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rec.sport.table-soccer FAQ4 - Learning Foosball - 1994/05/14


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Archive-name: sports/table-soccer/learning-foosball
Rec-sport-table-soccer-archive-name: learning-foosball
Alt-sport-foosball-archive-name: learning-foosball
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1995/12/26
URL: http://www.foosballheaven.com/
Copyright: (c) 1995 Robert Uyeyama
Version: 1.2a

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**************************************
REC.SPORT.TABLE-SOCCER  FAQ 4 v1.2a
Guide for Beginners and Intermediates
LEARNING FOOSBALL
*************************************

(C) Copyright 1995 Robert Uyeyama. 
Permission granted to distribute free, freely. Rob Uyeyama 
(uyeyama@hawaii.SPAMNOTedu)

The latest version of this file is available at the table-soccer FTP
site at Foosball Heaven,  http://www.foosballheaven.com/


____________
Introduction
____________

For whom is this file written?  This essay is is intended for a 
wide variety of players; there are three separate chapters for 
three arbitrarily selected levels of play of people who have 
little or no experience in competition.  This ranges from the 
absolute-beginner to someone who can be quite good, but not 
"tournament-hardened".

This file is not intended to limit postings to RSTS.  If you 
have further questions, please feel free post.  We're a friendly 
bunch.  :-)

The three chapters are as follows:
    Chapter One is for those who have essentially _never_ played 
before, or are just learning how to play.
    Chapter Two is for those who have played for several months 
to several years, but only on a casual level-- for these 
people, they rarely have considered practicing, shots are 
impressive only once in a while, but they certainly haven't 
taken the game strategy seriously... until now... and wish to 
learn more. 
    Chapter Three is a short list of advice for those who have 
played seriously, even for several years, but only on a very 
local level.  This would include bar-players and 
college-players who are considered among the best at their 
respective home ground, but who have not had any "big" 
tournament experience.

Introduction:
____________
A fact which may come as a surprise (a welcome one) to many is 
that foosball/table-soccer is played on a competitive (read: 
"professional") level.  There are several "tours" which exist, 
and these tours organize various regional, national, and even 
"world" championships!  For example, in the United States, there 
is the well-established United States Table Soccer Association 
(USTSA) and the nascent American Table Soccer Federation (ATSF).  
These organizations are manufacturer-based, in other words they 
are not player organizations, but rather promoting organs 
sponsored by the table manufacturers: USTSA for Tornado (817 
561-0511), and ATSF for Dynamo/Striker (800 527-6054).  Contact 
these phone numbers for more information on regular 
draw-your-partner events in your area, as well as for upcoming 
national and regional events-- go see tournament foos today!

The older tours were played on Tournament Soccer (TS), Dynamo, 
and Hurricane tables in the 60's and 70's, but now the quality 
of the newer brands of tables has much improved, prompting some 
players to label the older tables as mere "toys".  So if you 
haven't played on a Tornado or Striker, you really are missing a 
lot, and perhaps even learning wrongly that some things are not 
possible on a foosball table.  For example, the "modern" balls 
tend to be made of a very durable plastic (urethane), causing 
the balls not to dent and therefore they will always roll 
completely straight.  The shapes and even fastenings for the men 
have changed so that catching, kicking, and tic-tac-ing are much 
easier; what is tic-tac-ing? Imagine passing rapidly between the 
men on your three bar for up to several minutes on end-- the 
sound the ball makes as it bounces between the men gives this 
motion its name.  Other improvements include very flat playing 
fields, individually adjustable table legs, smoother bearings, 
lighter rods, counterweighted men, etc.  Most people which 
switch over to these tables do not like them at first, but 
within a few weeks of playing, the verdict is unanimous: no one 
would dream of going back to playing seriously on their "old" 
table, sentimental feelings aside.

So the purpose of this file, and indeed the newsgroup itself, is 
to promote the sport of foosball.  This particular file is 
important, because by encouraging new players to begin playing, 
and encouraging the large bulk of non-competitive experienced 
players to enter competitive play, we will certainly make a 
great step towards that goal.

