In this article, we will be reviewing the tabletop air hockey rules. Air hockey is a fun tabletop game that miniaturized the concept of Ice Hockey. It is usually a 1v1 game, but if the table is big enough, you can have 2v2.
The game is made possible by the tabletop, which is essentially a modified table with two goals, a smooth surface, and usually a hidden blower fan that blows some air up through lots of tiny holes within the surface play area to allow the puck to glide across the surface easily.
The players themselves use paddles or mallets to defend their goals by blockrefing the puck from scoring on their own. Likewise, each player is trying to score on the opponent (the other player) by hitting the puck into their opponent’s goal. The game is fun and challenging because of the difficulty of predicting exactly how the puck will behave when it hits and ricochets at certain angles.
The players themselves use paddles or mallets to defend their goals by blocking the puck from scoring on their own. Likewise, each player is trying to score on the opponent (the other player) by hitting the puck into their opponent’s goal.
The game is fun and challenging because of the difficulty of predicting exactly how the puck will behave when it hits and ricochets at certain angles.
The full set of USAA official rules is almost as long as a short book. Fortunately, unless you are a tournament director or a professional competitor, you won’t need the full set. On that note, we will be providing the pertinent rules regarding tournament play and what typically revolves around a referee.
Also, feel free to alter some of the rules to make things more fun for when you are just playing with friends and family. The list will be broken up into sections for each part of the game.
Tabletop Air Hockey Rules
Conditions for Possession, Shooting, Scoring, and Winning:
- To win, a player must be the first to score 7 points
- To score, a player must get the puck into the opponent’s goal – with either the puck breaking the horizontal plane of the surface, or fully falling into the retrieval slot of the goal it went into
- After a goal is scored, possession is granted to the player that was scored on. Now, the player ‘hand serves’ the puck with their hand to place it in front of their mallet to resume play
- The first condition where a goal will not count is if there was interference of some kind, or if it hits a player’s hand on the way in- in a way that the puck would not have made it into the goal otherwise
- The second condition where a goal will not count is if the puck hits the back of the goal mouth and is ricocheted back out. However, if it comes back out and ricochets off the defending player’s hand back into their own goal; the goal counts
- The third condition where a goal will not count is if a player shoots the puck at their opponent’s goal and they drop their mallet, and in turn, the defending player is distracted by the event
- Legal shooting involves the player who has possession. When that player has possession, they have seven seconds to get the puck across the center line into their opponent’s side; otherwise a foul is made
- Legal possession and shooting require that the player is in their proper position, on their side of the table anywhere behind the centerline opposite of their opponent who is also supposed to be in their proper position
- Legal use of possession requires the player with the puck in possession to touch the puck only with their mallet; hands are not allowed
- After a goal is scored legally, the defending player is granted possession and they have ten seconds to get the puck back into play
Conditions for fouls and ‘out of play’:
- When a player makes a normal foul, the opposing player is then granted possession of the puck, unless the player who committed the foul is scored upon within the same play of which the foul was committed. In that case, the goal counts for the player who did not commit the foul and the penalty for the foul is then negated, thus granting possession back to the player who had committed the foul and was also scored upon – only if the game has not ended
- If a defending player performs goaltending, which is the use of stopping the puck from going into the goal with their actual hands instead of the mallet, then they have committed a technical foul. Technical fouls grant the non-guilty player a free shot. This means whoever did not commit the foulcan shoot the puck at their opponent’s goal, while the player who committed the foul is not allowed to defend their goal during the free shot. However, once the shot has been taken, normal playing is resumed regardless of the shot having successfully scored or not
- During a non-goaltending event, contact between the puck and a hand or arm or sleeve is considered as a normal foul
- Topping the puck with a mallet, whereas the mallet is on top of the puck, is considered to be a normal foul
- Mallets are never allowed to cross the centerline even during & after a shot fully. They are also allowed to come in contact with each other only when that contact takes place at the centerline. A normal foul is a result of violating this rule
- Each player is allowed to hit the puck that is across the centerline on the side farther from them – so long as their mallet does not fully cross the centerline as previously mentioned
- If during play, a player causes the puck to leave the normal surface play area without it going into a goal (i.e. the puck gets knocked off the table) they are considered to have made a normal foul.If they were offensively striking the puck regardless of them being considered as the defending or offensive player
- If a player loses complete control of their mallet during play, they are considered to have committed a normal foul
- Excessive delaying of play by a player is considered to be a normal
- If during play, the puck hits a foreign object instead of mallets or the walls of the tabletop, the puck is then considered out of play
Conditions for Time-Outs:
- For a time-out to take place, the player who is calling the time-out must have possession of the puck, if the puck is in play
- The player that is calling the time-out must make a clear sign that they are declaring a time-out
- Only one time-out is allowed for each player
- Time-outs are supposed to be ten seconds long or less
- A ‘goal’ scored during a time-out does not count
We have just listed the rules concerning tabletop air hockey. While it may seem arduous to learn all these rules, you can relax if you are not playing in the competitive arena (i.e. serious tournaments). Knowing more from this list should allow you to fully consider what parameters of play will work best for you and your family and friends.