What is Air Hockey?
Air hockey is a fast-paced and fun sport played by two players (although you could play it in teams of two). The players try to score as many points as they can in the opposing player’s goal. For this game, you will need a specially designed low friction playing surface, player-held strikers (a.k.a goalies, mallets, or paddles), and a puck.
Strikers lay flat against the surface of the tables and are used to block the goal and to strike the puck over to the opponent’s side.
The reason it is called air hockey is that there needs to be some kind of machinery (a fan usually) inside the table. This fan produces air cushions that are dispersed through minute holes near the smooth surface. The air cushions maximally reduce friction and increasing play speed.
It needs to be said that there are also tables that omit these kinds of machinery in favor of normally slick plastic tables. There are also pucks with installed battery fans. But these two solutions are still inferior to the classic air hockey table and are not allowed in the official tournaments.
Simple guidelines and rules for an organized air hockey game
There are many sophisticated air hockey rules, but I will provide you with the most necessary and basic ones you need for playing a fun and fair game of air hockey.
Bear in mind that to play this sport as a professional, you will need to read the official rules presented on the USHTA website.
Rule # 1
There are two coin tosses. A coin toss will determine the starting side. The winner of the coin toss will choose the side he will play on. The match consists of 7 games, so the second coin toss will decide who will start the games 1, 3 and 7; the other player will start games 2, 4, and 6.
Any player that scores the first 7 goals (you get 1 point per goal) is a winner. After the game finishes, the players change sides.
A player can stand anywhere he wants but cannot trespass the centerline.
You can only hold the striker with your fingertips. This allows for more wrist movement. You can strike a puck with any side of the striker. You are not allowed to top the puck with the striker. The striker is used only in the playing surface i.e. if it bounces out during the game it doesn’t count!
The player who conceded a goal will have the puck in the next game. You can touch the puck with your hands only after the player has conceded a goal. In any other time, if you touch the puck with any part of your body, it will be considered a foul. Only one puck is permitted per game.
If the foul is committed, the puck is given to the other player.
A player has 7 seconds to push the puck once it is on his side of the table. If the puck is touching the central line, any one of the players can strike it.
These are just some of the elementary rules one needs to know to play a just game of air hockey that will ensure fun for everyone!