Happy Foosing,
Rob Uyeyama (uyeyama@ hawaii.SPAMNOTedu)

___________________________________
CHAPTER 1 
Getting Hooked: No Spinning Allowed
___________________________________

This chapter is intended for those who have little or no 
experience in foosball at all, or for those who wish to "teach" 
others who have little or no experience.

    If you're reading this, you've probably encountered good 
players, perhaps so good you didn't even dream that this "game" 
could be taken so seriously.  But it is great fun, and you're 
probably also on your way to getting hooked.  This is the most 
important part; take the sport as fun, and never be discouraged 
by any silly, competitive attitudes you may run across when 
playing other "good" players.  Whether you want to learn how to 
beat these people, or simply ignore them and just have fun with 
your friends, it will benefit you to learn more about the sport.
    The main goals which will be discussed are: 1) Discovering 
what is possible; 2) Learning basic skills; 3) Discovering what 
to practice (yes, practice).  Let us begin with the first 
concept: what is possible?  First of all, the game consists of 
putting the ball in your opponent's goal, and keeping it out of 
yours-- that's obvious.  But there are good and bad ways of 
accomplishing this.  The most common problem is "spinning the 
rods."  Here are the most often-cited points that are good about 
spinning the rods: 1) you can hit the ball HARD with little or 
no effort 2) you hit the ball more often; 3) because of 1 & 2, you 
probably score more often; 4) this method is fun and energetic; 
5) if you don't spin, you miss the ball a lot, hit it slowly, 
score less, and look lame.
    REASONS WHY YOU SHOULDN'T SPIN THE RODS: 1) you can hit the 
ball about as hard as your spin by practicing a wrist-flick (to 
be described) in less than a week; 2) you can easily learn to 
hit the ball more often than a random spin; 3) you can 
accurately aim the ball and score, while a spin-shot is pretty 
random or only straight and easily blockable by an alert 
opponent; 4) you are in position to catch loose balls if you 
don't spin, creating  more scoring opportunities; 5) spinning 
can damage the table (by breaking men, pins/screws, or damaging 
the rod itself).  The third and fourth reasons are the most 
compelling since you'll score more often, while the first two 
are just ways of saying, "you get the same benefits as spinning 
anyways with very little practice."
    So: don't spin the rods.  Now as far as offensive play, how 
do you get these benefits?  This is what is important:  1) 
practicing your wrist-flick, and; 2) aiming the ball.   Not 
spinning the rods also helps you on defense, and that will be 
discussed immediately afterwards.
    WRIST FLICK: if you can't seem to hit the ball very hard 
(without spinning), how do you do it?  First of all, try it with 
your right hand, since that hand will be doing almost all 
shooting.  Put the ball on the playfield under your front 
three-man rod, in the center in front of an open goal (lift the 
defending rods for an open shot).  Now, practice hitting the 
ball as hard as possible straight into the goal from this 
position-- use your middle man and _don't_ push or pull the rod:  
1) Stand slightly to the left of the rod, and away from the 
table; 2) Hold on to the handle, and don't let go; 3) Now, 
"forget" about both your arm and your hand, and only concentrate 
on your WRIST; 4) "Throw" your wrist as hard as you can 
_straight_ down towards the _floor_, past the side of the 
handle, resulting in 5) your wrist snapping downward-- since of 
course your hand is still gripping the handle, the motion stops 
as your wrist locks abruptly-- this is the wrist flick!
    AIMING: set the ball up along the 3-rod as previously.  This 
time, instead of concentrating on speed, consider your control 
of the aim.  Observe that if you hit the ball dead-on, the ball 
travels straight into the goal.  Now change your rod's position, 
so that if you swing (wrist flick) straight (without 
push/pulling the rod), you'll hit the left 1/4 of the ball.  
Swing.  Notice that the ball angled to the right.  Different 
distances from the edge of the ball produce different angles.  
Beginning your swing with the front of the man's toe touching 
the back of the ball gives you more control than if the toe 
begins from the air way out from behind the ball.  Now try 
aiming a shot into an undefended goal from every single man on 
your five-man rod.  You can even hit a ball in from the very 
edge of the table!
    Before we go on, let me mention an alternative way of 
hitting a ball hard, this is called the "open hand", or "fan" 
technique.  Basically, you cock your rod & men backwards to shoot by 
rolling the handle clockwise up your palm as you open your hand, 
fingers toward the floor.  As you shoot, you reverse the motion 
and roll the handle back (counterclockwise) to your fingers, 
which catch the handle tightly.  Done quickly, this open-close 
motion can result in a very hard shot.  Control with the 
open-hand "fan" is more difficult that a normal wrist-flick, but 
it can be learned. 
    FUNDAMENTALS OF DEFENSE:  Again, don't spin the rods.  You 
can only block an incoming shot if your men are straight down, 
which they aren't about 80% time when they're spinning; yet it's 
fairly common for beginners to do this anyways.  Why?  Because 
it looks cool, and once in a while, a shot blocked by a spinning 
