Seven Basic Rules That Apply To All Air Hockey Tables

 By: MJ Marks
This past Christmas break my oldest daughter was home from college. A welcome event since she is a freshman and it was her first time away from home for an extended period of time. We enjoyed having her home and spending quality time together, but one of the most enjoyable evenings was New Years Eve at the traditional family party. Down in the basement of the home we were at were a variety of game tables, including a couple of air hockey tables. There my daughter challenged me to a game.

When I was a child, my brother had a table, but I hadn't played for years, but I felt up to the challenge because I didn't think that my daughter had played at all. I easily scored and took an early lead, but it didn't last long. We played to ten and I lost after an active, half hour game.

Many more games followed with various competitors. But by the end of the evening, it was a unanimous consensus that air hockey tables were the best of all game tables available. So, I started researching different air hockey tables, and along with it the rules (especially since we were unsure of them, even what score to play to for a win).

Now, air hockey isn't very difficult, smack the puck into the opponents goal. But, there are some basic rules of which I was not aware. Here are some of these rules that hopefully can make game play more enjoyable on all air hockey tables.

  • To eliminate any further contention or discussion, game play in competitive hockey is to seven. This is a great score for home play also. Enough to be fun, but not so high to make a game too long. Also good if there is someone waiting on the sidelines to play the winner.

  • You may strike the puck with any part of the mallet, but you may not "top" the puck. This means that you cannot place your mallet on top of the puck. This I did not know. When playing as a child, we would often "top" the puck to stop it or to get it under control. However, if the puck is airborne, you can use the mallet to bring the puck under control.

  • Though I don't know why you would want to because it leaves your goal exposed, you can stand anywhere on your side of the air hockey table, just don't cross the center line.

  • Once the puck crosses the center line to your side of the air hockey table, you have seven seconds to hit it back to your opponent.

  • When scored upon, you have ten seconds to retrieve the puck and serve it back to your opponent.

  • Each player may call one time out during a game, but only when the puck is on their side of the table. The time out lasts 10 seconds.

  • A player's hand, arm or clothes are not allowed to touch the puck, or it is a foul. But if the puck rises off the table and touches hand or clothing, there is no foul. On most fouls, the puck is given to the opponent to serve.


Well, now that you know the basic rules, you can get much enjoyment from air hockey. Air hockey tables are a great way to bring friends and family together for hours of fun and well spent quality time.
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