There could be two reasons you’d want to play foosball all by your lonesome. One, either you think you’re too bad and want to hone up your skills before actually facing, or two, you’re too good and everyone’s avoiding you. Whichever it is, here are some useful tips and tricks on how to practice foosball by yourself (or at least entice someone into playing with you).
First off, this one’s for the absolute novices –foosball is not as physical as volleyball or tennis, but you’d be surprised how much similarity there actually is. The general guidelines for posture are pretty much the same for both the sports mentioned, and they can apply to foosball. Your goal here is to minimize the time you need to react and be ready for sudden direction changes. So, the first thing you’ll want to do is drill this posture into your muscle memory – bend your knees slightly (but don’t overdo it) and lean forward (again, just a bit). Keep your wrists loose and your eyes pinned to where your opponent’s hands would be.
Secondly, before you actually start practicing, watch and learn. Nothing can beat watching other people play and disassembling their moves. If there are no decent players in your midst, you can always order a DVD or watch videos online. Then, and only then will you be ready to replicate the moves. And don’t go for the flamboyant stuff right out of the gate, either; stick to practicing the basics, and once you’ve got that down you can move to more complicated series. As Bruce Lee once famously said: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” And if the man himself says something, you can take that to the bank.
As mentioned above, you’ll want to drill the right posture into your muscle memory. On that same note, get into the habit of holding the handles loosely – you’ll know you’re doing it right if there’s a bit of space between the handle and your palm. Also, it’s important that you loosen your wrists and practice turning them quickly on shots so that the rod makes about 180 (and, no, spinning the rod is not allowed).
If you’re training for one on one games, you should practice holding the two defensive rods with one hand – use your thumb and pinkie and hold the rod itself rather than the handle just where it meets the handle. This should go a long way to increasing your grip.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get another thing straight – practicing offense solo is no problem, whether it’s passing, shooting, moving, doing it quickly and haphazardly or slowly and deliberately. However, when it comes to practicing defense, the most you can do is train yourself to race in either direction. Alternatively, you might want to watch tournament videos and break down some of the more frequent defensive patterns. Alternatively, move your men in a random fashion, switching sides to figure out how to attack that position, and then work up a defensive strategy around it. It’s more theorizing than actually practicing, but it’ll help.
As for the offense, there’s really just one thing you need to keep in mind – possession is the key; as long as you hold the ball, you dictate the tempo. Now, how to practice passing the ball without losing it – that’s the real trick. For a start, you’ll need to get the lateral pass sorted out – be sure to tilt your men at angle so that the ball doesn’t bounce off them (30 to 45 degrees should do the trick). Also, practice pinning the ball against the wall until it’s your second nature, and your passes from your 5 bar to the offensive 3 bar will become a breeze.
Speaking of angles, you’ll need to hone up your shooting skills. Practice hitting the ball at an angle and make physics your friend. By this stage you should’ve managed the lateral pass (and catching the ball). Get it as stationary as possible, and then hit it obliquely (just graze it rather than hitting straight on). Repeat until perfect.
The final step is practicing all of the above, but faster – don’t rush it, just gradually add speed to your moves. Rinse and repeat.
Finally, there’s no better way to get better than actually going out and playing the game. Even if you’re afraid you’re not good enough. Doesn’t matter if you lose by a landslide, sooner or later you’ll start winning if you keep at it. Even the best foosball table players had to start somewhere!
On a related, but entirely different note, if you’re too good at the game and can’t find any willing partners, play with a handicap to entice them. Playing a with handicap will help both you and your less-than-willing opponents improve your game. Your 5-bar pass is sloppy? Use the opportunity to practice that. Your pull shot sucks? Make it your only offensive technique. They can’t score? Spot them. Playing in pairs? Always take the weakest player. You get the idea.
To sum up – whether you’re a novice looking to go competitive, or a seasoned player in need of sparing partners, you should keep in mind that there’s no better way to do it than actually playing the game. However, if you’re dead set on practicing foosball by yourself, I hope these tips get you off on the right foot.