rod will immediately become an offensive shot towards your 
opponents goal-- neither of these reasons are compelling.  Even 
if you're not spinning, don't get eager to shoot the ball:  Stop 
the ball, then shoot it. ;)   Otherwise, you'll often lose the 
ball, resulting usually in a possession and a quick goal from 
your opponent's dreaded 3-rod.
     So, what else do you do?  Your opponent can aim the ball 
just like you can.  Therefore, you want to guard both the 
STRAIGHT shot, and all ANGLE shots.  Remember if you can draw a 
line from the ball to your goal, that shot is open.  Never 
position your two men (your middle goalie and one of the men on 
the two-man rod) behind each other- if you do, you're just 
blocking the same place twice, and you might as well just lift 
one of the men, and your defense wouldn't be any worse for it!  
Just experiment, placing the ball on _all_ parts along the 
opposing 3-rod, and positioning your defensive men to block both 
the straight and angle shots.  Remember if you can draw a line 
from the ball to your goal, that shot is open.  (Did I just say 
that?)  Now your opponent either rely on you to flinch and open 
these holes, or must "race" you, moving the ball horizontally 
along his three-rod until it reaches a position where a 
diiferent straight shot (or sometimes the angle) is open.  
Defending against opponents who try this latter option will be 
discussed in Chapter 2.  Also, be very aware that shots from the 
opposing 5-rod and 2-rod can also be blocked in this way-- you 
just have to learn to expect a shot from these areas of the 
table, and block most of the possible "lines" to your goal.  
Just being aware of these "lines" and trying to block them will 
make a big difference.  Finally, if you're shooting from the 
defensive region, remember you can still aim it, and take your 
time to lift up your 5- and 3-rods (or in doubles, tell your 
partenr) so that you'll never block your own shot!
    WITH WHICH HAND DO YOU HOLD WHICH ROD in singles play? 1) 
When you're defending against a 3-rod shot, hold BOTH of your 
defensive rods (goalie & 2-man)-- Ditto for when you're shooting from 
your defensive region.  2) When you're defending an opponent's 
defensive-region shot, you should have your right hand on your 
3-rod, and your left either on your 5-rod or goalie-rod; the 
latter may be more effective at first.  When the ball is in the 
center region, you should have your L & R hand on the goalie-rod and 
5-rod (maximum defense).  3) Later, when you learn how to pass 
and you have possession of the ball, you can stop the ball, and 
switch to holding the 5-rod and the 3-rod (ready for offense or 
passing to the 3-rod), and when you get much better, you may 
wish to stay in this position for defense against the opposing 
5-rod or 2-rod, so that you are ready to catch any loose balls 
on your 3-rod.
    BALL-CONTROL (or how not to lose the ball): this is 
especially for those playing on tables which are not Tornado or 
Striker, and tables which are old, dented, and otherwise warped.  
Ball control is much easier on the Tornado and Striker, but the 
skills in this section are still essential to learn for these 
tables too.  To be able to use your growing arsenal, you need to 
be able to "maneuver" the ball, and not lose it.  There are 
three exercises which are good to do, all on the 3-rod. 
1)  INTERCEPTION: Try _very_ lightly tapping the front of the 
ball (with the back of your toe), then as the ball rolls back, 
tapping the back of the ball (with the front of your toe).  
Continue to gently tap the ball back and forth; this 
back-and-forth distance will be less than an inch-- the skill 
being learned here is to rapidly lift the man and swing it 
around to the other side of the ball to prevent it from rolling 
away.  You will find the shape of the motion to be a series of 
"C" shapes around the ball.  2)  PINNING:  In the second 
exercise again begin by tapping one side (front or back) of the 
ball, but this time let it roll further.  Move in the same "C" 
shape as if to intercept it, but leave your toe lifted in the 
air.  When the ball rolls under your man's toe, bring it down 
forcefully on the _top_ surface of the ball to "pin" it to the 
playing field, resulting in a sudden stop.  Practice both 
versions (i.e. tap back of ball then front-pin; tap front of 
ball then back-pin).  This develops the reflex to suddenly and 
confidently "catch" a ball which is too difficult to intercept 
by method 1).  For example, this "pin" catch is very useful for 
a ball which is rolling away at high speed.  3)  BALL MOVEMENT:  
The third exercise is to pass the ball from one man on the 3-rod 
to another, steady the ball, and again pass it to the next man 
on the rod.  Continue passing among all three men on the rod.  
The skill here is maneuvering the ball wherever you wish it to 
be along your rod.  Also try bringing the ball to a stop at 
various points along the rod.  You will find that the skills 
learned in 1) and 2) are very useful to prevent the ball from 
rolling away out of reach-- try and develop a feel for when it 
is better to use 1) vs. 2) to retrieve a ball about to roll away 
from you.  These skills of interception, pinning, and 
ball-movement are applicable to all rods of a foosball table.
    Now that you can wrist-flick hard, aim the ball, know how to 
act on defense, and know how to maneuver a ball without losing 
it, you are hereby no longer a "spinner"!


