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Foosball Instruction

Guide to Passing
Content from rec.sport.table-soccer FAQ2 v 2.4
Guide to Passing (for beginners and intermediates)
(C) 1995 Robert Uyeyama http://www.foosballheaven.com/
Permission granted to foosmanchu.com to publish in modified HTML format.



PART I - 5-3 Bar Passing, advice for beginners

At first, when seeing players much better than yourself for the first time, it seems most tempting to concentrate on learning their seemingly awesome shots, and how to defend against them. However, eventually even this sort of knowledge will be insufficient, especially in any level of competitive play; for even if you possess an unstoppable three bar shot and your opponent a medicore shot, but if you cannot get the ball from the five bar to your three bar, and your opponent can, you will lose the majority of games. Of course, without ball control and a fairly high-percentage (i.e. "good") shot on the three bar, passing it here will do little good. So once you've developed enough ball control to set the ball where you want on the three bar, and once you've learned a pretty good shot, you should cease most shooting from the five bar and concentrate on getting the ball to your high-percentage scorer, the three-bar.

The easiest pass, especially for use against other beginner opponents, is the "wall-pass." This pass can be done either on the near or far wall. The near wall description follows: Pull your three bar all the way to the wall, and DO NOT move it off of the wall: the ball will be travelling near the wall to the three bar, and if your three bar comes even a hair off of the wall, the ball may roll past you between your near man and the wall-- remember the bumper on the wall prevents your man from actually being in contact with the wall, so that "on the wall" actually means almost a full ball-length away from the wall!

To facilitate catching a fast pass, angle your three bar forward, about at the angle at which you would be able to front-pin an imaginary ball, i.e. head backwards, toes forward. This way the man absorbs more of the impact of a fast moving ball, instead of causing the ideally fast pass to simply ricochet out of reach, probably to your opponent's five-bar region.

Note: (For a more advanced catching technique, see part II "Guide to Brush Passing", which explains a wrist flick that is done with the catching bar at the same time as the pass, so that the maximum extension of the men is at the forward angle I have just described in the previous paragraph.)

To pass a wall pass, position the ball an inch or two away from the wall along the five bar (but don't put the ball ON the wall, since your man is not on the wall), and "shoot" it straight and hard to pass to the near man on your three bar. Note a few points:

  1. This pass, if done correctly, deposits the ball squeezed in the space between the near man on the 3-bar and the wall
  2. But even if passed directly onto the man's toe, the pass is easily caught
  3. However, if passed into the space described in 1), it is possible to EASILY catch a pass that is as fast as your fastest five-bar shot! (although such a high-velocity pass may also be caught, with more practice, directly on the toe of the man)
  4. Also note that this "wall" pass can be done with the ball's starting position even up to and past a full ball-length away from the wall
  5. Note: with most beginner level opponents you can wait until they flinch away from the wall, and if you can do the fast version of the pass, you can pass it through that fraction-of-a-second flinch
  6. Note than in a fast-paced game, you will eventually be able to immediately do a wall pass when you catch the ball on your five bar, e.g. when your five-bar blocks a two-bar shot. (However in competitive play, all tournament level opponents would easily intercept such an on-the-fly wall pass.)

Two more things to think about:

  • You DEFINITELY SHOULD start now to make it a habit to keep your three bar in the front-angled position at all times, always ready to catch a moving ball, esp. from an on-the-fly wall pass
  • If your opponent learns to cover the wall pass,your five-bar angle shot may be open, and if so, you can shoot, or even try to pass through that hole.

This type of pass is called a LANE pass (i.e. passing through the space between the first and second men on the opposing five bar when it is on the wall.) This is a tournament level option here; if you can pass both a lane or a wall pass from the SAME position, and if you can pass the ball at high speed, you have a tournament-competitive pass. This option is described in the next part, II: 5-3 passing, Guide to Brush Passing. But for now, if you are only beginning, practice your ball control, your three-bar shot, and your fast wall pass.

One other beginner pass: Roll the ball down toward either wall. At the FAR END of the 2nd man's reach (i.e. the closest the 2nd man will reach toward the wall), pass the ball lightly with the 2nd man, angling it toward the wall (where your three bar resting). This angle is easy, since it is in the same direction as the ball's original direction of motion.

Rationale: Beginning opponents will tend to follow the ball, and as they also bang their rods against the wall, their 2nd man can no longer guard the ANGLE-pass you just shot OUT OF its reach; only the 1st man can guard it and he just banged into the wall as your opponent followed the motion of the ball!

TWO TRICK PASSES that are good to know, but taken by themselves are useless to depend upon... i.e. if you're going to practice a pass, skip this section and practice chapter II's brush pass instead):

  1. Begin with the ball (slightly to the rear of the rod), between your first an second man of the near side. In one single fluid motion, pull the rod then flick your wrist. This will result in the 2nd man passing the ball to the 1st man (a "kick" or lateral pass), which then immedietaly passes the ball along the wall; this can be done VERY fast; practice this fast or not at all. Placing the ball slightly toward the rear helps make a smaller lag time between the kick and the wall pass, and in general is a good habit in passing.
  2. Bounce the ball rapidly between the 1st and 2nd man. On one of the bounces, lift your man as the ball approaches the 1st man and pass it, either along the wall, or along the lane. Practice the wall pass version first, since it's similar to pass "1)". This works because with every bounce you are potentially moving the ball in position for a pass; your opponent can't react to every bounce effectively, nor can he easily tell which bounce will be the real pass. Note that you can bounce it back and forth by mostly moving the men to meet the ball, rather than bouncing the ball the full possible range between the two men; note also that this motion can be done with the ball bouncing in a range rather near the wall, or away from the wall, or both in unpredictable succession. This bouncing is the basis for the "stick-pass" series, which is not described here.

PRACTICE TIPS FOR EVERYONE: Most beginners don't know the ranges of each man's reach on the five bar, and don't know very well the edges of the men's reach on the three bar. So: Lift the opposing five-bar, and just pass back and forth between your five and three, doing ALL angle passes. The straight passes are easy to learn and intuitive, but intercepting an angling ball with the five bar is the part that is the hardest and needs the practice. Most people just wake up one morning after practicing the night before and find that their brain has figured it all out!

For defending against passes, you can either angle your men forward and attempt to "swat" at the passes, so that they bounce to your three bar or back to your five bar... Or you can angle your men backwards so that you will catch any blocked passes, so that now it is your turn to pass-- you don't want your opponent to keep regaining possession of passes you have blocked! But don't angle them too far back, because you'll unknowingly be leaving the wall pass always open! The general motion is an unpredictable back-forth motion done very rapidly to swat away all slow and medium-speed passes. See the "learning-foosball" faq (#4) for more tips on 5-rod defense.




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