixed into the sidewalls so there is no chance of them causing the rods to stick even for a moment.
Foosball is played very seriously and there are professional competitions. The best foosball table you will find is one that will be used at professional level. It will have all the build quality and features described above.
Professional foosball tables start at mid price range but are really worth the money because you will be getting the best foosball table that you can. You will be getting a table that is equal for both players on either side of the table. The control a professional table gives is noticeably better than a standard foosball table too.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Foosball Table
When trying out at local stores or shopping online, consumers can greatly increase product satisfaction by looking into the following areas of concern in advance:
Who will play the foosball mostly? Age, Height, Hand strength level
Is safety a concern for you? Will children be around often to play and watch the game?
Traditional solid rods go through the sidewalls. They can poke the rival player’s stomach, children’s faces If they are around and looking on. This is a seriously under-reported injury and should make parents or child-care givers very concerned.
Telescopic rods are definitely a better choice for safety reasons in addition to the excellent maneuverability.
Feel of play
Generally defined as the ability to allow the player to maneuver the rods and playing figures to effectively control ball movements in pre-empting rival player’s defense and executing various trick shots. This is a result of a whole range of design details (or the lack of) as listed below:
- The gap between the tip of the foot and the playing field, often too wide on many tables that the ball cannot be reached in many dead spots.
- A good foot shape with a large surface at front and back as well as on both sides to pin down or stop the ball from getting to rival’s zone of control and pass laterally to the men on the same rod. Without such design, the ball can easily slip away to the rival’s territory — very frustrating. Good ball control is half of the game won.
- Light rods, grippy handles, and lubrication. Less inertia to overcome and no slipping ensure fast response and good ball control with less strain on muscle or wrist injury. Telescopic rods or hollow rods are definitely better.
- Playing figure coverage overlap. Certain overlap is desired so that each man can cover a wider area crossing over the coverage zone of next man on the same rod. A 1.5″ overlap is the least required on the 3-man offense rod and 2-man defense rod. A 1″ overlap is a plus on the 5-man rod. This allows more flexibility in the use of men for any ball position and increases the angle of offense and defense. No overlap or even falling short of covering the whole line is bad, creating spots no man on that rod can reach. There are indeed tables like that.
- Field surface and ball surface. These surfaces, if too smooth or slippery, contribute to difficulties of ball control. Soccer look-like balls do not help. Ball material is the most important factor.
- Do the men wiggle on the rod? If they do, expect them to wiggle even more and more over time since the gaps expand on frequent impact from kicking the ball. It feels like playing soccer wearing an over-sized shoe. This tends to happen to low-end tables with frequent men replacements.
Overall features offered
Besides the obvious, some extra features can greatly enhance user-friendliness and satisfaction:
- Weight-balanced men that can be placed horizontally so your own men’s feet do not block your own shots from the backfield (by the defense & goalie rods)
- Side slopes on both sides of the playing field to make the ball roll off and towards the centre, so the ball does not get stuck on the side. Most foosball tables use plastic add-ons. On Rock-it, this side slope (1″ in width) is built in as a part of the playing field.
- Machine-ground balls to achieve a rough surface on balls of slightly elastic material, for good ball control.
- Relatively flat playing field board supported underneath by strong supports.
- Pre-assembled table structure or pre-installed men on rods to reduce installation time.
When you play on foosball table, the workmanship says it all. The last things you want are lumps or an unlevel table when you are playing a game of foosball. These are characteristic of shoddy workmanship. The feel of the table should be such that you can enjoy watching the ball as it caroms across the table.
In line with the workmanship, you should also ensure that the material covering the foosball is of high quality. A good foosball table is covered in velvet. You should also ensure that the cloth covering the table doesn’t stain easily. It is characteristic of people to have a drink or two while they are playing. At times, accidents happen.
You should ensure that material lining the surface can be cleaned easily without damaging it. Sometimes shoddy foosball tables are covered with a material that blotches easily. This means that when you attempt to clean it, a nasty stain appears on it giving it an unpleasant appearance. Good foosball tables are lined with materials that are easy to clean with interfering with the texture and feel of the table.
Cheap is expensive and sometimes expensive might just mean a waste of money. How you approach the issue of cost when shopping for a foosball table is very important. Glittering ads might hide the fact that it is nothing more than a regular foosball table. Which most people tend to realize after buying it.
A good foosball table will cost the right price. The right price is determined by workmanship and the quality of the wood used to make the table. The rarity of the wood has an immense effect on the price in that the rarer the wood the greater the price. This in essence tends to deter people from buying high quality foosball tables.
The finishing of the table also plays a part in pricing. The best foosball tables have the best finishing in the market. Sometimes shopping for a foosball in a sporting goods store can be drudge work considering that at times prices are the same across the board. Garage sales are good places to pick up bargains. However, you should ensure that the price he or she is charging you is in line with the quality of the table.