__________________________________________
Chapter 2
Learning that Consistency is the Key--
Resolving to Practice & Stop the Ball
__________________________________________

This chapter is intended for players who have casually played the game 
(and never took it seriously) for many months or even years, and for 
those who have been seriously playing but only for a few months.

    If you're reading this chapter, you may play the game largely to 
pass time while being entertained-- you may have played the game like 
this for a few years, even going through a few short periods of 
"foos-addiction" and taking the game seriously.  Now, after all this 
time, you've finally become tired of that/those "good" players still 
being much better than you are and would like to know if it's worth the 
effort to get that good.  Answer: The effort required is much less than 
you think; the keys are knowing what to practice, and knowing strategy.
    What may seem to be the answer at first is acquiring an arsenal of 
unstoppable shots; this is untrue!  Although having such an arsenal 
isn't necessarily a disadvantage, all you need on the 3-bar is one good 
shot... learning all of the other shots will simply make you 2nd-best 
in all of them, and very good at none.  However one unstoppable shot 
from the 3-rod is not enough either; you need a good 5-rod to pass it 
to your 3-rod unstoppably.  Re-learning your defense is less critical 
at this point (for tips on learning a moving-defense see Chapter 3).
    So in summary:  1) choose a shot and learn it well; 2) Learn the 
5-rod brush-pass, and use it so you can use your shot; and 3) learn 
essential strategy so you can put your shot and pass to good use.  All 
of these parts must be performed consistently and effortlessly-- using 
your best shot or pass once in a while, or having it be inconsistent 
(i.e. it works great half of the time) will make all of your effort 
moot.  1-3 are described in turn:

