As great as it would be to become a professional soccer/football player, all the stars have to align to even get a chance to play at the top level.
That means starting early in life, having the right connections, winning the genetic lottery, being ultra-disciplined, and a pool of luck to tap into.
However, don't lose hope as that is not the case for all sports. Some, like foosball, are significantly easier to rise to the top.
So if you consistently destroy your buddies in table football or just run a casual tournament out of your man cave, the world of competitive foosball could be your next obsession.
Related: Foosball Tables For The Game Room
Despite the fact that you won't be on a 7-figure salary and be featured on ESPN's weekly highlights, there are plenty of reasons to compete.
The International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) lists a multitude of tournaments across the world every month. And those are only the pro & master tours. There are hundreds of lower ranking tournaments and weekly/monthly events happening at the same time.
Why not play in one on your next holiday and have your potential winnings pay for your accommodation?
It seems that the older we get, the less we compete (and no, keeping up with the Joneses doesn't count).
A healthy dose of competition activates the reward center of your brain (dopamine) and provides the stimulation needed practical learning.
You will also see a lot of the same faces at each event since the sport is relatively small. Prepare to make rivalries!
Again, prizes won't be enough to be your main source of income but they can definitely be a great supplemental income for doing something you enjoy.
Prize pools range from a couple of hundred dollars (local events) to a couple of thousand dollars (professional tournaments), all the way up to $70,000 like in United Arab Emirates' Foosball Championship that was sponsored by their government.
Aside from money, brands often sponsor events and provide additional prizes including foosball tables, hand grips, lifetime supplies of balls, and more.
Free beer is also a foolproof incentive for getting players to enroll.
What does it take?
Although you don't require freak genetics and an inhuman level of drive, there are three areas which are crucial to making it in the world of competitive foosball.
1. The right equipment
Get yourself a regulation-size table for your man cave. Those are tables used in official tournaments that measure 56 inches long, 30 inches wide, and 36 inches tall. Rods are separated by a 6-inch gap and the goals are a little over 8 inches wide.
Balls are part preference and part where you are in the world. Textured balls with a distinct rough outer layer are often used in American tournaments whereas traditional cork balls are favored in European tournaments.
We recommended buying both types and getting used to their differences. Whatever you do, avoid the cheap, plastic ones.
Once you begin to improve, you will want to step up your game by getting custom rod handle wraps, silicone maintenance kits, and high-performance rods.
2. A lot of practice
The odd weekend game won't cut it if you want to win a competitive match against even an intermediate player.
Practicing your swing, trialing new strategies, mastering the save - there's a lot to learn and it requires you to put in a lot of time.
A great drill for improving your passing skills is to start with the ball on the outer man of your forward rod. Pass to the third man (of the same rod), then to the second, then to the forth, the third, the fifth, then back to the start. Reset if you mess up.
Also, find a training partner who is slightly above your skill level. Getting pushed without being decimated is one of the quickest ways to improve.
3. Disposable income
With the majority of tournaments having an entry fee (ranging from $10 to a couple of hundred dollars), you need a bit of spare cash in the bank. This is especially true at the start when the chances of winning that money back are slim.
The good news is that, as you improve, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes often leave you better than when you arrived.
Participating in the major events require traveling to different states (or even different countries). Without a sponsor to pay for your plane tickets and accommodation, it falls on you, and that will stack up quickly.