Air hockey

Number of players
2
Recommended age
5+
Competition type
1 vs.1
Playing time
10
-20 min
Difficulty
Normal
Cost or investment
 

Brief description of the game

Air Hockey is a game that simulates an ice hockey game on a table. Two goals, one puck and whoever scores the most goals wins. The key: the hypnotic and fast-paced way in which the puck moves on the table. Who says no to playing an Air Hockey game? It’s engaging and addictive!
Chica jugando a air hockey
Table of contents
air hockey

Let’s start by describing the elements of Air Hockey.

It’s easy because there are only three of them, the ones you see in the next picture: the table, the disk and the… the… what do you think those things are called?

Mesa de air hockey

What Air Hockey is like

Mesa pequeña de air hockey

THE TABLE

Large, medium, small – or almost symbolic, like the one in the photograph – have small holes in their surface through which air escapes with a certain pressure. This air makes the disc move over the table as if it were levitating, simulating the almost frictionless movement of a disc on an ice surface.

Disco de air hockey

THE PUCK

There’s nothing special about it – it’s a piece of hard, tough plastic – if it weren’t for its hypnotic, frantic way of moving across the table when hit hard with a…. with a… are you clear on what they’re called yet?

Mazos de air hockey

THE MALLETS

Yes, you can stop calling them “stickers”, “hitters”, “rackets”, “throwers” or whatever you called them: they are officially called mallets.

They are usually made of very strong plastic and are designed to protect the player’s hand.

Basic rules for playing Air Hockey

Let’s see now how to play Air Hockey.

The rules we propose are a selection of the official rules of Air Hockey, which we consider necessary and sufficient to play with friends and family.

If you are curious, or want to compete like the pros, you will find below information on the official Air Hockey rules in force in international competitions.

But we insist, to play with friends or family with the rules that we propose below is more than enough.

Players and teams

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PLAYERS

From 2 to 4 players, from 5 years old. The youngest kids supervised by an adult and with an Air Hockey suitable for their size.

TEAMS

The most common is to compete 1 vs 1. If there are 3 players, the most experienced player will compete against the other two.
And if you are 4 players, then logically you will compete two vs. two, creating two balanced teams.

In our explanation we will assume a 1 vs 1 match.

Duration of an Air Hockey match

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7 GOALS

Matches do not have a fixed time duration. The game is played until one player scores 7 goals to become the winner of the match.

Match development

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WHO'S FIRST?

It is decided by flipping a coin

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STARTING THE GAME

The team that has won the flip of the coin starts the game from its home field.

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PLAYER POSITIONS

It is not mandatory for the player to be behind his goal. The player can be placed anywhere on the table that is on his side of the field.

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VALID GOAL

For a goal to be scored, the puck must enter the goal and fall into the hole or at least be tilted towards the hole. The player receiving the goal shall put the puck in play.

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PUCK IN THE CENTER

When the puck is touching the center line of the field any player may hit it.

Arbirto pitando falta

FOUL LOSS OF POSSESSION

If a player commits a foul, play is stopped and the puck goes to the other player. What actions are fouls? We see them below:

Actions implying FOUL

7 SECONDS: once the puck enters one’s own field, one has 7 seconds to make a hit that takes the puck to the opponent’s field. The time starts counting when the puck enters the field. If it is not complied with… foul.

PUCK OUT: if the puck goes off the table as a result of a player’s hit, the player will be penalized with a foul, even if it bounced off the defender’s mallet, provided that the defender has moved his mallet backwards or sideways in a defensive action. If s/he has moved it forward then s/he will be at fault for the puck going out and the foul will be his/her own.

LEAVE THE MALLET: the gavel may not be left unhanded, much less thrown. Foul for whoever does it.

TOPPING THE DISC: it is not possible to place the mallet on the disc. Foul for whoever does it.

TOUCHING THE PUCK WITH ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE MALLET: while the puck is on the table and in play, it can only be touched with the mallet. If it is touched with the hand or any other part of the body, including clothing, a foul has been committed. If it has also been done to stop a shot on goal then it will be worse, this unsportsmanlike action is considered a Technical Foul, a concept that we will develop below.

But first one more very important thing about fouls: if a player commits a foul and concedes a goal in the course of the same play, the goal counts and the penalty is nullified.

Arbirto pitando falta

TECHNICAL FOUL. PENALTY.

If a player stops a shot on goal in any way other than with his mallet the game is stopped and the infractor is penalized with a free kick, a penalty.

The penalty taker hits the puck from his field without the infractor being able to defend the shot, i.e., into an undefended goal.