3-ROD SHOT:
___________ 
    You should choose _one_ main shot.  My advice is choose the pull.  
If you play on a Tornado or Stryker table, you can choose either the 
pull or the snake; on some of the older tables, snake-shots are often 
more difficult and less potent.  Read FAQ6 for instructions on these 
offensive weapons-- included are instructions for both beginners and 
intermediates.  Once you have chosen a shot, it is very important to 
use it strategically... in other words _every single time_ you get the 
ball on your 3-rod; the point here is that your favorite shot is also 
your highest-percentage shot.  Having a wide-arsenal is fun and flashy, 
but the "one-shot-player" will win the most matches!  Make sure your 
setup is the best it can be; for example with a pull, make sure your 
3-rod is pushed all the way to the wall; if it isn't, the defense has 
less goal to defend, and your scoring percentage will simply go down!
    Why the pull is good: Good shooters can shoot the shot so fast the 
defense cannot race the shooter to the hole.  The pull-shot begins with 
the ball on the right side of the middle-man with the 3-bar is pushed 
to the wall; as you pull the rod, the ball moves horizontally, and you 
eventually shoot the ball in.  Remember a good stationary defense will 
cover your straight shot and angle shot.  By moving the ball 
horizontally far enough you will be able to shoot a straight shot to 
the right side of the goal; the defense will obviously move his men to 
the right side of the goal.  Therefore for the shot to succeed, you 
must "race" the defense to that open hole; if you have a slow pull 
shot, it's useless.  If you have a fast one, you can _always_ beat a 
set defense to the hole!
    Some caveats:  A fast pull can be beaten by a set defense if the 
timing of the shot is predictable... in other words don't set up your 
shot, wait a  consistently predictable two seconds, then shoot it-- a 
blazing fast "2-second pull" is raceable.  By USTSA rules, you have 15 
seconds on your 3-rod, so use your time and "sit on it"!  You will also 
be able to analyze the defense during this time.  Also, practice 
shooting the straight shot (!) accurately in the case of a good 
moving-defense.
    Why the snake is good:  This shot begins in a front pin in the 
exact center of the 3-bar.  The shot is good because it can be as fast 
as a pull shot, but can be shot in both directions: the pull-snake to 
the right corner and the push-snake to the left-corner... the defense 
doesn't know what to defend!  If these are both covered, the straight 
shot is open.  For this reason, the snake is most useful when its setup 
is in the center of the table.  Most people think the snake-shot is 
easier to learn than the pull, and for this reason some people 
recommend learning the snake to beginners; people can get quite good at 
the shot in only a month!  And once you learn the shot, you will find 
the soreness of your wrist will disappear.  But learning to really 
master the shot, however, is not easy either.
    If you don't want to _practice_ a shot _at all_, but still would 
like to score better, doing the push-kick or the pull-kick (see 
definition in FAQ1) _every time_ you get the ball on your 3-rod will 
improve your scoring percentage.  Why?  I am not implying that these 
are bad shots to learn in the long-run; many people have unstoppable 
push-kicks and pull-kicks.  The reason these shots are recommended in 
this context is that even a medium-speed push-kick or pull-kick can 
score reasonably against a good defender; a medium-speed pull or snake 
is much easier to block!  This is because where you intend to shoot the 
ball is more unpredictable-- the ball begins on the inside of either of 
the outer-men on the 3-rod (left man = pull-kick setup; right man = 
push-kick setup).  The ball is passed horizontally to the middle man, 
who shoots it straight in.  This middle man can shoot the ball straight 
into either the left or right corner of the goal, depending on how far 
the horizontal pass is.  If the horizontal pass is even medium-fast, it 
becomes difficult for the defender to predict which corner you are 
aiming for. So practice shooting the _edges_:  the edge of the near 
corner and the far corner of the goal.  The middle of the goal will 
usually be blocked in any case, but if you always aim for the corners, 
you will be most unpredictable to the defender!  Also, be aware of two 
more options: 1) a faked pass w/the outer man who instead angle-shoots 
it toward the near corner, or 2) executes an outer-man push or pull 
shot toward the near corner.
    However, mastering a pull-kick or push-kick shot so that your 
scoring percentage is very high tends to be more difficult than getting 
to this same percentage with a pull or a snake shot.  So if you are 
going to practice a shot, make it the pull or snake.  If you refuse to 
practice, but still want to score more, always use a push-kick or 
pull-kick.  And always use your best shot.

