Learning how to play air hockey can take time. Air hockey rules are easy to grasp after practicing, and it is important to learn the rules if you are interested in becoming a serious player or even just play with friends.
Table of Contents
- What is Air Hockey?
- Air Hockey Rules
- How to Play Air Hockey – Tips and Tricks
- Air Hockey Techniques
What is Air Hockey
Air hockey is a popular game where players try to hit a plastic air hockey puck into the opponent’s goal.
The playing surface (or air hockey table) includes a table with hundreds of tiny air holes that produce a cushion of air to reduce friction and allow the puck to glide freely along the table. An air hockey table also includes a surrounding rail to prevent the puck from escaping as well as a slit at the end of each table that serves as each player’s goal. Generally, each side will also have a puck return area on the side of the table.
Each player uses a plastic, round shaped air hockey striker or paddle. Each striker includes a handle to control the paddle as well as a flat surface that will lie on the table, and surrounding “high-tops” to protect the players hands as well as hit the air hockey puck.
The air hockey puck is normally plastic, flat, thin, red and light. These pucks are generally circular, but are sometimes found in other shapes.
Air Hockey Rules
During gameplay a player can stand anywhere they would like around the table. The puck can only be hit once it crosses the center dotted line. It is illegal to reach over the dotted line to hit the puck, although if the puck is sitting on the line then either player can reach to hit it. Also, once the puck crosses the line into your zone, you have seven seconds to return the puck to the other end.
Hitting the Puck
There are several rules that guide how a player can and can’t hit the air hockey puck. First, you can not hold the puck under your striker and drag it or sling it. If the puck happens to fly into the air or off the table, the player does have the ability to hit the puck out of the air and back onto the table with their striker.
In order to score a point, the player must hit the puck into the other player’s goal. For the goal to count, gameplay must have started and the puck must fully enter the goal and cannot bounce out. After a player has been scored upon, they will retrieve the puck from the puck return and subsequently start the next possession.
Most Air hockey tables will have an electric score keeper that automatically adjusts the score as each player makes a point. If the table does not include an electronic scorer, then a piece of paper will be adequate.
Winning the Game
There are many different ways to play air hockey. If you have limited time, then you can simply play to 11 points. If there is adequate time then you can play to 21 points or even require the player to win by two points.
How to Play Air Hockey - Tips and Tricks
Most people think that the best way to score is to hit the puck straight across the hockey table into the other player’s goal. This may work sometimes, but the best way to score is to find a spot along the table wall that will deflect the puck into the goal. The best way to find this location is to practice before hand, and try hitting the same spot over and over again. Once this spot has been located on each side of the table, the player can vary the speed, side, and velocity with which they hit the location to confuse their opponent.
Another great tip is to watch your for your opponent’s tendencies when playing. A lot of players will unknowingly hold their striker to one side of the table or will constantly hit to the same side. For example, if you notice that your opponent is constantly hitting the puck to your left, then you should immediately return the puck to the opposite side while their striker is still on the right side.
Air Hockey Techniques
Air Hockey is intense and requires quick reflexes. There are 5 important areas to focus your time if you want to become a better player: How to hold the striker, Offense, Defense, Maintaining Possession and reaction time.
Power is also one of the most important aspects in air hockey. The harder you strike the puck, the harder it is for your opponent to react in time to stop it.