Good Practice Guidance for Venues and Operators

If you’re a landlord or an operator of tables in a pub or club, this page may be of interest. We’ve put together some information on how to get the most from your foosball table, and how to promote the game.

The BFA was formed in 1998 as the UK table-football players federation, and is recognized by the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) as the governing body for table football in the UK. Our aim is to develop the game at grass-roots level, increase the popularity of the game of foosball, providing fun and sociable events with competitive play and developing links between player-bases at a local and regional level. We are a non-profit organisation independent of table manufacturers and operators.

This guide includes:
– How to get the most from your table, including set-up and basic maintenance advice and promotional suggestions.
– How to set up a BFA Registered club – if you have keen players and are looking to take things one stage further.

Getting the Most from your Foosball Table

The Basics

Ensure the table is properly set-up! A table which is appropriately sited, level and well-maintained will attract more players than if stuck away in a corner.
Ensure the table is level (if it doesn’t have leg-levellers taping beer-mats to the feet usually does the trick)
The defence rod should have 2x players, the midfield 5x players and the attack 3x players, some tables (e.g. USA made) may have 3x players on the goalie-rod, if so these would be spaced slightly further apart than on the attacking rod.
Ensure the coin mechanism works and does not jam.

Ensure the table is well-maintained. A well-maintained table is more likely to be respected by your customers, as well as providing a more rewarding player experience.

Cleaning

– For Open-Top tables – a daily clean of the playing surface using a damp cloth, or with non-greasy non-scour cleaner, if needed to remove any spilled drink residues etc. Drink spillages on the playing surface should be cleaned up immediately.
– For glass-topped tables a daily clean of the glass top (this can be polished) and weekly clean of the playfield should suffice.
– Never attempt to polish the playing surface! This can damage the table and drastically reduce ball control.

Lubrication

Weekly lubrication of the rods (using pure silicone oil (e.g. from Wickes – by far the cheapest option) or specialist silicone foos-spray. WD40 can be used for tables with springs but not those with rubbers.
For tables with telescopic rods it is vital to keep the inner rod well-lubricated – do this before cleaning the playfield to mop-up any greasy spots on the surface before they can spread.

Faults

Check the condition of bumpers, springs etc (if springs are used they should be short enough to allow the ball to be trapped against the side-wall).
Check the rods are straight and run and rotate smoothly. Slight bends can be brought back into shape via tension at the point of the bend, but clumsy attempts at straightening can make the problem worse. If it is not possible to straighten a rod so it runs smoothly, then replace the rod as soon as possible.
Where player figures are fastened (rather than moulded) to the rod, ensure that nuts and bolts are tight, and any pins are intact (replace pin if the player gives a dull sound when tapping a ball or if the player moves on the rod when pinning a ball under pressure)

What should you know?

You should learn how to remove and replace a glass top for competition, how to replace a rod, pin, rubber or player-figure, and become familiar with how the coin mechanism works – it may be worth having a spare mechanism available if you are unable to un-jam the original yourself.
If your table is owned by an operator they should give you a key to the cabinet as this is usually separate to the cash-box, and if you are able to fix minor faults yourself they save call-out costs and you save table down-time.

Lighting

Ensure the table is well-lit – Good lighting is important and unless the ambience in the pub is bright the table should have its own dedicated lighting – e.g. a spot directed at the centre of the table or a small pool-table type canopy. Alternative lighting solutions (e.g. in night clubs) have included fluorescent player-figures and balls with ultraviolet lighting.

Location

Players need room to play when the defensive rods are fully-extended. Open top tables should be in a supervised location (visible from the bar or on CCTV) to avoid things like goal-stuffing to keep the balls in play without having to pay (much more common than ball theft). If your table has a glass top then it can be located in an unsupervised zone, however if supervised consider removing the glass top as it makes the table more player-friendly, particularly during any club sessions.

Pricing

If you have only passing casual trade or high-income clientele £1 per game is viable, but if you have ‘regulars’ you will normally make more if it is set on 50p, as you would get more games played if the table is seen as good value. Obviously ensure your bar float includes enough of the appropriate coinage to cope with the extra demand! Ensure at least 9x balls are dispensed per play, but note that in tables with standard ball trays providing too many balls can cause the mechanism to jam.