5-ROD PASS
__________
    Having an unstoppable 3-rod shot is useless if you never get the 
ball on your 3-rod!  A good opponent will do exactly this.  Even if no 
players in your area can keep the ball away from your 3-bar the entire 
game, learning a good 5-rod pass will still do wonders!  You can play 
someone with a better shot, and if your pass is better, you will get 
more scoring opportunities, and things will even out in your favor.
    If you're going to practice anything on your 5-bar at all, practice 
the "Brush Pass"-- read FAQ2 and skip straight to the "brush passing" 
section.  The brush pass techniques will begin bearing improvements to 
your game almost immediately.  So the brush-pass is _as_ important as 
learning a good 3-rod shot.  Spend as much time practicing this as your 
you do your shot.
    What else do you need to know about your 5-rod?  You should be able 
to: 1) block opposing defensive shots; 2) block opposing 5-rod passes.  
The first point is difficult for many people because there are "too 
many men" on the rod, and the range of motion of that rod is very 
limited.  The following exercise (also described in FAQ3) is very 
helpful: Lift up the opposing 5-rod.  Pass the ball back and forth 
between your 5-rod and your 3-rod, doing ALL ANGLE PASSES.  The 
straight passes are easy to intercept, but the angle passes are the 
ones which teach the range of motion for each man on the 5-rod; it may 
be frustrating but even a few 10-15 minute sessions will help vastly.  
Once your "intuition" for the 5-rod is improved, you will block more 
shots from the opposing defensive region.  Also, by using this 
intuition, you can begin using your 3-rod men to block the "holes" in 
your five-bar (usually the spaces between the 2nd & 3rd and 3rd & 4th 
men).  "Meshed" in this way,  both your 3-rod and 5-rod can contribute in 
the most effective way.
    The second point, blocking passes, will be improved just by the 
intuitions developed while learning the brush pass; also you can block 
slow-medium speed passes by moving your 5-rod back and forth rapidly, 
so that you "swat" away any passes.  Moving unpredictably back and 
forth can also make it more difficult for a good passer to choose the 
open pass.  Remember that your wall pass is very open because the 
bumper on the five-bar prevents your men from actually touching the 
wall; against very good brush-passers, you can "twitch", pretending to 
move the five-bar off of the wall (or lane), but actually keeping it 
stationary-- mix your "twitches" and back-and-forth movements.  This 
advice even should be applied to on a standard moving-defense in the 
defensive-region!
    Finally, if you have practice your brush-pass, a consequence will 
be that you will habitually keep your 3-rod angled forward, making it 
much easier to catch loose balls.  If the defense is shooting, you can 
angle it backwards to try to catch a blocked shot.  When your 5 and 3 
rod are both lifted for any reason, they should swing to the 
horizontal, the 5 rod clockwise, the 3 rod counter-clockwise.  In this 
way, your 3-rod is ready to catch an incoming loose ball, and the 5-rod 
is ready to block a bounce off of the opposing 5-rod.

