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*Modified for Home Table Use.

Table of Contents

Basic Air Hockey Rules
Beginning the Air Hockey Game

Air Hockey In Play vs. Out of Play
Air Hockey Scoring

Penalties & Fouls



Air Hockey Rules of Play

1.

Winner is the first player to accumulate the selected point total or has the high score at the end of the selected time limit.

2.

When the air hockey puck enters and drops inside a player's goal, the player's opponent receives one point (unless play had been suspended by a time out or the offensive player had committed a foul during or prior to the shot.)

3.

After each air hockey game, players will alternate table sides.

4.

The player scored upon receives possession of the puck for the next serve.

5.

A player may hand serve the puck only after it has entered his/her goal.

6.

A player may play with only one mallet on the playing surface at one time. Violation results in a foul.

7.

The puck may be struck with any part of the mallet.

8.

The air hockey puck cannot be "topped" by lifting the mallet and placing it on the top of the puck. This cannot be done at any time whether before a serve or after a serve during play. Violation constitutes a foul.

9.

Only one puck may be in play at a given moment.

10.

A player has seven (7) seconds to execute a shot, which crosses the centerline. The seven (7) seconds begins as soon as the puck enters and remains on that player's side of the centerline. Violation of this rule is a foul.

11.

When the puck is in contact with any part of the centerline, either player may strike the puck.

12.

A player may stand anywhere around the table on his/her side of the centerline. He/she may not stand past that line.

13.

Any part of a player's hand, arm, body, or clothes that touches the puck during play is called "palming", which constitutes a foul.

14.

Each player may take one time-out per game. The time-out may be no longer than 10 seconds.

15.

A player may exercise his/her time-out only when the puck is in his/her possession or not in play.

16.

A player must make a clear indication of time-out so that the opponent understands the player's intention.

17.

When a player is scored upon, he/she will have ten seconds to remove the puck from the goal and place it in play. In the event that the puck has scored and it is stuck in the goal, an official time out should be called and the ten-second rule will be suspended until the situation is resolved.

 

Beginning the Game

1.

A coin toss is first used to determine starting sides and puck possession. The player winning the coin toss chooses either which side to begin on or chooses possession of the puck. Whomever has puck possession first will also begin games 3, 5 and 7 with the puck. The opponent will begin the games 2, 4 and 6 with the puck.

 

In Play vs. Out of Play

1.

The legal bounds of play are the table's playing surface, the walls of the rails, the front faces of the goals, the interiors of the goals, and the player's mallets. If the puck touches any other object(s) while it is in play, whether by interference or by foul (unless the foul is nullified) it is considered out of bounds and therefore instantly out of play.

2.

A puck, which grazes the top of the rail, is out of play even if it returns to the table surface.

3.

When the puck is in play, a time-out can be called only if the player calling time-out demonstrates control of the puck. A puck breaking the vertical plane of the goal face can never be considered controlled.

4.

A player may only call an extra time-out because of injury.

5.

If interference occurs during a shot which scores, the point does not count. Interference is defined as foreign objects on the table or playing surface. The puck returns to the player who possessed it prior to the interference.

6.

If the puck leaves the playing surface and contacts anything except a player's mallet, play is suspended until the puck is put back into play.

 

Scoring

1.

If the puck stops in the goal yet has tilted and broken the horizontal plane of the goal then a score has occurred. If a puck stops in the goal and does not tilt, thereby not breaking the horizontal plane, then the player may either hand the puck to the other player or try to work the puck out of the goal using legal play methods.

2.

If the puck rebounds out of the goal mouth, the point does not count. A puck which rebounds out of the goal mouth and strikes the defending player's hand, and rebounds back into the goal does count.

3.

If a puck hits a player's hand on its way into the goal, the point counts as long as the puck would have scored without the contact.

4.

If a score occurs after the table loses power, the point will count only if the puck was struck prior to the table losing power.

5.

