Building a Human-sized Foosball Table

Imagine a foosball table come to life, with human-sized players “attached” to crossbars – able to move only side to side and face only in one direction – with the sole mission of putting a ball in the opposing team’s goal – while feet kick wildly in all directions and everyone argues over perceived rule infractions.

Welcome to The Network Support Company’s annual employee appreciation picnic, where winning the team-building activity is not only encouraged, it’s unapologetically pursued with fervor usually reserved for a cage fight. But it’s all done in good fun, and everyone has a great time. In fact, regardless of which team emerges victorious – and claims the annual Winner’s Cup – we leave slapping each other on the backs, laughing, and having learned new things about each other. For instance, who knew that one of our account managers would sacrifice her shins, repeatedly, just to win possession of the ball? The picnic, and especially our foosball tournament, was just another fun way to build the great “culture of family” that we have at TNSC. Our motto is “work hard, have fun” and our managers walk the talk when it comes to making it happen.

This year, a few weeks before the picnic, we were discussing ideas for this year’s competition and someone mentioned they saw a human foosball set on YouTube. I knew that this HAD to be done, so I was giving the task of constructing it, along with a $500 budget. After carefully reviewing various guidelines and online how-to guides, I drew up plans, modified for the budget (which meant no paint!).

As a public service, here’s how to create a life-sized foosball table.

Materials used:

  • Twelve 4×8 sheets of particleboard
  • Thirty 8-foot 2x4s
  • A box of 1 ½ sheet rock screws
  • Eight straight metal braces
  • Sixteen rafter braces
  • Eight lengths of 4” drainage pipe 8’ long
  • Lots of elbow grease

The structure was designed to be 32’x16’; this meant four sheets of particleboard down each side, two sheets cut to 5’ on each goal end, and a 6’ goal between them.

The first step is to create the twelve supports for each intersection of particleboard to hold the structure together. Each support is made of one 2×4, cut into a right angle triangle and attached to the intersection of two pieces of particleboard on the seam, one on each corner and one at the end of the 5’ pieces near the goal.

Second, join the 2x4s end to end with the straight metal and rafter braces to make a 16’ length; the drainage pipe slides over top, giving 3’ of play on each end. These will act as the poles the players will hold onto and slide back and forth like an arcade foosball set.

Next step is to erect the particleboard sides and attach a support to each seam, after that create the supports for the cross pieces; this consists of cutting 2”x4” pieces of 2×4 and attaching them equidistant along each side of the structure with the sheet rock screws, level with the top, two vertically and one horizontal below the vertical pieces to make a trough for the 2×4 to sit in – so it can’t move back and forth and has support from the bottom. The cross pieces are set into these troughs and screwed to the sides from the back. Finally, a soccer goal was placed in the opening at each end.

Players were instructed to hold onto the pipe and not let go, rather than slide the pipe back and forth in unison like a foosball set. Penalties were called for taking hands off the pipe or moving without sliding the pipe. We also assessed penalty minutes to players who kicked the ball out of the playing field; things really got fun when a team was a player or two down!

Give this a try; your coworkers will thank you!

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