STRATEGY:
    After you learn your chosen shot and the brush pass, you must do 
two things with these: learn to execute these consistently (19 out of 
20 times) and religiously use them in real play.
    In addition to your shot, pass, and shot-pass strategy, there 
are 
additional points  1) _never ever_ accidentally lose a ball you have 
possession of-- practicing pinning hard any ball which is about to get 
away from you; 2) learn to _always_ foos the ball to yourself-- 
practice this; 3) _never_ repeat bad strategies; 4) _never_ shoot the 
ball from the 5-rod; 5) learn ball control & pass-catching, and when you 
lift 
your 3-rod up swing it up counter-clockwise/toes-forward-- this is so 
you will learn to catch loose balls like velcro.
    In more detail:
    Your shot options (long, middle, straight) should be practiced to 
at least 9 out of 10 consistency, and preferably 19 out of 20.  The 
same goes for each of your brush pass options (wall-pass/brush-down, 
lane-pass/brush-up).  Once you're this consistent, don't even dream of 
using a less effective trick shot or second shot in a tournament.  The 
same goes for hacking from the 5-bar-- sure, you may sometimes score, 
but since your pass and shot are so consistent, your scoring percentage
_per 5-bar possession_ will be higher if you brush pass and shoot from 
your 3-bar instead!  Maximize your percentages!  Ditto goes for losing 
the ball; a lost ball on a 5-rod possession may mean one less point for 
you; losing the ball from the defensive region may give your opponent a 
3-rod shot opportunity, which is _bad_ if his shot is as good as yours! 
If you can't serve the ball to yourself, that's as bad as losing a 
5-rod possession!
    Learn to keep your 3-rod either swung up counter-clockwise and 
horizontally with toes-forward, or down with the toes still slightly 
angled forward.  In either case you are ready or almost-ready to catch 
a loose ball or quick pass.  On a Tornado, this forward-angle can also 
"auto-stuff" defensive shots when the ball bounces hard off of the 
3-man's toe.  The uncommon exception to the rule is when your 
opponent's defensive shots are weak, you can consider angling your 
3-man backwards (in this case only) to try to "catch" the shot by 
blocking it.
    But when you lift your 5-rod, lift it by turning the rod _clockwise_
.  And when it is down defending against a 2-rod shot, angle it 
toes-slightly-forward so that any hard shots will bounce hard off the 
toe, and perhaps into the opposing goal (i.e. "auto-stuff") or at least 
to you 3-rod which is waiting angled-forward (if you read the last 
paragraph) and automatically ready to catch any such rebound; hence 
when you lift both rods, the two lines will "swing away" from each 
other, 3-rod counter clockwise, 5-rod clockwise.
    Never shooting from the 5-rod was explained above.  Also, a blocked 
5-rod shot may mean a 5-rod possession and therefore a point for your 
opponent!  Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule.  These 
exceptions will be discussed next, but remembers they are only 
exceptions to fine-tune your strategy, not excuses to have lapses in 
your strategy.
    The most difficult point is the one about not repeating bad 
strategies.  For example, let's pretend your chosen (and best) shot on 
offense is the pull.  If your opponent blocks your first attempt, you 
should probably stick with the same shot.  However, if many more pulls 
are blocked, you may consider going to your second-shot, or even a 
trick shot; in this case, although your pull is your best shot, it is 
not the best shot to use _against this opponent_.  You may find the 
snake works better; you should experiment and find what your best shot 
is, and stick with that.  An unexpected one-time trick shot may also be 
worth one point here, but no more than that.
    The same goes for a 5-rod shot, or a shot or pass immediately upon 
foosing the ball.  If it's unexpected, and you think your chances are 
high for scoring, it may be justified.  Try it once.  Remember it's all 
percentages: repeatedly using these tricks or hacks will only make you 
score less.
    The same goes for defense.  Suppose you use a stationary 
race-defense and it usually works, but if one day you should run up 
against someone who always scores on you, you should drop the race 
defense, and experiment with a moving-defense; although if you're not 
familiar with a moving-defense, you may still block 50% or 25% of the 
shots, while previously you were blocking about 0% with the 
race-defense.  Now, instead of a hopeless race, the burden is now on 
the shooter who has to guess which holes you are opening, and when.
     Remember, you can also vary the _type_ of moving defense that you 
use; if the opponent is always scoring on your moving defense when you 
use your far 2-man, switch to your 1-man periodically-- if the opponent 
scores too often when you bait the long shot, bait the middle or 
straight.  So switching the 2-man that you use is good, just as long as 
you don't do it too often-- if the shooter can count on you switching, 
he can wait for the switch then shoot it in.  Also, to increase the 
unpredictability of your defensive motions, remember to experiment with 
your mix of several techiniques: 1) a periodically standstill rod, 2) a 
moving rod, (push/pull movement), 3) back-forth circular movements of 
the men, 4) "twitching" movements to give the appearance that your men 
are going to move to another spot in the defense, but actually stay 
put; 5) switching your 2-man; 6) leaving the straight-shot open.
    In summary, when you are using a moving-defense, _think_ about what 
areas you are blocking-- don't get caught just moving your men back and 
forth across the front of the goal without being aware of which holes 
are being opened most, and which hole is likely to look most enticing 
to the shooter.  A moving-defense is _not_ strictly a random defense; 
there is a lot of subtle "baiting" to be done along with the 
unpredictability.  Be able to adjust your defense for different 
opponents as soon as possible.
    You get the idea: figure out what works, then stick to it.  This 
means using your brush-pass and "best"-shot sequence.  Keep the 
exceptions infrequent, and make the exceptions work toward your scoring 
and blocking percentages.
    Summary: use the tools you have practiced to your advantage!