If a player takes a shot and drops his/her mallet and the puck enters his/her own goal for a score without it being deflected by the defensive player, the point counts. The player is permitted to stop the puck with hands or body. No point would be scored if the puck enters the opponent's goal due to the distraction. If a player shoots and the defense loses the mallet, the defense may not use hands or body to stop the shot if the shot occurred prior to or simultaneously with the losing of the mallet. The point counts if it scores.

6.

If a player commits a foul and is scored upon in the course of the same play the goal counts and the penalty is nullified.

 

Penalties & Fouls

1.

Foul: The penalty for a foul is forfeiture of the puck.

2.

Technical Foul: The penalty for a technical foul is a free shot taken by the innocent player at the unprotected goal of the guilty player. After a free shot, play immediately begins when the puck either scores, rebounds from the goal, touches the opponent's end of the table (not sides), or comes to a rest on the playing surface. All free shots must be legal.

3.

Unnecessary or excessive delay of game is considered a foul and loss of puck results. Stalling is included in this ruling of delay.

4.

If an offensive player hits a puck and the puck wobbles, hitting the hand of the defensive player, but not changing the perceived speed and direction of the puck, then no foul occurs.

5.

"Goal-Tending": If "palming" occurs while the puck is moving in a direct path towards the goal for a score, "goal-tending" must be called against the player doing the "palming." "Goal-tending" incurs a technical foul.

6.

When a player loses total control of his own mallet while the puck is in play the player commits a foul.

7.

When the puck is struck in an offensive manner, leaves the playing surface, and remains off the table, the player causing such action commits a foul.

8.

Any player violating a centerline rule commits a foul.

9.

If the puck and mallet of the offensive player are both completely on the offensive player's side, the defensive player may not strike either the puck or mallet. Also, the offensive player may not strike the defensive player's mallet in this situation when the defensive player's mallet is completely on his own side. Violation of this rule constitutes a foul.

10.

If in the course of hitting the puck legally, a player's mallet extends partially (but not completely) over the centerline, no foul shall be called if his mallet contacts the opposing player's mallet.

11.

Although an air hockey mallet is allowed to overreach the centerline, the mallet may never completely extend over the centerline -- even when following through on a shot. The mallet may never extend further than its diameter across the centerline. Violation of this rule constitutes a foul.

12.

Any player who, on his/her hand serve, makes a score in his opponent's goal without there having been an offensive shot made on the puck, since the time that the puck was in play, commits the foul of tossed score. In other words, a player cannot just toss the puck into the opponent's goal. The illegal score shall not create a point, and the player who was illegally scored upon shall have the right to hand serve as the penalty imposed upon the fouling player.

13.

If the defensive player strikes the puck in an offensive manner (with forward momentum) and causes the puck to leave the playing surface, this constitutes "charging the puck". The offensive player retains possession of the puck. Conversely, a defensive player who "blocks" by holding steady or by striking the puck sideways or backwards, causing the puck to leave the table, should not be charged with "charging."​​​​​

 

 



Mark Robbins, Gold Standard Games Air Hockey

GUIDE TO BUYING AN AIR HOCKEY TABLE


by Mark Robbins


So you're looking to buy a air hockey table for your home... this guide is designed to help you find the table that best suits your needs, within your chosen price range. The opinions expressed here are based on my 40+ years of playing competitive air hockey, and over 30 years of involvement in the manufacturing and design of high quality air hockey tables.


First... this guide will focus primarily on new tables. If you're looking for a used air hockey table, and have the room, I would suggest searching for a full-size (8 ft.) coin or home table that is sanctioned for play by the USAA (U.S. Air Hockey Association). The USAA standards are stringent and over the past 35 years they have only sanctioned the highest-quality tables that meet the demands of the world's best players. A list of USAA-sanctioned tables can be found in the USAA rules section on either goldstandardairhockey.com or airhockeyworld.com. Sanctioned tables would be from Brunswick (coin model); some Dynamo models (coin and home); and most Gold Standard Games models (coin and home). Sometimes you can find a good quality used air hockey table for sale at a reasonable price.