Look At the Level of Expertise
The level of expertise should play a huge role in shopping for the best one. There are different tables for different levels of expertise.
When shopping for the top one, look at where you are skill wise. If you are a beginner you should look for a table that provides you room to develop your skill as a player. For advanced guys, look for a table that is more challenging still.
Overall, the best foosball table is a subtle mix of all the above.
In this day and age where everyone is engrossed in their day to day activities, there is little time to relax. However, if you can’t unwind then your overall performance is affected. One of the ways you can relax is to play foosball. However, if you want a good experience ensure that you buy the best foosball table in the market. You can apply the above qualities when shopping for one.
FAQs- Questions You Should Ask When Buying a Foosball Table
How are the Foosball Playing Rods Constructed?
Playing rods and how easily they can be handled during fast-paced playing are the single most important factor determining whether or how much fun a foosball table can offer the end user.
This is mostly decided at the drawing board.
Good playing rods should be mobilized easily by the player and should closely follow hand motion to pass the ball and make or block shots.
If the rods cannot be moved fast enough to catch the ball or to make a planned shot, it is the most frustrating thing in the world.
In such situations, no intended shots can be executed; the sense of satisfaction and fairness is lost; the arm gets tired quickly or even injured.
Some people resort to spinning the rods to strike the ball at random. There is no fun playing this way. One could find such tables everywhere. Yes, frequent lubrication of the rods can help. Some lubricants can even become very sticky after a while to make rod handling even harder. The problem just doesn’t go away.
Since rough rod-handling is caused by too much friction inside the rod bushing/bearing, and friction is a function of weight on the contact surface, reducing rod weight and thus the contact surface friction is the only viable long-term solution to the problem.
Imagine holding a 7-pound rod (traditional solid rods) and trying to overcome weight and friction. How can the player catch the ball or make pre-emptive shots when the hand and wrist are so much burdened?
Telescopic rods vs. Solid rods vs. Hollow rods
The foosball industry has recognized the need to reduce rod weight for easy handling. Some manufacturers use hollow rods with a small hollow hole going through the center of the rods.
These hollow rods are still very heavy. They also extend outside the side walls, which can be a safety hazard. Then telescopic rod structure came with the inside rod mounted to one side wall without going through it and the outside rod being the only moving part.
The outside rod is weighed a small portion of the solid rod of the same diameter beside shortened length. There is much less inertia to overcome while handling the rods, and they react quickly and easily to players’ hand operation.
However, telescopic rods must be constructed with particular material and dimensions to best balance strength, weight, and space for the inner rod.
Rod bushing vs. Ball bearing
Recently, nylon ball bearings have been seen to replace rod bushings to facilitate rod handling by reducing friction against solid rod movement.
These bearings work well to a certain extent, especially in facilitating spinning. However, a simple try-out will show that the weight of the solid rods can still greatly reduce the speed at which rods are moved laterally.
The inertia of the 7-lb. rods just feels too heavy to pull or push fast enough to keep up with the pace of the game.
Many skill shots rely heavily on rod speed to pass around the blocking men to score. Heavy inertia just slows down rod speed and compromises skill execution even with no friction.
Furthermore, some customers report that the small nylon balls in the bearings can easily dislocate and fall out, especially after playing wears the balls into smaller and skewed shapes, leaving a layer of nylon residue on the rods which may also obstruct rod handling.
Sometimes the rods may even seize as tiny plastic balls get stuck in the bearing.
On the other hand, with light telescopic rods, friction is much smaller in all contact areas. Ball bearings are not needed.
In fact, some industry insiders admit that ball bearings are more a marketing gimmick than a real treat. So when you see a foosball table with ball bearings, do not just try the rod spinning ( it spins great, for some time), try to move the rods fast laterally too, to catch a flying ball and do some ball passes.
Rubber block bumpers vs. Progressive springs
A simple survey of some foosball tables around you could indicate the following: when solid rods are pushed or pulled forcefully in intense play to cause the rubber bumpers to hit the side walls hard, these side walls may bend a bit and yield to such impact and shake the game structure built mostly of wood or plywood.
(This leads many people to believe that heavy-duty tables are preferred to endure aggressive playing.)
Over time, this repeated impact can easily break the rod bushings or strike them loose and make the whole game table shaky. Even worse, playing men can become loose.
Parts replacements are inevitable. Wrist injury from rigid shock impact and arm fatigue from laboring the heavy solid rods are also prevalent.
Again, all these problems can be attributable to the heavy solid rods, the great inertia and the rigid impact on the side walls. Furthermore, no matter how well designed the rubber block bumpers can be, the range of elasticity is very limited. The rubber block can also be easily damaged through use, simply due to the easy wear and tear of the material..