If there is no goal, the puck is immediately considered in play.

And that’s all! With these basic rules, the Air Hockey game is well organized and orderly.

Of course you can make changes to the rules, but whatever you decide, all players must be in agreement and well informed before the game starts so that there is no trouble later! It’s all about having fun no matter how competitive you are!

Jugando a Air Hockey en sala de juegos

Official Air Hockey Rules

There is no international Air Hockey federation that establishes rules for official competitions at world level as is the case, for example, with table soccer.

But there are several worldwide associations such as the United States Air Hockey Association (USAA), which has organized the 2022 World Air Hockey Championship. Este enlace te dará acceso a un PDF con las reglas oficiales del Air Hockey.

Tips for playing Air Hockey

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BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR HAND!

Many players leave their non-playing hand resting on the edge of the table. It’s not that you can’t or that it’s a bad idea to do it, but watch your fingers! Don’t let them stay inside the table!

LEARN TO PLAY LIKE A PRO

We encourage you to read, learn and put into practice the tricks explained below because even if you have no expectations of winning the next Air Hockey World Championship, you will certainly like to beat again and again anyone who dares to challenge you 😉

7 tips to play Air Hockey like a pro

1 - About the way to hold the mallet

Most people hold the mallet like this:

Air Hockey, cómo agarrar el mazo. Mal.

But a professional does it this way:

Como agarrar bien mazo air hockey

As you can see they leave out the thumb and little finger and use only the three middle fingers of the hand. Why? Because in this way the wrist has more mobility, which allows for much faster strokes.

2 - About body posture

To have more stability and reach farther without unbalancing you should have one leg in front of the other. Bring forward the leg on the side of the arm you are playing with. If you play with your right hand, bring your right leg forward. If you are left-handed, bring your left leg forward.

Regarding the hand that does not hold the mallet, most professionals rest it on the table to improve its stability, but with the fingers out of the court!

3 - About the way to hit the disc

Hit the disc with a quick flick of the wrist. It is not necessary to move the whole hand, let alone the whole arm. What’s in it for you? Several things: the movement is much faster and requires less effort, we also give less clues to the opponent regarding the direction in which the puck is going to come out after our shot and it even allows us to execute very fast movements to make the opponent believe that the shot is going in one direction and at the end correct the movement and throw it towards another to catch him off guard, as if it were a soccer dribble.

4 - About puck control

Most amateur players just stick the puck as soon as they have it within reach, but professionals usually take possession of the puck and then decide what kind of move to make depending on how the opponent is defending.

To control the disc they cushion the blow against their mallet with a small backward movement just when the disc reaches the mallet.

You can do the same. Try it! As long as you can control the puck, the probability that your next play will result in a goal is higher.

5 - About the surprise effect

After controlling the puck you can just hit it, but professional players don’t usually do that. What do they do? They move the puck in their own half of the field one or more times before taking their shot on goal.

Sometimes it is a simple overtaking of the puck just before hitting it, like a small auto-pass.

Alternatively, they may bounce the disc repeatedly against the sides of their field before executing the shot.

The objective in both cases is to mislead the opponent and surprise him with a shot he is not expecting.

6 - About shots on goal

Most beginners always shoot aiming directly at the goal. But the pros score many of their goals after bouncing the puck off one of the sides of the opposing side of the field.

A professional always evaluates the three options: direct shot, rebound on the right side or rebound on the left side and decides the best option according to the position in which the opponent is defending. You can do it too!

7 - About the best way to defend

When it is time to defend the opponent’s shot, most amateurs put the mallet in the center of their goal, right in front of it. But the professionals, with many hours of playing time and many games behind them, know that this is not the most optimal position.

The best position to defend all three types of shots is further forward. You must align the mallet with the center of the goal but bring it forward about a couple of feet.

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In this video you will see how two professional players put into practice the tips we have given you before. This is a clip from the 2019 World Championship final. Enjoy! It is an amazing show.

How to build a homemade Air Hockey

Creating a functional and sturdy homemade Air Hockey is not a quick or easy DIY job. We are sorry if we disappoint anyone with this “reality check”, but we don’t like to create false expectations.

You just have to think about the time it takes to create all the holes through which the air has to come out. Do you know how many holes need to be drilled for a small table of 60 cm x 40 cm? If the distance between one hole and another is 1 cm, a total of 2,301 holes must be drilled. And if the table is large, 200 cm x 90 cm and we space the holes 1.5 cm, we are talking about 8,000 holes!

Despite this, there are brave people who have dared to take the plunge. On YouTube we have found dozens of videos with proposals of all kinds and we offer you here what we consider to be the best.

