What is air hockey?
It is a fun and popular game that requires a special table, to be played. Depending on the player’s skill level and age, the required type of table changes, as kids won’t be able to play at a too-large table, while adults are uncomfortable playing at small tables. Similar to ice hockey, the game consists of two up to four players, which try to score points from the adversary, by shooting the puck into the goal. Instead of using hockey sticks, they use a special mallet.
What do I need to play it?
The most important element, is the air hockey table itself, as, without one, there will be no field on which you can play the game. Depending on your skill level, as well as your budget and preferences, you can consult an air hockey table buyer’s guide and pick the model that best suits your style. Most tables already come with a scoreboard, but if yours doesn’t have one, you’ll have to keep the score manually. Next, you’ll need a pair of mallets, and at least a puck. Once you have them, you’ll be able to enjoy your game.
What are the rules of the game?
Simple and quite straightforward, all you have to do in order to win the round is score 7 points. There are 7 rounds in total, and the best out of all of them wins the game. However, you’ll have to keep in mind the following basic rules:
- To decide which side starts first, you have to flip a coin.
- In order to be counted as a full point, the puck must be completely inside the goal. If it stops midway, it won’t count.
- Once a goal is made, the other player serves the puck.
- You shouldn’t pass the center of the table when you strike the puck.
- You can freely move around your side of the table, but never pass the center into your adversary’s space.
- Mallets should, at all times, be kept on the table. They can’t be lifted to keep or obstruct the puck from moving.
- Aside from the mallet, you can’t touch the puck with any other body part.
- Per round, each player can have a time-out of 10 seconds.
- The time-out is given only when the puck is not in play, or when the player that calls the time-out has it.
- The serving changes once the rounds finish.
How does a professional table work?
The secret behind smooth gameplay is the airflow along the table’s surface. Arcade and professional-level tables have a high cubic flow per minute (or CFM) of around 350 or even 400. This ensures the puck has an even sliding rate, and won’t remain stuck in the middle of the board. Also, in order to ensure the CFM rating stays constant, powerful motors are employed to produce the quantity of air needed.
How much does it cost?
It is highly dependent on what type of table you plan on acquiring. According to your skill level, there are up to 4 different types you can look into. The small-sized one, as well as the mixed type, is great for kids or amateurs, as the tabletops are small, compact and lightweight, and can be taken anywhere you go. They are usually the cheapest options, starting from around $20. The medium and arcade types are for more advanced players, as they come with more and more features, like lights, the ability to play music, digital scorekeeping, as well as motorized airflow. The more features a table has, the more expensive it is. Thus, some can go as high as $5000-6000. So, depending on what you’re looking for, as well as your budget, there are plenty of choices to select from.
What’s the table and puck size?
They range from 2-3 feet (the smallest) up to 7-8 feet in length, according to the type of table. An official one measures 99 ½” in length, 51 ¼” in width and 31” in height. The official pucks should have a diameter of 3.5” and a height of ¼”. Moreover, they also have a strict color code, as they should be either yellow, florescent green, or red – in order to be easily seen on the table, and they should be made from plastic.
Should the mallets be heavy?
While there are no rules set in stone for mallets, they shouldn’t weight more than 6 oz. However, the heavier the mallet, the more force is put in each and every strike.