NEW AIR HOCKEY TABLES
Brand-new tables for home use can be divided into two basic types: small-puck models (using lighter-weight pucks of 2 1/2” diameter or less), and large-puck models (using full-size pucks of 3 1/4” diameter or thereabouts). The small-puck tables will tend to be lower-priced and mostly made in China. The large-puck tables will be higher-priced and usually made in the U.S.


When buying a new air hockey table, you generally get what you pay for. The smaller-puck models have weaker air flow, thus they must use a smaller, lighter-weight puck. The downside is that the puck will tend to fly off the table a whole lot more than the tables that use the large-size puck. The advantage of the small-puck tables is, of course, affordability. Most of these air hockey tables will sell for under $1,000 and some table-top varieties, even under $100. The small-puck tables are usually adequate for children up to 8 or maybe 10 years old. With players 10 years of age or older, the puck will start to fly because of more force behind the shots.


The large-puck air hockey tables are more heavy-duty and are designed for play by adults as well as children. Many of the large-puck tables are commercial-grade, meaning they are identical to the coin-op models with the exception of a free play button replacing the coin mech. Some of these tables are USAA-sanctioned which means that they are eligible for use in State, National, and World Championships. The commercial-grade tables will be heavier and much more durable than the small-puck models, and of course, they are more expensive.


LARGE-PUCK AIR HOCKEY TABLES
So if you want the very best-playing new table, I would recommend a USAA-sanctioned home model. This would include the Tournament Pro, Tournament Pro Elite, and Gold Flare (coming in July) home models from Gold Standard Games; and the Pro-Style from Dynamo. These are the very same kinds of tables used in World Championships. These quality home air hockey tables can be found at many billiard retailers, as well as from online dealers. Depending on model, these 8-ft tables can run anywhere from $2600 up to $4,000 or more.


I have had the good fortune to be the designer of both the original Dynamo tables (back in the 1980's) and, more recently, the Gold Standard air hockey tables. In my personal opinion the Gold Standard tables, endorsed by World Champions, are the best-playing, most durably built air hockey tables on the market. But that is a decision that you, the buyer, must ultimately make. Feel free to go to the website of any company mentioned, view their products, and contact them with any questions.


Another brand of large-puck air hockey tables which play fairly well, and sell at a reasonable price, are the Great American tables. Their tables are not quite up to USAA sanctioning standards but are of commercial quality and built in the USA, as are the Gold Standard and Dynamo tables.


Finally, the Home Pro and Home Pro Elite models from Gold Standard Games are large-puck air hockey tables which are designed for affordability, selling for about half of what the commercial-grade home tables sell for. These tables play well and the puck stays on the table as you would expect from a large-puck table. These air hockey tables are not USAA-sanctioned; they are built with a lighter cabinet, and the blower and rails are not up to full commercial standards as on the sanctioned tables. On the other hand, you can get these 7-ft. Air hockey tables on sale for as low as $1489 for the Home Pro model.


SMALL-PUCK AIR HOCKEY TABLES
Now let's talk about the small-puck tables. Search online for air hockey tables and you will see a plethora of them. While most of these are generic China-built tables, we will try to pick out a few that have developed a decent reputation.


Probably the best of the small-puck tables is the Dynamo Arctic Wind, built in the U.S. The puck stays on the table a bit better than on the other small-puck tables, and the action is decent. On the other hand, it won't compare to the  arcade-like feel of the large-puck air hockey tables we have reviewed. The Arctic Wind sells for more than the other small-puck tables – around $1,150 seems to be a typical online price. Note that the Arctic Wind, unlike most other home tables, has manual scoring, not automatic/electronic.


Another small-puck table manufacturer that has a positive reputation is GLD. They make the Fat Cat and Viper series of air hockey tables, price ranging from $630 to $1,150. As for other small-puck tables by other manufacturers, the best thing to do would be to read some of the online reviews, taking into account both quality and company responsiveness to warranty issues. And realize that with the lower-priced tables, you cannot realistically expect commercial-quality action, puck stability, and durability.


Air hockey is the world's fastest table sport – good luck in your search for a new table!