Creating a homemade Air Hockey with cardboard

This version of homemade cardboard Air Hockey is the best we’ve found on YouTube. It is affordable and creates an end product that works well and is very well finished.

Creating a homemade Air Hockey with wood

We prefer Japanese Yohei Fukuma’s proposal for four reasons:

  1. Use recycled materials.
  2. Provides measurements and step-by-step instructions.
  3. It gets the whole family involved in the construction, and we love that.
  4. It offers a realistic approach to building a large Air Hockey with DIY tools we all have at home.

If you don’t intend to invest in an Air Hockey skip the Buying Guide below! But don’t miss the last section “Fun and/or surprising things” that we hope will bring a smile to your face.

Air Hockey table buying guide and tips​

For those who don’t have the time, energy or skill to build their own Air Hockey, there are two options: go to an arcade and pay for its use or buy one to play at home.

If you are considering buying an Air Hockey table for your own use or as a gift, read on because we are going to give you some very good advice.

Let’s start by explaining the types of Air Hockey tables available in the market.

Types of Air Hockey tables

1 - Tabletop portable Air Hockey

They are the most common in homes and are characterized by being small and portable, ideal for placing on a table or countertop. They are suitable for all ages because they are available in all sizes.

2 - Fixed floor Air Hockey tables

They are larger and heavier than tabletop units, and are usually placed on the floor in a permanent location. They tend to have a more robust construction and are ideal for playing in a living room or game room.

3 - Foldable Air Hockey tables

Halfway between the tabletop and the fixed ones, we have the foldable Air Hockey tables. They are usually small or medium in size and incorporate wheels for easy transport from the play area to the storage area.

4 - Professional Air Hockey table

Used by high level players and in competitions. They have advanced technical features and are logically more expensive.

5 - Multigames with Air Hockey

For those who want to make better use of space and have more games for the same price, logically at the cost of size or quality of materials because a large and quality multigame can be as expensive as a professional Air Hockey.

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We have selected for you the best products within each category taking into account their performance, ratings, reviews, sales and delivery conditions.

Our selection of Air Hockey table

Selecting a good product takes time and effort. It is necessary to be informed, to search, to analyze, to compare, to read reviews…

Well, we have already done it for you.

As LOODENS is currently participating in Amazon’s affiliate program, we are going to offer you a selection of the best of their best products chosen taking into account their performance, ratings, reviews, sales and delivery conditions.

We don’t sell anything. We provide you with a link to the product we have selected in the Amazon store and then you do what you want. If you buy from Amazon we are rewarded with a small commission. And that helps us to maintain this website!

We do not recommend...

First of all, we advise against buying a field hockey table that is not an Air Hockey table, i.e. without air. Why? Because the gaming experience has nothing to do with it. No matter how polished the table surface is, it will never be the same as a disk levitating in the air.

We also discourage the purchase of battery-operated tables. It is not the best. Neither for the gaming experience nor for the environment. It is much better to opt for an electric, plug-in table. This ensures that we will always have the same air flow and will generate less waste and CO2 emissions over its lifetime.

From here you have dozens of models on the market.

 

 

The key variables for choosing one model or another are:

 

 

  • the size of the table (taking into account the space available for playing and for storage in case the playing space and the storage space are not the same)
  • the quality of materials

And logically, both variables are related to the final price of the product. But you already know that.

Our recommendation for a tabletop Air Hockey

Small but not too small, suitable for both kids and adults. Perfect to place on a table or countertop.

Our recommendation for a fixed floor Air Hockey table

It’s not professional Air Hockey, but it’s close. Perfect for kids, suitable also for adults.

Our recommendation for a foldable Air Hockey table

It folds up and can be stored vertically. Perfect size for a bedroom or game room.

Our recommendation for a multigame with Air Hockey

A large, high quality multigame, suitable for children and adults, with all accessories included.

There are cheaper multigames and with more games but… it is not the same. This product is designed for an excellent gaming experience and to last over time.

Our recommendation for a professional Air Hockey table

For pros. For those who want the best. There is nothing more to add.

Fun and/or surprising things

DanCreator is an artist who creates cardboard replicas of everything from a car to a beverage vending machine. And of course, also an Air Hockey.

An Air Hockey match between a human and a robot? A fascinating proposal that you can experience firsthand in many science museums.

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LOODENS rating

 
What can we say? We love to play Air Hockey. We know that not everyone has the opportunity to have one at home, but we are convinced that all those who have invested that money have not regretted it. How many hours of fun they will have shared with their friends and family! Which, in the end, is what it’s all about.

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