Loose Balls-Basic Level
"Loose balls" are considered when the foosball is rolling, rattling, or bouncing around the table out of control. Another "loose ball" time is during a 5-bar battle between the two 5-bars where the ball is not under the control of anyone in particular and is going back and forth.
We want to talk about loose balls because of the value they play in a game of foosball. If you watch a game between two teams you will notice something about loose balls. You will note only 10% of the balls which are served, are score without a period of free action or without being a loose ball for at least a short period of time. Now think about that, if 9 out of 10 balls become loose balls at the 5-bars or between the 3-bar and the goalie or something, that means you could gain control of 90% of the balls at a minimum. In fact, great players ALL share an ability at picking up loose balls.
As with everything in foosball, there are 3 main things you can do to influence the ball.
Be in the right place at the right time with your men at the right angle, this means THINK AHEAD. Who do you think has a better chance of gaining control of this loose ball and why? Black: His men are angled back and he has the wall covered for if the ball comes off yellow on the wall.
Your hands need to react to the ball, like a baseball glove would close on a fly ball, this means REFLEXES and REACTIONS (Yes, this can be trained!) This is a good rule of thumb.
You need the proper techniques and "habits" to improve the chances of your reflexes helping you, this means KNOWLEDGE and PRACTICE.
Strategy of Loose Ball Control
Trap the ball whenever possible. A ball pinned to the wall is one of the surest ways of KNOWING you have the ball stopped. Either trap demonstrated here is good. You see if you catch a ball in the middle of the field, it might have a spin on it and get away from you.
Side to side motion. If you have a good side to side motion, and we do not mean banging the walls as that is called Jarring and is not legal. You want to crouch down and move your rod side to side without shaking the table. Quick, short motions seem to be the best.
Pin the ball with the toe of your man. Either from the front or the back. This is a nice way to remove any spin on the ball and gain positive control. ADVICE: Do not raise your you man above the height of the ball, it may slip through. Try to be perfect like a surgeon. You should try to hold the ball at the perfect height, then pin the ball firmly, so it does not slip away. This is a skill you need to practice!
Do NOT try to catch the ball with the front or back of your man. Try to BLOCK the ball instead then gain control with a pin or get the ball moving side to side and stop it with the side of your men. If you use the front or back of the man to grab loose balls, you will lose control yourself far more then you gain control.