_____________________________________________
Chapter 3
So You Thought You Were Good...
But Then You Went to the First Big Tournament
_____________________________________________

    This chapter will be short, but will also be on the topic most dear 
to my heart.  The chapter title describes me a few years ago, and the 
only difference today is that I'm still not good, but now I know it...
    My only advice is that if you're beating all the players around 
you, you _have_ to go out and find players who can beat _you_.  Then 
you'll see what great foosball is like, and then you may be motivated 
to practice that brush-pass, that moving-defense, and all those other 
techniques that seemed like sheer nonsense to you before.
    Probably the easiest way to find good players in your area is to 
find local Tornado tournaments.  Call the Tornado Promotions Hot Line 
at (817) 561-0511, and they will be able to tell you the phone number 
of a "promotor" (i.e. tournament-organizer) in your area.  Then call 
your promotor, who will give you all of the details.  The Striker 
foosball tables are starting to make inroads in the foos-world, so you 
can also contact them at Dynamo at (800) 527-6054.  Also, you can find 
many tournament listings in alt.sport.foosball's FAQ 3: "Playing 
Locations."  And of course you can pipe up on alt.sport.foosball to see 
if any other players are in your area.  Finally, if you're suspicious 
about these Tornado or Stryker tables you've heard of, give them a good 
try anyways: go to these tournaments for a few months, then decide what 
you think... I can almost guarantee you will eventually be a "convert"! 
    The other advantage to playing better players is that you learn 
faster... _much_ faster.  You'll learn what a good moving-defense for a 
pull shot or a snake is like; the subtleties are hard to figure out on 
your own!  You'll learn new options from regular shot set-ups that you 
never knew existed.  You'll learn the importance of ball spin, and how 
quickly you will lose if you don't have a brush pass or stick pass 
series.  You may even learn downright useless things such as how to set 
up and shoot the flamboyant Rainbow (aerial shot), or the Alien.  You 
get the idea.
    So, whether you're the current college champ, bar champ, or a 
former addict, go ahead and find those better players... although you 
may lose more games than you're accustomed to, you will probably have a 
new drive to become better at the sport.  And once you attend a Tour 
event, you'll be hopelessly hooked, and the entire sport will benefit 
from the widened base of competition players.

    As a final word, please read Chapter 2 of this file.  It contains 
some general advice which is valid and useful no matter how good you 
are at the sport.  The sequence of choosing one shot, then learning and 
always using the brush-pass are key, as is the advice on strategy; even 
following these instructions will immediately improve your game (i.e. 
stop hacking from 5-rod and pass, and concentrate on one shot).  The 
one thing I would add is to learn a good moving defense, since you
_will_ find that most players have 3-rod shots which can't be reliably 
raced-- even if your moving defense is still letting shots through, 
you'll find that the shots-against percentage has at least decreased 
compared to your stationary race-defense; unfortunately there is not a 
faq (frequently-asked-questions) file on this topic yet, but it should 
be forthcoming.  There are however, faq files on the brush-pass (faq2) 
and the snake (aka rollover) and pull shots (faq6) that are worth 
reading.  Happy foosing!

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