Health & Safety

Most tournament-quality tables have through-rods. If the venue is open to small children under 4ft/120cm tall there is a small risk of facial/neck injury which can be reduced by having a table with telescopic rods. The risk would be similar to, but lower than, that posed by e.g. pool cues where the movement is not as predictable. Once children have grown so rods are below neck-height (above around 6-7 years old) through rods would not pose any significant risk.

Promoting the game

– Learn how to play yourself so casual players turning up on spec can find an opponent.
– Regular Nights & Competitions – Designate one night per week as a regular foos night, these nights can include various formats, competitions and promotions. Let people know about these via the regional BFA forum and obviously your own website, Facebook page etc as well as posters near the table. Developing a regular scene with regular players can more than double the takings of a table.
– Winner stays on – an incentive to get good, but if busy it is worth limiting teams to 3 or maybe 5 wins in a row. If there is more than one table then designating one as winner stays on and the other(s) for more general use. Will create stronger players via natural selection, but can be off-putting for new players who may have to wait an hour for their next game…
– Ladders – Players challenge opponents above them in the ladder and go above them if they win or the opponent refuses to play within a reasonable time. This effectively produces a local ranking list.
– Mini leagues – all players or teams play each other with the winning team on points getting the weekly/monthly prize. Downside with this format is that it needs everyone to be around for the whole of the competition or until they have completed all their matches.
– Longer term leagues – All players in the league play each other over a number of weeks or months for a local championship. Can have divisions with promotion/relegation to encourage players to compete against others of a similar standard, and may be easier to manage.
– Knock-Out Competitions – Singles or doubles, the BFA website has downloadable charts (excel or pdf) for double-elimination and group-stage formats available in our ‘supporting tournaments’ section. If competitions are held regularly keep records of results and award points for placings to develop a local ranking list.
– DYP (draw your partner) competitions maybe once a month with cash prizes or drinks tokens for the winners. A random draw of doubles partners means the same pair won’t win every time.
– Beat the Experts – Get top players in to show how it is done – A ‘beat the expert’ competition once a year offering £100 to any player or doubles team to beat the expert or expert team (very rarely happens), and with a £20 cash prize to the best loser or losing team.
– Women – Foosball is not just for the lads, women can and do play to a high standard, but if there are several women players it may be worth holding separate events for women only. The same applies to Juniors under 18 years or Seniors over 50 years.
– Satellite TV – Highlights from ITSF World Championships Series tournaments (equivalent to Tennis Grand Slams) are broadcast on Eurosport 2 at intervals throughout the year, with live coverage of the World Championships in early January. It is worth checking the schedules regularly and screening in the venue when the footy isn’t on Sky – it could inspire the next stars of the game! It is virtually certain to get a few more coins in the slot afterwards!

Forming a BFA Club

If you have 4 or more regular players, register as a BFA Club – this will attract further players and give entry to team competitions and other benefits. See the club pages for more details.
To form a club you need only 4x regular players, a football table and a contact person.
There is no charge for forming a club.

Club membership provides benefits including:
– Allows players from your venue to enter a team or teams in BFA club competitions and leagues
– Representation for the club at a national and regional level (voting rights at general meetings)
– Provisional BFA membership including International Player Licence for your registered players
– Notification of upcoming events (via e-mail)
– A section or page on the BFA website for your club (from registration info provided). We hope to make this page user-editable in due course.

Social Media & Publicity

Let people know your club exists and what is going on – set up a facebook page or group, twitter feed as well as posting regularly in your regional section of Britfoos discussion forum (set up a dedicated thread for your club). If the venue has a website or facebook page ensure activities are shown there. Put up posters in the venue or stickers on the table (with permission!) letting them know about the club and regular nights etc.

Club Activities

Regular Nights – Recommended to have a regular playing session at least once a month and preferably the same night each week, where play is encouraged.
Internal Competition – have at least one session in four as a competitive night running one or more of the competitions highlighted in the promotional section.
League Competitions – The BFA League Championship season runs from November to July, playing against other clubs in your region or locality home and away, with the top teams progressing to the National Finals.
Team-Building – Design a logo for your club and make club shirts or team kits for competition. Kits can be attractive to local sponsors.
National and International events – Travel as a club to national or international tournaments, particularly those with club events. Ranking tournaments are the best environment for players to learn new skills and tactics.